Last Updated on 2022-11-16 | Originally Posted on 2020-03-01
I was tempted to call this post Hear the Beat, not Feel That Beat. See the pullout quote below if you’re unfamiliar with the lyrics of the title song of the musical 42nd Street. However, there’s a big difference between hearing and feeling. When you hear good musicians, you can feel that beat because they do, too.
Have you ever faced a situation where music notation fails to convey the essence of the music? I routinely find this when dotted rhythms and syncopations enter the curriculum I use to teach piano students. Of course, preparatory activity like tapping, clapping, and singing the tune can be especially helpful. After all, any pre-school kid can sing London Bridge Is Falling Down. If I can convince an eight- or nine-year-old to sing, the teaching becomes much easier. Syncopations, especially those that cross the bar line, are another matter!
YouTube to the rescue! I always remind my students that the music came first and that the notation is just a necessary shorthand. Here is a short list of videos of innovative music that requires more complicated notation and time signatures.
La Bamba – Sing and clap where the words are just “La La Bamba”
America – Tap foot on the beat and clap off beat
Take Five – Feel and clap the innovative five beats per measure