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Why Can't I Count a 4?

Did you know that we all have a music meter rhythm that resonates with our very souls? There is a musical rhythm that you feel in your body and connects with your mind and, as a ballet/dance teacher, makes you feel at ease and comfortable to use when you teach. Considering we all have hearts that beat at a consistent tempo, you’d think that we would all gravitate to the duple (2/4, 4/4) time signature; however, strangely that is not the case! In truth, each person will feel a connection with either duple or triple meter. Duple meter can be felt by feeling your pulse, especially if you’re me and you run the stairs quickly! Triple meter, on the other hand, can be felt by feeling your breathing. In 2, 3, out, 2, 3, etc.

I’ve always looked forward to playing for ballet teachers I’ve never played for before because it’s an adventure! Watching their exercises, listening to their corrections (often totally new ideas that I’ve not heard before) and hearing their music choices. It is remarkable how I can tell what music meter is that teacher’s instinctive natural favourite (For example, 3/4 warm up, 6/8 plies, 3/4 slow tendus, 3/4 adage, 6/8 Port de bra, etc). Often, they don’t even realize that they have this inclination towards one meter or the other. If its a teacher that I end up working with a lot, I’ll often challenge them to try working on the meter that is less comfortable and give them some tips to feeling and counting it better. It is absolutely a joy to work with ballet teachers that are open to learning and interesting music discussions, so, koodos to you if you’re like that!

I challenge you to take some time and look at your most recent ballet class plan and find out what your instinctive meter is. Is it all things 3? Great! Is it all things 2? Great! My challenge to you is to try to change up your meters throughout your class so that if you had a pianist playing for you, they’d have no idea which one you prefer! Doing this will improve your counting/marking ability for your students, AND, perhaps more importantly, help develop more capable and musical dancers in your studio!

Here’s to you, being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone!

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