Salsa > Musicality

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by borikensalsero, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    True indeed even if there isn't such a thing as a right question, as you've stated, it is knowledge that leads to question. Some of us don't need a teacher readily present we've already had them...

    Without knowledge or the hunger that uses knowledge to search, then no question can ever be asked. It’s like asking the blind to explain color after being taught about color, then getting upset that they are off in the wrong path to explanation.

    Salsa teachers right now explain color to the blind as what they see, yet the blind don’t understand, then they get mad that the blind didn’t take what was given to them to find a path to color!

    As a teacher one is to give the blind person something he can relate to and expand his own search to see color. We can’t teach him what we see. We need to teach the blind to live what he will see. How would we do that? We’ve already failed by explaining what our seeing eyes see. If we are wise and know how to use his world and thinking to see color, then we’ll explain cotton for white, fire for red, blue as peace… It is the ability to use current knowledge to become more, that a teacher is to give to his students. Nothing more… Those might very well be God-like attributes. Anyone less than that, should still be a student, this includes some of the top “instructors” in salsa.

    Teach a student to how to build, even find the search, and more so find them-selves… We are all in search in one way or another, at this time salsa but we haven’t found it because our teachers themselves are lost in an ocean of technique, which leads them to teach the wrong tools for the path we haven’t even discovered as present...

    The role of a teacher is not to limit, but to aid in the search, to expand it. To help see the things one can not question without prior knowledge, to give one the boost one needs to get over speed bumps. The opening of doors that the net, books, nor friends could have yielded. Could have Plato being Plato without Socrates? There aren't many Socrates; some of us indeed need to be Plato...

    It will never be the search in a person that I question, rather when a teacher is present yet is unable to aid a person to freely think, and instead teaches more limits. To take the responsibility of being a teacher of another person, yet filled them with empty searches, dead ends, should be a sin. We would not know of Plato if it wasn't for Socrates. While we would still know of Socrates from the thinking he caused in his peers.

    Don’t not see my words as a fight against a person’s needs to search, that is a given, rather, why an instructor fails to prepare a student with the necessary means to open up new doorways to aid a students search. And why after a student has been to salsa class he doesn’t know of Salsa, yet we blamed for not dancing, or knowing about it. Worse, blame a person whose search has been away from salsa, for not dancing Salsa nor knowing of Salsa.

    You are lucky Africana that you have the ability to see a path and follow it. However, remember that trigger (Plato) isn’t source (Socrates).

    Even while I use a self approach as my instructor, which I believe your point to be, I do not deny that many of us need a Socrates to point us in the right direction, rather than a buffoon to point us to Egypt when we are in search of Cuba. Then, I fight the so called teachers.
  2. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    God, you'd think that after all that rambling I've done today. I wouldn't forget anything...

    In addition:
    Knowledge without the ability of mind to apply it is pretty much "use-less". (unapplied knowlege is the same as not having any)
  3. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    boriken, i think in quantum(i do"nt spell in quantum :) ) so some of your points(and dear africanas) are well said(some) i wont try to repeat what was said ,its really the same thing i was saying but you said it in a different way( i study myself-socrates etc...... and much more :wink: ,breaking out of linear is a simplistic way of saying what u said in depth,at any rate i've seen way to many robotic salsa dancers,and a good example of this was a cuban band was playing and the dancers who for the most part never heard this style music(its usually new york or pr style) danced the same way they always do and really even some of the (best looked sooooooooo silly)never feeling or really listening to the music. new style is cool of course and pr style sure of course but thats not the point-which i know you understand,i see your socratic style to bring discussion and points to where they will lead 8) cool 8)
  4. africana

    africana New Member

    wow that is a beautiful comparison :notworth: :notworth:

    So the question is: how do you propose to equip salsa teachers to equip their students, to reveal the types of insight you're talking about? It seems almost impossible to apply universally. Even the so-called trained teachers don't understand half the importance of drawing inpiration from music, and I'm not even touching any religious aspects (cos I believe the social aspect of dance can remain separate from these other links based on individual choice)

    And at the expense of further recursion who inspired Socrates? :p
  5. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Thank you so much! :kissme:

    Ever watch a Karate movie, or a buddhist/Taosist based movie? There is always one guy who thinks they are the best because they've mastered all technique, to which the "maestro" always says, You are almost there, but you aren't ready. That or the master woops his butt all over the floor with one hand. The students leaves infuriated that he isn't allowed to start his own school, or be taught the greater ways of "being". The student actually knows them, but he is too busy not paying attention and searching in a different place...

    A person isn't ready because they think they are. Readiness is a state of mind that needs to become applied action. Not until that happens the student is allowed to become a "master", nor led into a self journey. Usually the master knows, way before the student, when he is ready to fly on his own. The master is simply waiting for the student to be hush and start listening to the hidden words, to think on his own.

    That is the problem with salsa instructors and why it can't be universally applied. Teachers are still in the beginning stages of a student. We as a whole deal with the physical and forget that behind every physical display there is a philosophy that causes it, and that is never questioned... We have an absolute number of people who, because they can move around the floor, think they are ready to teach. Those folks aren't philosophically ready to takes such leap, for they, themselves are still at a learning stage. They've yet to surpass technique. I've yet to come across an elite dancer who talks the talk and walks the walk. All I've seen is the talk with no applied action, as if karate was throwing good punches.

    No recursion, perhaps I didn't explain my postion all that well...

    I haven't taken away the fact that some folks take the simple and turn it into complex. I'll never doubt that. I, however, will question that todays teachings of artistic expression is leading anywhere for the masses. We are stuck in monkey see monkey does, and for that we need a little bump that should be represented by the so called "instructors". :D

    Socrates was one of the few that could see further than his eye sight allowed. Humanity has seen very few like him. You can dump Jesus, Confusious, Muhammad, Buddha, Eisntein, Galileo, Lao Tzu Tao and the rest of "seers" you can think of. Those are the people who we know all of us are just like us, but unlike us, they were able to do more with the same means of thinking. Those folks only needed basic info to turn it into vast info. That is where I like to see folks head their dancing, and for that, we as Plato, need to have someone teach us how to find the Socrates within... the ability to freely feel and think...
  6. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Isn't that wild? Once we begin to feel the music, even if we don't feel it. Listening to it extremely careful, we begin to notice how a US Mambo Based style doesn't fit all that well with a certain style of music. It's cool that people want to shake their bodies and have fun, but from an observational point of view, the music and the dance collide like two 18 wheelers head on.

    BTW.. thanks for the comments on my socratic, I’d like to think of it more like eratic, style. :D
  7. africana

    africana New Member

    And who exactly decides when the student is ready to become a teacher? Does the teacher tell the student "you can't teach yet because...blah blah blah"? Will the student listen?
    Eastern philosophy is a contrary system to the way thing work in the salsa world.

    IMO most salsa teachers are hustlers, in a positive sense :p meaning they got into it because there was a demand so they could make $$ at it. Most times it's the students who want to learn some aspect of dance who "elect" a teacher, by paying him/her
    The salsa system is firmly rooted in capitalism (good or bad)

    So I answered my own question: The flow of Mammon determines who is ready to be teacher, therefore this idealisitic method of "becoming" ready will never apply in such a $$-driven culture (good or bad depending on perspective)
  8. alemana

    alemana New Member

    ding ding ding
  9. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Can I add a couple of more dings, dings to this one???

    Sadly now a days the material heads the world... we can choose to follow or create our own path... the choice is ours, but not realy. hehe
  10. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    [thread revival]

    Just wanted to post to this thread since last night I had a rather distressing (I'm so dramatic) moment... I was sitting back, taking a break, having a beer, and watching all the dancers dance. The live band was playing an original (or at least it sounded like it), not a cover, but the music was fairly standard salsa--pretty predictible breaks. Beautiful stuff. I could tell when the breaks were coming, mentally hitting about 80% or so of them. The problem was, only about 2 or 3 couples of the 40 or so on the floor actually stopped when the music stopped!! It was like I was in one of those movies where a person has the ability to see the future, and they see a crime take place, and it's horrifying, and they try to stop it, only they can't... I knew the break(s) were coming, and I wanted everyone to just kill it when it hit, but alas, no such thing happened. It was as if everyone had huge NASA-grade noise cancellation headphones on, and they were just dancing to the music in their head. I actually lowered my head a bit (not in a "you idiots, listen to the music!" way, but in a "woe is us, we can do so much better" way). Among those who committed these acts were other instructors, those who are considered "good," and newcomers alike. And since I don't want to double-post this experience to the "Importance of Timing" thread, I'll mention this-- I'd estimate about 40% or 50% were actually dancing on time...!! (note I'm saying on time, not even on a particular beat--dancing on the 5? fine, but for the love of all that is holy, stay ON THE 5!--even this wasn't happening...)

    It's not like me to be distressed seriously at this kind of thing for 24 hours, but it's happened. Any words of comfort? I'll say this--as much as I have talked about musicality and timing to my students before, I will intensify my efforts even more. I'm doing an out-of-town workshop in July, and I will make musicality and timing a priority. It really hurts to watch 'off-music' and off-time dancers lately... it hurts my soul. Does anyone else feel my pain? Please help.
  11. Big10

    Big10 Member

    Does it make you feel better for me to say, "You are not alone"? Sometimes I just stand back to watch the dancers, and I've noticed (and felt) the same thing you've described, both here in my city and in other major cities where I've traveled. For the average nightclub, the percentage of people with "consistent" timing all the way through a song (at least returning to the 1 or 2 or 3 or wherever you started) is definitely less than 50%. I have likewise observed that a decent proportion of the violators are instructors, members of dance troupes, and/or people with status as being "good" dancers.:? And, of course, timing is an essential aspect of musicality.

    I'm not an instructor myself, but when people ask me for recommendations, I limit my recommendations to instructors who have good timing and a good grasp of musicality. However, as long as people continue to be impressed by the flashiest dips and spins, instructors with that style will always continue to get students, regardless of whatever deficiencies they might have in timing/musicality.
  12. devane

    devane New Member

    I sometimes watch the crowd seeing who is on the 1 or 4 (sometimes people dance 4 beats out of sync). A lot of the time I can't see anyone dancing on the same beat. It's like 20 couples all on their own rhythm.
    We have a live Cuban band on Wednesdays. It use to be impossible to dance before because there was no percussion. Some of the songs without percussion felt like jazz. Last week we had a guy who played Timbales & La Clave. At last I could dance to their songs. Later I was saying "wow, the band is totally differrent, now we have La Clave there is a clear rhythm, we can dance right now". All I got was blank faces and " a what?,a cla what?" except for one dance teacher who later spoke to me about the lack of musicality among students.
    Even if a teacher taught a class it's still up to the student to train their musical ear.

    Dance moves alone are not enough to dance. That noise in the background is called music and you have to blend with it.
    Damn, I can't fit that on a T-shirt.
  13. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    It's hard to learn how to perceive something... That's essentially the problem we're facing with teaching musicality. I've been thinking about pushing "listening" as being the KEY to dancing well... listening to the music and to the partner, whether you are lead or follow. But listening to the music is so-much percent anticipation too... very tricky to explain to the "deaf"...

  14. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Yeah, you got it. It's like trying to help someone who's going through a tough situation when you've never been through anything like it before... you just can't quite put yourself in their shoes, because you never had that difficulty. Same with me and timing--through all my deficiencies, timing is one thing I've never had a problem with at all. Sure it can be discerned by finding the clave, or cowbell, or bass, or piano, or other percussion, or whatever--but it just doesn't quite flow as well that way when you try to explain it to students. One nice moment came Friday night though, when a long time student (maybe 2 or 3 years) who's never been in my class until recently who was having problems hearing the beat in a Ray Barretto song finally got it when he and I went through it and I told him specific instruments to listen for during certain parts... during those parts of the song after that he was right on beat, hit the breaks perfectly, and I was so proud of him. But then again, this guy is very dedicated, very committed, and eager to learn, so that helped tremendously. It gave me hope that those who have timing problems can get it even after years of not getting it.

    I think I agree with your 'listening is the key' idea... I've been thinking along those lines as well. It may not be the ONLY key on the keyring, but it certainly opens a big lock. I have to remember though, that for beginners focusing on their partner and the music at the same time is difficult, when they are still at the point of thinking about their feet.
  15. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I honestly think that a big part of my progression in these key areas of dancing are a direct result of the time I spend on DF. Seriously. I mean, few others I know besides all of you and some notable big-name instructors really talk about things as simple as listening to the music. So, thank you all DFers. You're an oasis of clarity in a desert of chaos. :wink:
  16. devane

    devane New Member

    That song wasn't "acid" was it?
    The best song in my book for practicing new move. The musical phrases are clear and it has a clave too.

    Even Edie the Salsa Freak said it is the most difficult thing to teach.
  17. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    Hmm yeah. Listening is only "the key" when you're already doing a whole bunch of other stuff ... I think it's "the key" to this mythical jump from being an expert technical patternmonkey or shinemonkey to actually dancing...

    I've never not had rhythm, too (um, I think... ) so I find it incredibly hard to answer "how do you KNOW that is the 1?". I went to a timing class that really fascinated me: the way to separate the 1 and the 5, we were told, was to listen to the montuno. The montuno , though cyclic and playing on all the beats, "starts" on the 1... The reason I find this fascinating is that that explanation actually worked for some people... but if I was asked to explain how you can tell where the montuno starts without refering to the beat, well, I'm stuck!

    I think the secret to learning to listen is in the frame of mind. You have to anticipate, guess, and search. Bet yourself that something will happen given the evidence you've spotted so far, and see whether you were right. If you were, well done you! If not, well done the musicians!

    The person who wants to know "the rule" for determining the beat is not asking a reasonable question and is trying to fit listening into a box that's too small for it!
  18. africana

    africana New Member

    yeah been there, done that. I suppose if this stuff was easy we wouldn't be talking about it ;)
  19. africana

    africana New Member

    Mike Bello does some very in depth seminar where he explains the instruments and songs like this but much of the material went over my head, so many details, it's easier for me to use my "instincts" as well. But I'd buy his material if I needed it, very thorough stuff
  20. azzey

    azzey Member

    Perhaps you're approaching it from the wrong angle.. "explaining" music is like trying to see chocolate. However get them to taste it and open up their senses, then maybe they'll want to try more.

    One way I've used before that works well is playing the "salsa air guitar" while sitting next to someone who wants to learn. Everybody finds it easy to tap along to a rhythm that someone else is tapping...

    The way this works is at some dramatic piece in the music I drum the air with my hands and hit an imaginery cymbal, or play along a music piano (montuno) until the sequence repeats (after the 8th beat) and my hand slides back to the first note, then pause when there's a silence before the next musical phrase.. bum ba tah bah pa ta

    What's needed is for the student to recognise individual musical rhythms they're hearing, synchronise with them, interpret them, reflect them back then improvise and eventually predict what's coming up. All this can be accomplished using an air guitar and is much easier to do than dancing to the music!

    That's the next step..

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