Life is full of transitions. Some transitions span a second or two, while others are longer journeys spanning weeks, months, even years. Some transitions connect major sections of a musical composition, others the changes between who we are today and who we were yesterday or last week, and still others the movements between one pose and the next. Life is full of transitions, big and small.
Do you notice transitions? I started thinking about transitions as I reflected on my performance at the trapeze rig. Moving from flying to working in hands with my catcher, I realized that engagement and movement stopped for me once I locked arms with the catcher. This lack of engagement in the transition from my trapeze to the catcher, slowed us down, and diminished the energy and momentum for the next part of the trick. I realized I wasn’t thinking through the transition from my bar to being connected. My lack of engagement at this moment required me to engage again, taking up valuable time in the 15 or so seconds of the trick.
After this, I started noticing how I treat transitions. One place I began noticing is in my yoga and Pilates practice. I found that I often stop both the mental and physical engagement between poses instead of noticing the micro-movements of the transition.
Moving from one pose to another or between any two activities while paying attention to how we get there offers us a unique learning opportunity, and can assist in finding comfort, ease and poise. One question to ask yourself:
- “Did I move fluidly or was it awkward?”
Awkward transitions are those when you feel you have to force the move, and may even be unsure if you will arrive at the new configuration. For me, transitioning from downward dog to any of the lunge poses is awkward. In my mind, I have mapped that I am not flexible enough to complete these moves. This is precisely where I am poised to learn and change, if I pay attention.
Here are two the things I noticed as I observed the transition from downward dog to lunge:
- I hold my breath when I bring my foot forward to the lunge position.
- My foot awkwardly plops onto the ground as it attempts to arrive between my hands.
Wow! Holding the breath for any movement limits range of motion, ease and coordination. I also have the power to make the choice to gently place my foot down while experiencing the current range of motion at the hip joint. Breathing and experiencing movement are important steps to building strength and uncovering coordination. You may even uncover some blind spots in your movement anatomy.
So what does paying attention to transitions in flying trapeze and yoga have to do with music-making? These events, and in fact the activities of life offer me the opportunity to move, learn about my habits and improve my coordination. The movements I refine and the movement independence I cultivate in these seemingly unrelated activities transfer beautifully into playing the flute, offering me a plethora of movement options to draw from to create the sounds, phrases and performances I envision.
What will your transitions teach you? Here are some interesting transitions you can to tune into to uncover habits:
- moving from sitting to standing
- reading off a screen to lookingin the distance
- bringing the fork from the plate to your lips
- moving from one exercise or movement to the next
- holding your instrument to bringing it to playing position
- inhaling between phrases
Paying attention to the transition is your day may help you improve performances on stage, may offer the solution to physical discomfort, or may be the window you to need enjoy life more fully. I can’t wait to find out what else paying attention to transitions will reveal to me? I would love to know what you observe and learn! Enjoy!