What’s the best way to learn to recognise the beat in music?

09 April 2019
By Melanie Spanswick
Melanie Spanswick answers your questions every Tuesday.

Welcome to Q&A Tuesday with Melanie Spanswick! This is a brand-new series in which pianist, author, teacher and composer Melanie will tackle all your burning questions every Tuesday.


Our third question comes from Twitter. @bounder6 asks:

"What’s the best way to learn to recognise the beat in music?"

This is such an important skill to master and there are several useful methods of learning to feel the pulse or the beat. The crux of the matter is 'feeling' the pulse.

Take your right hand and place it over your heart. After a while (hopefully not too long!), you will feel your heartbeat and you'll notice how regular it is, providing the body with the necessary 'life' pulse. Leave your right hand over your heart, and with your left-hand drum your second finger on a table top (or similar) in time with the pulse of your heart. Make sure you 'place' or tap the left-hand finger at precisely the same time as your heart is beating. This is 'feeling' the pulse.

Alternatively, listen to some pop or modern music; nearly all pop, rock, or latin music contains a firm beat. Become aware of the underlying 'pulse' in a similar manner to tuning into your heartbeat. The drums are often responsible for this beat in modern music. When you've identified the drum beat, start clapping along with it. This can be quite a challenge, but it is a fun experiment and will make you very aware of the main pulse in a piece of music.

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After further practice, you will eventually be able to recognise if a piece is in 2, 3, or 4 time, as it will become obvious where the 'stronger' beat falls.


Need a metronome to help you with locating the beat? We've got some left in our store for you. Find out more here.


Join us next Tuesday for question 4.

Have you got a question you’d like to ask? Contact Ellie at [email protected].