When we consider “timing,” we often think about the time to start -the point in– but to fill the allocated time correctly, the point out -the release; when to stop- is (almost) equally important.
Catch: We tend to pay all of our attention to the “point in,” but timing something perfectly isn’t merely knowing when to start – also when to stop.
Solution: Be conscious, aware of, and practice the “point out” – the moment of release.
Idea Inspired By/Related To/Stolen From: Groove Masters & Philosophers
“Timing is Everything” – William Shakespeare
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go” – Herman Hesse
Piano Wisdom Nugget 2
Timing. The Point Out
Although the start of something is vital for timing correctly, lingering on too long isn’t just capable of diminishing it’s own (timing) quality, but droning on into the territory of the following thing -task, subject or allocated occurrence- can actually cause troubles for that next thing at hand – whether that being another sound, or a next activity.
When these tasks, or occurrences are related, together forming a complete whole like for instance in music the sequential chords, harmonies, notes and sounds – droning on into the aural space of the next, harmony or note, will in fact diminish the performance, or tune, as a whole.
Therefore, the release -knowing when to, and actually stop- is almost equally important. Stopping at the right moment leaves room for other accents, sounds and fills a beat, measure or any allocated time-frame nicely from begin to end.
Paying attention to the ending of things will make you (sound) way more sophisticated, groovy and overall skilled.
Counterintuitively, when we take a look at those who know timing best – the masters of groove: drummers and percussionists, it seems that with the more percussive types of instruments -where one seems to have no real control over the lengths of notes- the “point in” really is all there is to think about. The sound will just die out (quickly) on itself.
Filling the beat
However, a simple glance at music production (the process of arranging, editing, mixing and sound-designing music in the studio) shows that there’s tons of techniques to do exactly that: control the lengths -and thus the ending– of even these types of sounds to free aural room for the next. One example of a common and famous technique for achieving this is known as “ducking.”
There is a vast array of drummers (and percussionists) that take the “point out” seriously enough to actually cut off some of the sounds they produce when playing live, muting the drums at the very moment they want the beat they’ve played to stop.
On any instrument where one can more easily cut off – that is control the ending of the sound, either by releasing, stopping the airflow or palm-mute (so: virtually any instrument) the player is both blessed with an option and cursed with a responsibility to at least take note of this possibility too.
Thinking about a beat as a set frame in time, means it has a start, but also an ending. Toying with that ending can result in a vast improvement of groove.
Controlling the end, or in other words – knowing when to stop, is obviously much more holistic and goes further than playing music.
Stopping unfruitful endeavors in life
In fact, timing is important for almost anything we do in life. Knowing when to stop plays a huge role in determining the quality of said timing.
For instance, as per seen in the previous nugget, allocating study-time in set, short-burst time frames and thus stopping after a certain amount of time, will prevent your energy and retention fuels from burning out and will thereby greatly improve your overall effectiveness of practice.
In an even greater-life application, knowing when to stop when dealing with dreading and unfruitful situations can prove invaluable. For instance business ventures that have proven themselves hopeless and keep you bleeding money, friend- and relationships that have a negative impact on your life, pointless arguments that cannot be won (as obvious as “loosing” the argument is; “winning” the argument will likely make the other party resent you – still not a positive outcome leaving really no possibility for “winning” at all) or any activity where you keep pouring in resources that are obviously not getting you the desired results. Knowing when to stop in such situations can add efficiency, effectiveness, respect, gratitude and overall happiness to the list of benefits.
Is it easy? Like anything truly worthwhile in life, it’s obviously far from it.
The advice is simple though: try to be aware of- and pay attention not just to when to start but also when to stop.
Simply ask yourself: would the situation improve, if I’d stop?
Exercise / Getting Practical:
In musical practice: devote an entire study session, paying attention to holding your note/chord to fill an entire beat of your choosing.
This could be for instance when playing a quarter-beat pattern (starting the notes at all quarter-beats) to hold the notes/chords for exactly one eighth’ beat – releasing them exactly when the off-beat eighths (those that do not fall together with the quarters) end.
Note how different this sounds from holding them the entire quarter – right up until the next quarter (or even as opposed to just releasing them “random”).
Toying with this can result in magic (hold them for a 16th?).
Larger-scale takeaway and other-areas-of-life application:
Life as a whole. Analyze the situations you are in. The actions and endeavors you are undertaking. The quarrels and the friendships you are in.
Do they add value to your life? Do they make you happy?
Be aware of when something has been enough.
Ask yourself: will the situation improve if I stop?
Similar – Further Reading About This:
- Life as a Whole: When – The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
- Musical Timing Practice: Piano Lingo‘s Practice Room
- Premium Members get access to all sorts of exercises in our Practice Room