Music is So Flippin’ Hard: Adversity Training for Musicians

Image of a tree extremely bent from harsh winds

We have spent thousands of hours in practice rooms and countless hours alone composing, practicing, and pursuing funding.  Music is hard. But we can use the adversity training idea to fully embrace the challenge that music, and the surrounding industry, brings to our lives.

Saad Haddad: It’s Not Going to Be Exact

Saad Haddad

Though born, raised, and compositionally trained in Southern California and currently pursuing a master’s degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of John Corigliano, 23-year-old Saad Haddad has been focused on creating music that incorporates traditional Middle Eastern musical aesthetics. But he is not at all dogmatic in his transfer of Arabic music theory to pieces that are designed to be interpreted by musicians trained in Western classical music and performed for its usual audiences.

Define Inspiration

Closeup of Jim Stephenson sitting in front of his piano, struggling in front of a piece of score paper that is marked up with various things crossed out and a section labelled "Bad"

Let’s consider the case of this article. The title occurred to me in an instant, and within that instant, I knew I had enough ideas to fill an article. Up until that point, I honestly had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about. I am not claiming that it is a “divinely inspired” title, as that would be a little presumptuous. But the fact remains, it came to me when I needed it, so that I could meet my deadline.

Pursuing Diversity: New Voices, New Sounds

Street Crowd

Surrounding ourselves with a diversity of people will help to make us smarter and more creative. Building it into our projects will continue to result in innovative works and better music. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.

Stay Tuned: Celebrating Ben Johnston’s 90th Birthday with his 10 String Quartets

Ben Johnston and the members of the Kepler Quartet

By virtue of our recording project, the Kepler Quartet has had a privileged window into the essentially spiritual quest in Ben Johnston’s music. Johnston embraces a richer way of being: to work towards pure, honest relationships with others by using a vertical, harmonic approach concentrating on perfect intervals which produce less discord, increased resonance, and maximum clarity. At age 90, a full fifteen years after he stopped writing music, Johnston has come to a place in his life where his main goal is to have a positive impact on his environment.

The Pun is Mightier than the Portmanteau

Orchestra performing with some players dressed in Santa Claus costumes.

I was told after I wrote it—by a (perhaps too) “serious” musician—that BasSOON It Will Be Christmas wouldn’t get played much. Well, it gets played at least a dozen times annually and has been played by many top orchestras, such as the symphonies of Atlanta, Houston, and Pittsburgh.

Power of the Project-Based Life

jenga playing

To thrive in the 21st century, we need to rethink our philosophies around how we conceive of success and our methods of making money. What would it look like if we all changed the way we view our careers? What would music schools look like if we changed the way we message vocation?

What to Ware? A Guide to Today’s Technological Wardrobe

Circuitry for Salvage

Significant features distinguish software from hardware in terms of their apparent (or at least perceived) suitability for specific musical tasks, and this has an often-unremarked influence on musical processes. Nic Collins draws out some illuminating distinctions.

Choosing the Three-Letter Response Over the Two-Letter One

The concert at the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim showing the members of the orchestra in front of a film projection and the audience.

There was a very distinct point at the beginning of my composing career when a decision changed absolutely everything for me. My future would take time to pan out, of course, but at the moment when I chose the three-letter response instead of the two-letter one, an entirely new career path was set into motion.

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