Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Greetings Funkamites. A few weeks ago I wrote about not knowing what I want to be when I grow up. That's still true.
However, I do have several things that I do like to do. It's because I do several things that it's difficult to pin one down and focus on it. Several artists throughout the ages have suffered the same plight. My favorite composer, Mozart, struggled his entire life with the need to compose vs. the need to survive. It's partially because of his musical inspiration in my life that I strive to do the same for others in my own special way, albeit my mark may not be as profound as Mozart's.
So here is a list of the things I need in my life that make it difficult for me to pin down a specific career destiny.
I have been writing music since I was 14 years old. No big deal (especially compared to Mozart - Age 4 - showoff), but for me that's a total of 23 years of doing something that I absolutely adore to do. The only thing I don't like about composition is DEADLINES. And when you're a composition student, your whole life is deadlines. I went to college 20 years ago to study piano and in one year had switched to composition as a major. In three more years, I picked up the piano major again and double-majored. After graduating, it took me 6 years to return to get a Masters' degree and in the two years I worked on that, it was a combination of pleasure and extreme stress. Pleasure from doing what I love, stress because of the DEADLINES. I like to write when the wind of inspiration blows my way, though every composition teacher I've ever had has told me to "always be writing." I always am writing - just not on schedule.
This is why I shy away from doctoral level study. It's been 7 years since my Masters' degree and the only words I associate with applying to PhD programs is: Application DEADLINE.
I have been teaching for 16 years - high school, middle school, and college. What started off as a summer job is now my full-time occupation. Teaching allows me to make music, work with young minds, and hopefully inspire young hearts. However, I did not envision that my life would be as a teacher (neither did Mozart, but of course he didn't have to - showoff!). However, if I pursue occupation #1further into academia, this is mostly all I could be for the rest of my life. Don't get me wrong. I love teaching, but I also need . . .
Hey, don't judge me! I said I need it, not love it. There's just not a lot of financial security for your children when you're a teacher, unless of course your child chooses (or you help them choose) the institution at which you teach. I currently have only one child, but I would like more. I just don't want my new child's first words to be "papa broke."
(Mozart didn't have a lot of money either and died penniless - AH HA HA HA - YEEAAHH! TAKE THAT WOLFGANG!)
I like playing the piano for all kinds of engagements - receptions, cocktail parties, weddings, (NO FUNERALS - unless I know the family), musicals, dance recitals, concerts, or just for fun. I like playing alone and with others, and I've been in a few bands. I've played in churches, concert halls, hotels, schools, clubs, homes, and even outside in the streets. I am not the world's greatest pianist (but neither was Mozart - BURNN!), but I was good enough to earn my Bachelors of Music in Performance, and I thank my parents for the gift of piano lessons. Performance is very difficult to maintain when being a teacher. Another thing that is difficult is . . .
I have a burning desire and need to record everything I've written. This presents quite a problem because recording takes time and often requires other people to make it happen. Therefore, this becomes more like a hobby that gets focused on when you're able. I've gone from using a cheap cassette recorder, to 4-track machines, to DATs, to ProTools. (No reference to Mozart. They didn't even have electricity.) An amazing thing to happen to a recording is to have it open a door to becoming a stream of income. Of course, I speak of the . . .
6. MUSIC BUSINESS
People always ask me - "Funkyman, how come you don't sell your songs?" Good question. Am I afraid? Yes. I'm afraid of the horrible stories of what happens to one's music and what happens to your individual purity and integrity as an artist. Remember, it's the music BUSINESS. Music is the product. And all financiers care about product is that it makes money. Maybe I shouldn't be so afriad. But the truth is I have over 100 songs that I think are worthy of a greater audience. (Mozart had to deal with business as well, and he didn't much like it either. I feel you my brother.) Until I gather up the courage to go that road, I will continue to play my songs for friends, family, and students, and share some of my compositions in the realm of . . .
7. MUSIC MINISTRY
I have been a church musician for 21 years and I have had a pretty routine schedule playing piano/keyboard/organ during worship services every Sunday for that time. However, recent developments have me not playing at all in any church on Sundays and just attending service like the average parishioner. This is confusing to those who know me, and honestly it's confusing for me, too. However, I find that the demands of being a musician at church require rehearsals, consistent 5 hours of work on Sundays and several other extra services in and around Boston. With composition, teaching, performing, and recording, I've already sacrificed the amount of time I can spend away from my . . .
8. FAMILY - Last on the list but first in my heart, I will refuse to do too much of any of the above if it means sacrificing the life and time I have with my wife and daughter. Many find they have to be away from their family in order to achieve the goals of a career, and that's true to some degree. But every man and woman has to draw the line somewhere, and I draw the line pretty darn close to home. Life is short, and whether or not I figure out the career thing, I want to be able to spend every waking minute I have being in love and being loved.
Composing original music for modern theater, playing/conducting musicals on Broadway, being in a successful band, being an ordained minister - all careers that have eluded me though I once considered them all seriously. What does tomorrow hold? I don't know. I'll have to settle for not knowing and continuing to try to do the many different things I love.
Yes, today it's enough for me to be . . .