As a community of music colleagues, we have a problem—and we all share the responsibility to make it better. As it turns out, the research Sheryl Sandberg discusses in Lean In may help us.
While the Tubby the Tuba CD is certainly one tool when it comes to teaching kids about classical music, could it be that we’re underestimating children? When we assume they wouldn’t like or understand a challenging piece of music, we don’t even give them a chance.
Mode Records asked me to create a realization of Morton Feldman’s graphic orchestral piece Intersection I. This article follows the conception, execution, and destruction of my work.
Some sons go camping or on a fishing trip with their fathers when they know that time is winding down. I wanted to create a new musical work with my dad. At first he insisted he was too old to get involved. Just hours after my dad left the planet, I learned that Ansel Adams: America had received a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition. This felt like my dad was winking at me, grinning and giving me a congratulatory hug from the other side.
One of the most important tools for a composer to develop is an intuition about material, about its possibilities for manipulation and development. But now that I’ve had enough practice turning off that intuition, I can see and hear how it’s not necessarily the material, or even the choice of material, that makes or breaks a piece of music.
I have regular contact with many older composers, and increasingly many younger ones, but apart from a few close composer friends from my student days I seem to have very few peers of my own generation. I was born in 1966 and that puts me in the era of “Generation X”.
A large-scale work for the bassoon by a well-known composer would not only be a giant step for the bassoon community, but it would also create a greater awareness of our instrument in the new music community.
Elliott has been a wonderful example of the composer as a knowledgeable, educated person with a broad-based understanding of things. That a composer we respected as a leader would come to a workshop with young students, ask questions that told us what he didn’t know, and take notes, was very impressive. My guess is that at that time in his career, he had achieved a level of self-confidence and comfort with what he was doing musically that allowed him to display without embarrassment what he didn’t know.
I realized I would not be able to learn what I wrote, and so I moved on to revising. Was this piece so difficult that saxophonists would not be able to learn it accurately? Or was I, as the performer, not capable of achieving the composer’s vision?
We musicians get a lot of conflicting information about what kind of compensation our work deserves. Too often, the message is that if you’re in it for the money, something’s probably wrong with you.