How To Find The Counts Of Any Dance Song Like A Pro

Training Tips

How To Find The Counts Of Any Dance Song Like A Pro

Charise Roberts
January 23, 2024
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If you're trying to learn how to dance, you'll quickly find out that being able to count music is pretty key to picking up choreography.

After all, if you don't know what the instructor means when they say hit the move "on the 2" or jump on the "and"... you'll get pretty lost!

It’s about time we talked about how to count like the pros, so follow along this video to learn how to count music and stay forever on beat.


Counting music for dance is not just
counting one two three four five six seven eight.

It's a much more complex and nuanced skill
that even really experienced dancers have a hard time with.

But don't worry in this video we're gonna help you break down different sounds and layers in music

so you can finally start choreographing to that super intricate soundcloud remix of a remix of a remix

Let's start with the

Clay pick one arm motion.
Keep it really simple.

We're gonna keep doing this to the beat of the song

Hit it.
You hear that steady sound?

Tap with us.

Okay now let's put numbers to those beats.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ,7, 8.

So the song goes from just having these steady "bomb, bomb, bomb" sounds

and it introduces a new one that kind of sounds like fingers snapping

and we're gonna say Ka to notate that.
And that happens on every 2, 4, 6, 8.

so this time when we count it instead of saying those even numbers

we're gonna replace it with Ka.

Hit it.

1, ka, 3, ka, 5, ka, 7, ka.
1, ka, 3, ka, 5, ka, 7, ka.

Alright that was step one to counting music like a dancer. Great job!

Alright now let's look at another song.

Clay, did you hear that loud
noise that happens on the 1 and the 5?

Yeah it's that bass. It goes "boom"!

I want you to do something for me.

I want you to hit the
whoa every time you hear it on the 1 and the 5

Jessie I don't really want to hit the woah...
I think the woah is silly... I just don't...

Counts sort of map out a song for you
so when I'm dancing counts help me recognize patterns

so that I can predict what sounds
are coming up in the song

another interesting lesson to note here
is that this isn't the only way to count the song.

Let's try counting it twice as fast. Ready?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

The woah happens on the 1 now, not the 1 and the 5.

5, 6, 7, 8, woah, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

This is why sometimes when I ask people
"how many eight counts is your piece?"

they say "four or eight depending on how you count it"

alright, now let's break it down even more.

These are half counts.
They divide each of the whole counts in half

this is represented by the word "and".
So I would say 1, and, 2, and, 3, and 4, and

so on and so forth.
And these are called quarter counts

because, you guessed it, they divide the
whole counts into fourths.

this is represented by "e" and "a".

1 e and  a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4.
We say this because quarter counts happen so quickly

so the words e and a just sort of roll off the tongue

we're gonna use these whole, half, and quarter counts in our next challenge really quick

so it's gonna go 5, 6, 7, and, 8 e and.

what I'm gonna do is count 1, 2, 3, 4
and then you guys are going to count with us

when we do 5, 6, 7, and, 8 e and.  

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and, 8 e and.

Try it with the music.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and, 8 e and.

Not so bad right?
Okay the next one is a mega challenge

we're gonna be breaking down a
song called Hipster Girl by Sango

but instead of counting by whole counts
or quarter counts

we're actually gonna break it down
layer by layer in the music

so let's just start by hearing it out and finding where the beat is

You hear that?

Sounds kinda like an open hi-hat.
It goes on every whole count

Next sound! The hi -hats.

They sound like this...

and it's a lot more delicate of a sound
so let's just use our fingers to go...

you're gonna hear three really quick high hats
at the end of the eight count

where the counts are 8 e and.
Okay let's hear it out.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, not this one
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...

It skips this eight count and then starts
at the next one again

3, 4, 5, 6, 7...

Now the fun starts.
The Basses.

Now I'm not gonna lie this one took me a minute to figure out

I basically had to... bass-ically!

basically had to draw out the whole 8-count
and listen to the song

and sort of visualize when the basses were firing

so what I'm gonna do
is have Clay count out that 8-count

and I'm gonna be the bass that's showing
you guys where it's happening. Ready?

5 6 7 8, 1 & 4 & a 6

1 & 4 & a 6

now let's do it with the music

1 & 4 & a 6
1 & 4 & a 6

1 & 4 & a 6

When you're dancing, you're not just dancing to the whole counts or just the triple hi-hat

Cause that would be boring and repetitive.
You want to mix it up.

Yeah, choose or combine different layers
so that you can really showcase your musicality

I mean this isn't something that most people get right away.

you guys saw me when I was struggling to figure out these counts

adding lyrics gets a little bit tricky because singers don't necessarily follow strict counts

but I like to visualize the melody sort of weaving in and out of the other sounds

so what I like to do is use the basses and other sounds in the music to mark where the lyrics are starting

For example in this part of the

it sounds like he says the word "take" on the 1 or that boom boom -  the 1 and.

let's hear it out

you know it actually took me a really
long time to develop the ability to actually count

but my advice to you guys
is to listen to a lot of different types of music

and actively try to break down
the counts

so use these brain exercises when you're choreographing or teaching or learning or freestyling

but if you want to put your moves where your mouth is then sign up for STEEZY Studio

and take our new rhythm and musicality classes

My class is a very easy follow along
that helps you stay on rhythm

by teaching you five different count patterns that isolate different layers in the song

my class is a little bit more musicality based where we're following a more interesting patterned song

but using a little simple storyline with fun moves to really accentuate the special beats of it

you can take both of these classes on

and if you're a dancer that has your own tips and tricks for counting music then please leave a comment below

and share it with the community so we
can all help each other out

and don't forget to hit that subscribe button so you don't miss out on any of the videos

that we come out with every single week.

Five six seven eight who do we appreciate? You!

For subscribing and leaving a comment.
You're so beautiful

and I love you.
Oh a lot of people say "I love Clay" in the comments.

Leave a comment if you love Clay!