Taking Time

This is a cross-post between dancing and music. And yet again, I find that lessons learned at the keyboard and on the dance floor reflect those learned in life. This time it's about relaxing into and taking up the full measure of time. That to play and dance (and live) our best, we must pretend like we have all the time in the world rather than to feel gated by it.

In dancing, this lesson can be learned in a simple move like a pass by. To make the movement the richest, the key is to take the full about of time to do the subtle turn and eventually reach the end of your rope. If you rush through the movement, the dance will look jerky. If you're too slow, you've fallen behind the beat. But too often we rush, panicked to get to the end of the line so we can get on to the next thing. Getting outside of this mentality (which I call thinking positionally) is the key to smooth, rhythmic movement, and like all good things involves being in the present, living the current beat to its fullest potential.

In jazz, I learned this lesson transcribing a McCoy Tyner solo on the standard "Blue Monk". When I came to a particularly difficult passage with lots of fast 16th+ notes, I started feeling anxious and would rush the measure. When I played on top of the recording however, I realized just how relaxed McCoy was playing. He also did something clever where he rushed a triplet so he could play more relaxed 16th notes (more on this sort of time distention later - which is useful in both dance and music). Playing with him reminded me to relax into the measure, to act as though I have all the time in the world to make the notes as rich as possible.

And of course, this is a life lesson too. Like in music and dance, it's all to easy to rush along, thinking in milestones, thining about getting to the next thing rather than really enjoying the richness of the current moment. It's hard to do and even harder to keep up, but the details of these hobbies like these remind me more and more how important the present mindset is for enjoyment and quality.