Stay On the Beat but Don’t Rush

I was fortunate enough to have a handful of lessons and days spent with, in my opinion, the greatest trumpet player in the world;  Carl Saunders.  Not only is he an amazing technical bebop player but his tone is bluesy and personal, his range has no limits high or low, and his lines flow endlessly from tasty lick to tasty lick across the complete range of the horn in a one breath phrase longer than expected.  In short, he’s jaw dropping.  See for yourself:

Of course, he could also scat, sing, compose hundreds of tunes, play drums, bass and piano extremely well.  He is truly an extremely talented person.  In my time with him he gave me lots of honest feedback and very wise tips.  I’ve always thought that 70 year olds have the best advice.  They’ve really lived, accomplished much, proven their hold here, and are carefree enough to pass on their honest stories and lessons.

One of my favorite quotes of his was “stay on the beat but don’t rush.”  He was speaking musically but I interpreted this also metaphorically.  It’s about life.  Pay attention to where you are, consciously be aware and stay on the beat – in the moment – but don’t rush.  Don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t overthink or over do anything, just be where you are.

Musical time is also one of those things that gets better with age because it has to do with time itself!  Someone older who has been through many lessons and learned about what stays the same through the changes and the years will have better musical time than a beginning piano student.  Sure, this is because of their difference in experience, training and development but also their experience and understanding of time.  Or the fact that those 3 things take place over time.  So time improves as one gains more experience with time or simply has lived more life.

As CS used to end phone conversations, “stay on the beat, but don’t rush.” 🙂