When I work with young musicians, I usually give them a set of guidelines called John’s Grimoire. One of the principals of the Grimoire is the following:
There are three aspects to every sound:
Beginning – Duration – Ending
Care for the duration of each note as you would a child,
and respect the silence between sounds.
This silence “between sounds” is something I have come to appreciate more as I mature as a musician myself. At a recent performance, a colleague and I had just finished an improvisation (piano and voice) and as it ended, I was struck by the beauty of silence. Not only did it help me appreciate more deeply what had just happened, but it also gave me space to actually hear what was coming next.
When do I start the next piece? Even after thirty seconds, the sound and affect of the previous music was still resounding across the room. As I waited and actually enjoyed the absence of music, the time came to begin the Bach Invention. It was palpable…almost obvious…but certainly later in time that I would have initially guessed.
When do you start the next thing? Giving time to absorb and process what has already happened always takes more time than you think. Take the time, and respect the silence between sounds. I’ve found that starting the next thing is always later than I expect. Put another way: those things I start too early (at the wrong time) rarely fulfill me.