As of today, it’s been about 10 months since my last composition lesson. It’s certainly not from a lack of wanting, but some fairly sizable time commitments have gotten in the way—you know, like student teaching so I can finish up my degree, and then job hunting. I didn’t really have time to write a whole lot in the spring because of lesson planning, score study and a couple of classes. I’ve been finding over the last month or so that I miss writing music a lot—even more than I miss regularly playing my trombone.
But, there’s a lot of rust to be shaken off. Just like with any musical instrument, you can’t take an extended layoff and expect to come back to it as if you’d never stopped. My ears could use a little work, I’ve had to get familiar with the software once again, and I’ve even had to thumb through my old music theory texts to jog my memory on some things.
Who would have guessed that creating 12-tone matrices isn’t like riding a bike? Neglect them for long enough, and that skill starts to fade.
To make a long story short, there’s been a lot of practice and re-learning before anything useful has been put down on a staff. The ear trainer at Ricci Adams’ site is an invaluable tool and recordings of live performances on YouTube (Eric Whitacre, Gustav Mahler, etc.) have done an admirable job of helping create a constantly musical environment.
In the absence of any lesson-planning duties, all of this free time is going a long way toward helping me actually finish some projects that had previously been the victims of serious procrastination.
The re-entry into this aspect of my former music student life has also had an unexpected benefit—the creative outlet has actually re-energized my teaching when I sub. It’s making me excited to learn and discover new musical things, and hopefully at least a little bit of that enthusiasm is being passed along to the students I teach. It’s even showing up in the non-music subject, which is a must. The enthusiasm helps me engage the students, which I was finding difficult when I was forced out of my comfort zone into a science/maths/history classroom.
Stay tuned for further updates on the actual composition projects themselves.