Improving one’s musicality
Here are some thoughts from early last year – finally seeing the light of day!! 😉
During a workshop, someone in all seriousness asked, “We can do all these exercises while you are here. How does one improve one’s musicality when you are not around?”
The teacher’s suggestion was (paraphrasing) “Spend more time listening to music, and watching videos on Youtube for examples of people dancing to different types of music. But watch less of the figures.”
I think this is very sound advice. The desire/need to improve musicality is a serious problem for many smallish communities outside of Buenos Aires. I mean, it is one thing to lament the lack of “musicality” – however you may choose to define it – of the gringos, European, Asian or otherwise, it’s another to offer concrete advice on how to head in the right direction.
Personally, I have found the oft-quoted routine advice of “listening to more music” to be lacking. After all, many of us lack the language or cultural context to connect well with music written and played more than half a century ago, no? In order to elicit an emotional response, you’d need to have some feelings towards a particular piece of music and, well, some prejudices about the style of dancing!?
On the other hand, watching ordinary people (middle-aged couples, not teachers or even well-known milongueros) dance in the milongas during my trip to Buenos Aires was really inspirational. Seeing the joy on people’s faces, the engagement and commitment to each other on the dance floor, and also the passion to the music they were dancing, it was not difficult to “feel” different parts of the music after a while. Naturally, being already familiar with most of tracks helped too. However, while seeing happy faces often meant good connections, it did not always imply good technique and, for me, it didn’t matter…