There is some kind of mechanism within us, a mechanism which helps us to connect to music, which guides our movements so the music and dancers are proceeding connected, in harmony. Many times the dancers who base their dance on this mechanism experience that the music is moving them, they dance intuitively.
The most usual subjects on musicality courses are the structure of a song and/or how to count the beats or some other structures in music. This works well for the students with musical background but can be very ineffective for students with other background. It may even slow down the development and have a negative impact on their confidence. The situation for this group is similar to the one when they want to get a driving license and the community forces them to learn all the information in Japanese or in another unknown language.
I had really hard time there!
Therefore I needed to find my own way to develop this intuitive musicality so I started to train myself by using my emotions and feeling of timing as tools.
The song's emotional impact
To explore the song's emotional impact on me I usually was sitting on the floor so I could freely move my upper body, arms and hands if I felt for a bodily expression to the song. This position gave me a possibility to large variation of movements as well as grade of intensity and size for gestures. I let the music invade me, let it activate my heart and little by little the emotional impact got stronger within me. On the dance floor my movements are maybe the same as earlier but the emotional expression is in place in a more powerful manner.
The musical timing
For musical timing I walked when I was listening to songs. When I am out of the music, there is a dull feeling, a feeling of that something is missing. The opposite situation became more clear too: When I am on the music there is a kind of positive feeling. Soon I noticed that I was chasing that feeling, trying to get it more exact, trying to get a stronger feeling and I tried to keep that feeling continuously alive. I developed a violent passion for walking to music and an hour was just a starter. I nearly ruined my knees during the most intensive period!
During my first ten years of tango the ideas above were the only knowledge, the only musical training I had. I was totally unaware of beats, I heard them but I was not aware of them. It was a hell when a teacher asked us to step on ONE . I did not know but my musicality was appreciated by followers and they often comment on it positively.
The first bit of intellectual understanding and hearing the beats came after I studied Joaquin Amenábars book about tango music. After two weeks of training, provided by his book I heard, for first time in my life, the beats clearly! I did not need to learn music terms, but through the exercises my body and ear were learning to work together in a new way.
This will never be the strong side in my dance but now, if needed, I can press my hearing to get the beats.
So my main point here is that you can be a totally intuitive dancer and still be doing ok, you can fix your training yourself and still offer some beautiful dances.
If you are interested about Joaquin Amenábars book Tango Let's dance to the music! you find more information via the link below. This book provided me the basic training but my friend who has high level educations (music teacher, composer) found the syncopation section especially worth to study.