Sunday, May 23, 2010

Having What I Want

Last month, I told you about a piece I had begun for solo flute. Since then, I made the time to complete the piece and enter it into music publishing software (so that a performer is looking at a page of professional-looking music rather than the original hand-scrawled version!). A few days ago, I received feedback from a couple of flautists about the piece.

What I wanted from this piece was to tap into my own playfulness and compose a piece of music that would be satisfying to play and accessible to young performers. And I wanted to write something that had the potential for multiple performances. Composing this piece also gave me an opportunity to conquer the belief that I need several hours set aside if I want to be productive. Much of the actual creation of the piece happened as I had a few extra minutes waiting in a restaurant or a parking lot, which was possible because I had such a clear impression of the piece in my mind. For that alone, the project has been valuable to me.

My fear was that I had made some sections too virtuosic or that I had written a piece that sounded cliche. I learned about the capabilities of the flute. I've heard dozens of solo flute pieces. I've worked with several flautists as an accompanist. And yet, the underlying fear was that I didn't know what I was doing. It was important to me to run the piece past a performer or two, in order to verify that I had accomplished what I wanted. To be blunt, I wanted someone else to tell me that I knew what I was doing so I had an external reason to let go of that fear.

So much of what I have been wrestling with has been the belief that I can't have what I want. Whether it's about my music, my business, my relationships, or my finances, my first hurdle is convincing myself that I can actually have what I want. It's a challenge to even clarify what I want if I believe that I can't get it anyway. And my fears seem very reasonable in that space, even though I know that they are products of my creativity running unproductively rampant.

Deep down, I know that I am a capable composer, and I know that this piece is all that I wanted it to be: playful, playable, short, accessible, idiomatic, and fun. I didn't really need someone else to tell me those things. But the confirmation from other trusted sources helped me to verify which beliefs were on target, and that in turn weakened the bite of my fears about the piece and myself. By getting feedback from others, I also learned that I had written a piece with pedagogical value, which means that a flute teacher has more of a reason to give it to a student.

So my next step is to find performers who are interested in programming the piece. Which brings me to the realization of what I most want. In everything that I am doing, in every aspect of my life and career, the thing that ties it all together for me is connection with others. That connection even plays an important part in keeping me centered with myself. What I want most is deep connection and meaningful engagement with others. And I believe I can have that.

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