Can rhythm be taught, or is it hereditary/cultural/learned behavior

@sharone74 (4839)
United States
December 5, 2009 2:03pm CST
A lot of people maintain that all black people know how to dance. They seem to think that rhythm is a genetic marker for negros and afro (american,indian,european, etc.) I have always thought that rhythm could be taught with a firm solid 8 count, a metronome if the count didn't work, and after that I will be down to using the method from "Mr. Holland's Opus" where he taught the black kid, who was a drummer in his program rhythm by putting a football helmet on his head and tapping the beat on the helmet with drumsticks. I have never met anyone who is rhythmically challenged or bump handicapped, or who couldn't at the least do a simple two step, that is UNTIL NOW. I have been trying to help a friend of mine learn to dance and while she has come a long way, and can immulate some of my tricks and moves, the failing in her moving to the next level with her dancing, is that the poor child (46 years old) has no rhythm. Counld not carry a tempo if I put it in a lock box and handed it to her. Get this all of her daughters whom I have met, save one, is hopelessly rhythmless also. So my question to you all is. Can one learn rhythm at all? Is it ingrained in certain ethnic groups from birth? Is it hereditary? If your parents were good dancers, or could at least snap their fingers to the beat of a song, does that guarantee that you'll be able to dance or something. Is dancing and rhythm a cultural creation? Kind of like a serious game of monkey see monkey knows best, or is it that some parents are just more hip and they play records and would have parties and invite all of your friends? If so that would make rhythm and dancing ability a learned behavior. I know that all of these factors contribute to the overall presence and skills of an individual but I am just wondering whether after 8 months of trying to teach her rhythm I can just give up and accept that she is hard of hearing rhythm or rhythmically challenged. Waht do y'all think?
2 people like this
4 responses
• United States
5 Dec 09
I believe that rhythm can be taught. It could be possible that genetics can play a part in whether a person can maintain rhythm or not, but for the most part, I believe that anyone can be taught how to maintain a beat. With the woman that you met and her daughters, it is possible that the children (and the woman herself) have not been as exposed to as many melody's or sounds that have a rhythm to it and so they are not as likely to recognize a pattern. Though I may be wrong, rhythm as I understand it, can be both taught and hereditary. Our parents pass down many traits to us, so it is very likely that because the mother never learned to maintain a rhythm, that the daughters were passed down this trait. However, I believe that even with a hereditary trait of not being able to maintain a beat, it is still possible to learn it. Of course, it might be a bit more challenging but in the end, it is possible with enough practice and patience. I don't think that if your parents were good dancers and could stick with a beat, that you would necessarily be guaranteed that you could hold a rhythm, it's just that you have a greater chance or that you would be better than average at the skill.
1 person likes this
@sharone74 (4839)
• United States
9 Dec 09
I think that you may be right. She is getting it somewhat but then frustratingly enough she loses it again midstride. She can do a passable two-step now but that is not the kind of dancing that I am trying to teach her.Add to that that the type of music that I like and like to dance to has very complex beats. Some of it doesn't as I love hip hop but the music that I seem to seek out and really love has complex beats within beats. I have tried to point out to her that you have to seperate your beat out of the melange and stick with it but she seems unable to do that.
• United States
5 Dec 09
I think it is learned but like anything the earlier you learn the better. If you learn todance as a kid it is easy but for an adult there is all of these mental blocks that keep you from being able to just let go and feel the music.
1 person likes this
@sharone74 (4839)
• United States
9 Dec 09
I think that you might be right, She is listening to the kind of music with bump that should help her but no it ain't happening for her.
1 person likes this
@musicman6 (2333)
• United States
6 Dec 09
I am a musician, and I discovered that there are some people that have natural rhythm, and there are other people that have no rhythm at all, and I have tried to teach it to them, and it is very difficult!
@sharone74 (4839)
• United States
9 Dec 09
Have any of those naturally rhythmless people that you have tried to teach succeeded in learning?
1 person likes this
@musicman6 (2333)
• United States
9 Dec 09
No, there are three just here in this town, that have not been able to play or keep rhythm! And one of them is my friend that I have known for 45yrs!
@sharone74 (4839)
• United States
20 Dec 09
So I can pretty much go ahead and abandon hope then? What I am trying to teach my friend is to pole dance and teaching her any of the advanced tricks and combos requires a certain amount of rhythm and coordination. I put one of our practice sessions on my youtube channel recently and I really am beginning to despair of her "getting it". The thing is I want to at the least teach her the basics and all of the moves that make up the beginners course. I have been teaching her for 8 months now and still she is not getting most of the tricks. You can go check out this major lack of rhythm and share my pain at www.youtube.com/synnisin if you like.
1 person likes this
@musicman6 (2333)
• United States
24 Dec 09
Yes, I am so glad you shared this, I am stuck in that situation right now also! When you talk about business, it is necessary to surround yourself with talented people, at least as talented as you , or more if you can! The dilemma I have right now, is, I have musicians that help me, but they are not as quality as I am, and that has hurt my business! It is necessary for a business to succeed to have talented individuals! The reasoning I use comes from what I was reading about George Washington! He was known for being a great leader! But a lot of people don't know that, the people who knew him very well, said about him , it wasn't that he was very intelligent, it was that he knew how to surround himself with people that were intelligent and knew what they were doing and this made him be a success!