"Can you teach anybody to hear the beat in Salsa music? I have never been able to do this. It drives me crazy - it's the only music that I can't 'hear'."
Being the obnoxious, confident guy I am, I thought, "Sure, if you'll do the work, anybody can hear it." I’m confident because I've been successful with enough terminally time-challenged individuals via private lessons, so it seems like a safe bet that this e-mailer will simply be another one in the crowd. To date, I haven’t found anybody who couldn’t hear it IF they will invest some time; maybe someday I'll find the exception to the rule, but so far, so good.
It all started with my constant improvement mindset, and I was looking for interesting dance blogs and articles, hoping I'll find the cure for cancer and some detail or perspective that will enhance my dancing. I tripped over a site named "Great Dance", run by Doug Fox. After reading a few articles, I checked out his personal blog named "Dancing into the Future" and decided I should contact him.
I sent him mail complimenting him because I like his content. (And I recommend you check them out via the links above.) When I find quality blogs or sites, I let the authors know someone appreciates their work (sometimes you wonder if anybody is reading your stuff).
Being a good blogger himself he checked out my blog and told me it was the finest blog he has ever seen in his life (ah...no. But he did like some of my articles.) He returned my e-mail, and after a few back-and-forth messages, he asked me the question that started this article.
We had a couple more e-mails and he asked if I could teach timing remotely, without meeting in person. That is something I've never done, but because he's in New York and I'm in LA, we agreed the commute was a little too long for face-to-face sessions. Success in person is something I almost take for granted, but teaching music to someone over the net with e-mails, phone calls, WebEx and/or other Internet technologies presents a new challenge.
Doug was originally a little skeptical when he first approached me, but I think after our initial phone conversation, he's moving toward "cautious optimism." I'm not sure he totally believes we can make salsa accessible, but he no longer thinks he's terminal and doomed to life without a salsa groove.
My first assignment for him was to download the Susie Hansen song titled “La Salsa Nunca Se Acaba (The Salsa Never Ends)” and listen to the introduction twenty or more times. See “My Favorite Tunes: Part 1 of 367” for more details on that tune.
Doug and I agreed to blog about the process --each from our own perspective-- documenting our successes and/or frustrations as we work though the process remotely. My goal is to show someone how to hear the time, understand the song structure and be able to be comfortable finding “One” in the music without ever meeting in person.
We’ll keep you informed along the way and when we are finished, I hope to refine my teaching so it can be repeated easily with others and shared with you. I suspect you’ll find it an interesting journey. Doug has promised me he'll download this week, and I'll let you know how we progress.
I used to have a dog. And he was a good dog.
But these days, he'd be called a 'Canine American.'
-A. Whitney Brown