Musical counting (i.e. keeping track of the numerical names of the beats as you play) is a big deal to me. I’m planning on writing a series of posts on counting sometime soon, but for now I’d like to address a couple “myths” about counting…

Myth #1: “Counting will wreck my feel.” I am constantly surprised at how many musicians choose to ignore counting in an effort to “feel” the music instead, as if the two aren’t compatible. There is nothing about counting that will take the feel out of your playing. Everybody should read the previous sentence again because it’s very important, and IT’S TRUE. “Feel” is an aspect of music that comes from the incredible physical power that music has in communicating orientation. The entire crowd at a U2 concert will be able to clap in unison with a song, because everyone in the stadium can FEEL where beats “2” and “4” are (regardless of whether they know that those beats are named “2” and “4”). Counting along with the music will never take the power of music’s feel away.

Myth #2: “It’s too hard for me to play and count at the same time.” This is like saying that it’s too hard for you to both navigate a car and operate a stick shift. Sure, counting along with your grooves is a little tricky to get used to if it’s new to you, and everyone experiences that at first. But this initial difficulty is not a fair justification for never learning to count, especially when you consider the benefits you’ll notice once you take the time to tackle counting.

Watch for more in-depth posts on counting soon…

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