When I was younger, I held the self-deluded belief that I was an expert in multitasking. I prided myself on my ability to see multiple projects simultaneously through to successful completion. During my stint working as a production editor at an educational music publisher, I began to understand that my self-regard was, to put it mildly, less than accurate. I found much greater comfort during the periods when I could focus on a single publication than during those times when I would need to juggle multiple deadlines.
I greatly admire those composers who can mediate between multiple pieces and a day job and all the other tasks that go into a composition career; however, I find that I fail when I attempt to enact this paradigm. When it’s time to grade papers, I need to sit down and grade until they are done. When I send off materials, I like to send to many places at once. When I compose, I give all my attention to a single piece. Meanwhile, compositional ideas percolate in the back of my mind, rarely bubbling toward consciousness as they begin to form. Ideally, this planning allows me to complete each project with alacrity.
When multiple tasks command attention, I invariably find that some fall by the wayside while I focus on the most pressing need. This can become problematic when it entails keeping up with my day job and composing at the same time. When I am neck-deep in composing, I tend to go into what I call “hermit mode.” Emails go unanswered. Phone calls unreturned. Friends sometimes wonder whether I’m safe. Like any good Gemini, I exit these periods with an insatiable thirst for human interaction, leading immediately into my next term of sequestration.
Over the past two weeks, I researched video editing software, purchased an appropriate program, taught myself how to use this program, and began creating a video accompaniment for a piece that will be premiered by the bassoon supergroup Dark in the Song at the upcoming International Double Reed Society national conference. As the piece nears completion, I am proud of my first attempt to pair my music with original video while simultaneously realizing how far I still need to journey in order to achieve real artistry with my video work. Meanwhile, my garden is overgrown with weeds (literally—this is not a metaphor).
I cannot wait to reach the end of this project, to poke my head above ground and to say hi again. And to launch back to my desk to create some music. That viola piece isn’t going to write itself!