Music starts at the beginning and, of course, ends at the conclusion! In between, there is a continuous forward motion that is part of our life in time and space.

When someone is learning how to play an instrument, the tendency is to notice a mistake or problem and to stop, go back, and work on the discrepancy. In many cases, that’s a good practice technique during the early phases of learning a piece.

But in a lot of settings, like jams or rehearsals or concerts or recordings, it’s more important to follow the inexorable passage of time and keep moving toward that culmination, without a pause or interruption.

To enable that, we need to develop a sense for the consistent passage of time in our minds, an ‘internal metronome’, and latch the particular music of the moment to that motion --- then, if something happens that doesn’t match, we follow the progression in our mind and catch up to it as if nothing happened.

Really! As musicians we must have the music running in our minds --- sometimes even to the point of fantasizing that we’re playing a duet with our alter ego in our mind!

As an unaccompanied soloist, that is essential. Also, if playing with other people, we need to all have the virtual musician going in our minds! Thus, we can all refer to that amazing flow and listen to each other and feel the rolling forward of time and coordinate our mutual music-making. The sense of camaraderie can seem almost other-worldly at times, and is very gratifying!

What an astonishing feature of the human experience! We can join together in a spiritual unity of purpose as we move ahead into the future --- and any mistakes or miscues are left in the past as we unite for the musical goal we all have at the moment.

Don’t stop unless you absolutely have to (and those times do occasionally come, even for professional orchestras). Rather, develop the mental musical vision, and join with it as you play!

Keep it going!