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Salsa: Ear Training

Salsa’s Manifestation
About The Tutorials
Course Design
Tutorial Programme
Index of Tracks
Our Sound Designers
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I am dancing salsa for 4 months and I don't like it - I love it... I had difficulties hearing the rhythm and I could barely dance in the clubs without teacher counting the rhythm aloud. Then I started reaserching what was available on the internet containing salsa rhythm. I surfed dozens of pages and learned about clave and instruments, how they look and what they sound like. And then I found

You made the best salsa rhythm tutorial I found on the web. Detail explanations, a lot of exercises and audio clips at 144, 154, 165, 176, 188 and 201bpm!!! The very first exercise conga without clave was enlightening.

Thank you very much for your tutorial. I am sure there are thousands of people thinking the same like me about your tutorial, but probably every tenth or fiftieth sends you a similar mail like I did. You made a big contibution to the salsa scene all around the world!

Bok from Zagreb!


Course Design

Cultivating a conscious understanding of salsa's music is probably the aspect most overlooked by a developing dancer. It is arguably salsa's greatest challenge and, at the same time, its greatest reward.

If you've completed our Salsa: Level One and Merengue Tutorials; and would like a stronger grasp of the music, then these tutorials are for you. The programme is designed to help you understand the roles of percussion & rhythm instruments in salsa, allowing you to interact and derive timing from them. In short, it defines the dancer's part as a percussionist in music.

The programme consists of a series of progressive tutorials, which take you through three stages of development:

  • Stage I: Determining the Beats of a Phrase
    Identifying the four beats in a bar (or measure) of music, and understanding the two-bar phrase. Interacting with the master rhythm or clave.
  • Stage II: Clave as Universal Constant
    Distinguishing the timbre and patterns of particular instruments. Recognising your rhythmic location using these patterns.
  • Stage III: More about Salsa's Rhythms
    Exploiting your increased sensitivity to rhythm through exposure to salsa's more esoteric patterns.


Compared with visually-based content like styling and dance vocabulary, these aurally-based tutorials can seem a little dry. If you find this the case, then just dip into them occasionally (it works nearly as well). The tutorials assume that you'll be dancing “on one” though you should be able to adapt to any other system with very little effort (see The Complete Merengue Tutorials > Tutorial Programme > Transformations: Merengue to Salsa).

For further information about teaching and learning, you may like to read our instructors course manual.


1999 Salsa & Merengue Society