ONE BEAT BEHIND
9:30 AM. Saturday morning. Jazzercise class.
“March!” says the class leader, as she cues up the music on her iPod. I stand in my usual spot in the middle of the room and march enthusiastically while anticipating the other moves that come with the lively music. I feel intrepid in this group of mostly 40 year olds even though I have to stifle the impulse to put my hands over my ears to screen out the loud music. I have not a clue as to what the lyrics of Beyoncé, Georgie Porgie, and Brittany Spears’ songs mean, even if I could hear them clearly over the blaring high volume favored by this Gen X crowd.
The beat revves up as does the complexity of the moves. Uh-oh ... that old feeling has come back. Was it really three years ago that I began to lament my position of “last in line?” I have taken my own advice to continue with the activities that I enjoy and am now struggling to find a way to reconfigure my steps to stay with the class at a pace at which I can move comfortably. I am reminded that in a beat or two, I will have reached my maximum speed.
It is not easy to take three steps when the class is taking four. In fact it is a curious rhythm. Can I do it and not freak out the leader as she sees me, almost always on the wrong foot except for my triumphant, on beat, ending when I catch up? I am some what proud of my technique, though it may mark me as just a little “odd” in the class lineup. I continue to hone this method — maybe a bit defensively — to protect myself from a complete flame-out in jazzercise class. With a little calculation, the slower pace and one less step (or turn) can work out even in a ballet class ... well, sometimes it does as ballet demands more precision. Tap class where each tap counts as a beat? I’m working on it.
I used to swim half a mile in 30 minutes. Over the years it began to take me 35 minutes, then 40 minutes to cover the same distance. Why, at that rate, I would be spending all morning in the pool. So I stopped counting laps, and began to watch the clock. 30 minutes, a few less laps than before. And then I’m outa’ the pool and into the hot tub.
“Your tonguing is heavy,” says the conductor as I attempt to play a rapid passage of 16th notes. I cringe inwardly because I have been expecting this critique. OK, though many of my colleagues are excellent musicians, this is not a philharmonic orchestra. So maybe there is a technique for me that I can manage in this ensemble setting. I can’t use my “one beat behind” method here but I can cut the rhythm in half, can’t I? As long as I get to each measure on the beat, I can skip a beat or play half of the notes. The trick will be to wind up at the right place at the right time. I hope no real musician reads this but it takes a bit of talent, perhaps of another kind than the usual musical talent, to pull this off and not affect the group’s clear melodic sound.
I want to continue to choose activities that are a little more advanced than my technique allows and accept the challenge to prove to myself that, yes, I can do it. There is plenty of time in the future for senior-level classes. Maybe we all get a little “off beat” as we age.
But to me, even when I am one beat behind, I feel upbeat!©2008 Adrienne Cannon