Thursday, September 26, 2013

Perception of time

You know that time when you dropped your bachi and it felt like it took 5 minutes to pick it up?  Odds are it didn’t even take 5 seconds.  Or how about that time when you were soloing and felt like you were leisurely thinking about what to do next?  I’ll bet your solo was over before you realized it.

Now, I’m no neuroscientist and I don’t know any neuroscientists.  But I am fascinated with how the brain works and perceives reality.  Temporal perception varies depending on what we’re doing at any given moment.  “Time flies when you’re having fun” is a great example of this principle at work.  But the opposite is true in those moments when we need it to be.

The other day we had an outdoor gig at a local community college.  During one piece I had a short solo for 8 counts.  Although I had set this solo previously to make sure I could nail it, I was still thinking to myself about each strike, the spaces in between those strikes, which count I was on, and if I was on tempo or not.  I was having a verbal dialogue in my head and didn’t think much of it, until I saw the video that a friend had posted on Facebook.  I watched my solo take literally all of four seconds.  My perception of time in those four seconds was way out of scale with reality at the time!

I know I’m not being mind-blowing here talking about some things seeming longer or shorter than they actually are, but just remember that the next time you drop your bachi or make a mistake that seems to last forever, don’t be so hard on yourself – it passed by much faster than it seemed to for you!

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