Do you have trouble with your salsa timing? Do you need help to find that elusive salsa beat? Good news! We can help you find the beat! Read on…
The first step to improve your salsa timing is to understand the salsa beat. It is made up of 8 beats. If you can count to 8, you can count the beats – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
approx. 76 bpm
For this lesson, we will work on the "On1" salsa timing. They call it "On1" timing because you start your first step on the 1st beat. You will step on beats 1, 2, 3, and 5, 6, 7. For this reason, don’t count beats 4 and 8 out loud. They are still there, so remember to count them in your head. If you must, count beats 4 and 8 silently. Review the basic steps here if you forgot them.
How fast do you count a beat? Good question! At rest, your heart beats around 60 times per minute. While sitting down and relaxed, count your heart beats starting from 1 and going to 8, when you get to 8 start all over again. Example: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If you have a regular heart beat, all the beats are evenly spaced. Simple, right?
Salsa music is typically 140 beats per minute to 210 beats per minute. So, for an average person, if you count 3 to 4 times faster than your resting heart rate, you will be counting as fast as a salsa beat. In other words, you should be able to count from 1 to 8, in the same time it took you to count from 1 to 4 when you counted at 60 beats per minute (bpm). Try this online metronome and set it to 144 bpm for a slow salsa tempo and 208 bpm for a fast salsa tempo.
If you listen closely to the music, you will hear the musicians accent their notes on 1st and 5th beats. You can especially hear it if you listen to the clave on a 3-2 son clave beat or other rhythm instrument like the base guitar. Once you find the 1st beat and count to the 8th beat, you will know you are right because you will hear a "musical phrase" of rhythms repeated.
You have probably heard of salsa timing CD’s, but they don’t really illustrate to you what’s going on. They are a good start, but you should compliment it with something that teaches you interactively with visual aids and music. One tool we recommend that has all these features is Salsa Timing Gone Wild!
It will teach you how to count On1 to just about any salsa music! It comes with preloaded songs, but you can also download free salsa music from the internet to test your new found salsa timing skills.
First, you select a song from the song selection list. If you are totally confused with how to find the beat, don’t worry! There’s an option you can click so you can actually hear a computer generated voice count to the music! 1.2.3.. 5.6.7..
You can also visually see the men’s or lady’s basic steps to the beats of the music. This is especially important and helpful because you can step along to the music and count the beats with the voice of the computer.
Once you’ve mastered counting to the beat and you think you have the salsa timing, turn of the "hear the count" option and put yourself to the test! While listening to the music, you can click the "First Beat" button when you think you’ve found the first beat to the music. You’ll see an accuracy counter, in the right hand corner that will gauge your skills.
Once you’ve mastered your timing, you should consistently have an accuracy rate of 99.0% or greater. Give yourself more of a challenge by speeding up or slowing down the music!
You can choose an instrument and play along with the music! The catch is, you have to play your instrument on the 1st or 5th beat. You’ve got several instruments to pick from — cow bells, clave, bongo, conga and more! You’ll receive praises from the computer if your on beat, but if you are off timing, you’ll be sure to know!
Overall, we think that this is a fun interactive program, but more importantly, it teaches you how to find the beat and how to do it accurately. Timing is one of the most important things you must learn to become a better dancer. YOU can become a better dancer by using this program and your partner with thank you!
It works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.