How Jazz Makes Us Better Drivers

Jazz is a music of spirited, in-the-moment and consciously aware individuals making rapid fire decisions dedicated to creating a beautifully crafted and executed group performance. Jazz teaches and demands the ability to communicate sometimes opposing views in the spirit of discovering a soulful resolution. Jazz asks of the performers to effectively work together and to celebrate the individual voice while achieving the group’s collective goal. Imagine applying this to the art of driving together on our roadways and highways…

Left Lane Drivers

In a jazz performance, there is a sense of how can I play my best while making everyone else sound the best they can. With this in mind, we can – at all times – help and assist the group to perform at their upmost best. There is no ego. There is no desire to block another player from doing what they do. In this spirit, drivers would be acutely aware of the flow and speed of traffic. Drivers would only use the left lane to quickly pass and then immediately return to the right lane leaving the left lane clear. Drivers would not block other drivers and would drive with a firm desire to make the flow of traffic as efficient as possible. This is the spirit of jazz.

Cruise Control

Using cruise control will immediately reveal in your driving how inconsistent your speed is around corners, up and down hills, around the town and on the interstate. It will also reveal how inconsistent other drivers are with their speed. Cruise control maintains a steady speed, increases gas mileage and helps smooth out the flow of traffic. It’s like using a metronome and learning how to play in tempo, to play in-the-pocket and to be consistent in your rhythmic execution of any musical passage. Playing in tempo – or driving with cruise control – creates a coordinated and gratifying dance between everyone. Everyone is in sync and flows with ease. Another reason how Jazz makes us better drivers.

Being Aware

When you’re in the heat of a solo, would you dare look at your phone, put on eye liner, fall into a daydream daze or even watch Netflix? No, you are keenly alert and aware of what you’re doing. You are awake, in-the-moment and doing your best to present an amazing performance. You know exactly what is going on with your bandmates at all times. You know where you and where everyone else is in the tune’s form, what is coming up next and the natural tension and release points. You are aware of who is playing what part, who is playing a supporting role and who is taking the lead. You are alert!

In the same way, driving with awareness and being alert at all times is best for everyone. You see your position in the flow of traffic in relation to what is happening behind you and what is coming up ahead of you. You anticipate a lane change in advance, you see the faster car coming from behind and you support their upcoming “solo” by making room for them. You are driving in the moment, flowing in coordination with your bandmates. Everybody wins.

Summary on How Jazz Makes Us Better Drivers

When we drive with the spirit of jazz, we drive with a purpose and intention of making it the best experience for all. We navigate traffic with ease because we are alert of the tune at hand – the flow and rhythm of the traffic. We anticipate, we support, we take the lead or we support. We’re at all times trying to put on the best performance possible with all the players on the bandstand. We support each other and leave room when needed. We move with efficiency. We swing.

TIPS

  • Know when to lead and when to support your bandmates.
    Only use the left lane for passing.
  • Practice with a metronome and play in tempo.
    Use cruise control to normalize your speed, save gas and create efficient traffic flow.
  • Be alert. Play in-the-moment and focus on your performance and overall agenda of the group to perform at its best.
    Drive with purpose and awareness. Do not text message, apply make-up or otherwise be distracted when driving.
See Wynton’s 12 Ways to Practice

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