Fitting Your Play Vocabulary to Music

West Coast Swing Online Musicality & Timing

So far, you’ve discovered your play vocabulary and cleaned up your movements so they look good. Now that you can execute your movements consistently, it’s time to fit them to music.

The Drill: For each movement that you’ve developed, do the movement without music. Ask yourself what the movement does. Does it feel like the accent is on the beginning or end of movement? Is it a sharp or sustained accent? Quiet or loud? Fast or slow? Maybe there are different ways to dance the movement to give it different flavors. That’s awesome—go ahead and figure out as many options as you want.

Once you have a sense of what kind of musical accents would fit your movement, put on a song with those sounds. Freestyle dance to that song, putting in that movement as often as appropriate. Your goal is to build the habit of executing your movement when you hear the right kind of sound.

The final step is to put your movements into your WCS. Put on the same song you used earlier and dance basic patterns by yourself. Whenever you have the opportunity to execute the movement within the pattern and it fits the song, do so.

During this step, you will probably find awkward moments in which you can’t complete your pattern on time. When that happens, make a note of what pattern and count you got lost. When you finish the song, turn off your music player and try that pattern with your accent again. You may need to adjust part of your movement in order to stay within the pattern, or you may realize that the movement simply doesn’t fit within that part of that pattern.

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