Timing is everything.
I’ve heard that saying over and over from skilled musicians as I’ve struggled to learn the guitar.
They are usually talking about playing chords and keeping to the beat, but they tell me timing is also crucial for soloing.
Then they say something like, it’s not about how many notes you play or how fast you play them; it’s all about when you play them. BB King often gets cited as an example.
It may sound like I am about to waffle on about how my efforts to develop timing have improved my guitar playing, but that hasn’t happened so I’m not going to do that.
Instead I’m going to tell you how being aware of timing has helped me improve my back patio.
Odd change of direction? Maybe, but the point I’m hoping to make is that timing isn’t just important in making music, it is important in many other aspects of life as well.
I’ve decided to focus on landscaping and outdoors construction because that area is packed with concrete examples.
Soon after I bought my home in England, I extended the patio with three rows of half-metre by half-metre paving stones.
It looked like a straightforward job so I did it myself with a fair bit of help from four teenage daughters and nephews.
Over the next five years, however, the additional rows settled unevenly so I decided to re-do the job.
When the conditions seemed ideal, my daughter and I pulled and stacked all the stones that needed to be relayed and then I bought six bags of sand from the local building merchant.
You can’t drive to a dry river and shovel sand into your bakkie over here, so you buy it in 25kg bags.
Then I started to level the foundation. It hadn’t rained for two weeks so the sand was dry and easy to work, and aside from needing to buy two more bags, that part of the job went smoothly.
I then moved on to replacing the pavers.
I was hoping to lay them all the same day I levelled the foundation to take advantage of the dry weather but that turned out to be too much for my legs and back so I left the job half done overnight.
Fortunately, the rains held off and I set the last pavers the next morning and swept dry sand into the cracks to lock them in place.
About two hours later it started to rain.
Talk about good timing. If the sand had been wet it would have been far more difficult to level and smooth and it would not have settled properly when I tried to sweep it into the cracks.
The thing about timing, though, is that you need to have time to take advantage of it.
You can’t wait for perfect conditions to pull weeds, turn the soil, lay pavers or do anything else that is affected by nature if you are working six days a week or your social life is packed.
Maybe that means that while timing is needed to solo well on the guitar, being able to solo in life is required to develop timing.