Harry Connick Teaches a Whole Audience to Clap on the Backbeat in One Second

This video has been circulating among my musician friends, but in case you haven ‘t seen it:

The highlight of the performance is at 0:39. Did you spot it?

In the beginning of the tune, the audience is clapping on beats 1 and 3, a perennial source of frustration for jazz musicians. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone gripe about hearing people clap on the “wrong” beats.

Personally, I try not to let it bother me. I do not expect general audiences to have internalized the accents of jazz rhythms. They are not the artists; why should we expect them to know better?

In this performance, Harry maintains his smiling demeanor and corrects the audience in the most subtle way — by adding a beat, so that the audience is clapping on beats 2 and 4. They manage to stay on track until the end of the piece, so we know they don’t have difficulty feeling the pulse. However unaware, they have just learned by doing. And Harry taught without words.

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