I live! It certainly has been a while since I posted an update. But here I am.
It has been a whirlwind season. Over the last few months, I have been focusing on teaching, while my composing has been on the back burner. But I think it is time to change that.
This past week, I had the pleasure of having two of my pieces workshopped by the very impressive Vancouver Chamber Choir under the direction of Jon Washburn. It was an amazing and gratifying experience. Hearing my own compositions come to life was a success in and of itself, but the feedback I received was invaluable.
But I found myself in a predicament. For a moment, I doubted myself. I was listening to Be Still and The Lobster-Quadrille and pieces by three other composers at various stages in their own careers, and all I could think was “my pieces aren’t good enough!”
It was a moment of weakness. But I think it may have done me some good. I think, as an artist, I spend about eighty percent of my time doubting myself. Artists seem to be more susceptible to self-doubt than other professions. But it’s what we do with that self-doubt that matters. And I plan to use that to propel me forward in my budding career as a composer.
Time is moving fast! I can’t believe it’s already the end of October and Canada is getting chilly!
Since my last post, I have been working. Actually working. Teaching piano and voice at two different companies. It’s exciting but also exhausting! But it’s the good kind of exhausting. The kind of exhausted you feel after being extremely productive. Unfortunately, getting used to a new schedule has made it difficult to write. But I am remedying that.
In the coming year, I will be making an effort to get more of my music performed, entering competitions and getting in touch with Ottawa choirs. It’s tough networking (especially as an introvert) but I have grown a lot this year. Next year I am looking forward to more growth as an artist.
That’s all for now!
With summer (and my unintentional hiatus) coming to a close, my life has suddenly gotten busy again. It should surprise no one that being in two community choirs creates a lot of work, particularly with the holiday season approaching. On top of two choirs, I am looking to start working again (Find my resume on the links page). Which is exciting and also terrifying! But the busyness is not going to keep me from writing. So here’s what’s in the works for the coming season:
- Mama’s Girl
- Everyone who knows me well knows I’ve had a musical on the back burner for many years. I am (finally) planning to put pen to paper (text to computer screen?) and write the musical that has been playing in my head for about three years. I’m hopeful. But we will see how it goes.
- Choral Music
- Lately, I’ve spent most of my creative energy writing choir music. That won’t stop. However, I am looking into ways to record actual singers instead of the MIDI realizations that my notation software generates. That’s a slow process, but it is in the works.
- I am finally putting the steps into creating my own home studio for teaching piano and voice. Now I just have to find the students…
As you can see, things are moving forward for me. It’s amazing how often terror and excitement are intertwined. But more on that later.
So it’s March, which means we are well into 2018 now. Theoretically, I should be able to write the date without crossing out the year… Anyway, I have been a busy little creative bee ever since I put out my last blog post. Which is good!
So what have I been up to this month?
I wrote a new piece for unaccompanied SATB voices called Be Still. It is about hearing the voice of God in the silence. The text is my own, largely adapted from God’s speech to Moses in Exodus. (I watched the Prince of Egypt the week before….) I wrote this piece for my mother, who is unfailingly supportive.
I have also decided to (finally) enter the world of YouTube. It was time, after all. You can listen to Be Still and a few other pieces now! The current plan for the next few months is to update once a week. Right now, I’m using screen grabs, but one day, I will venture into more advanced movie making.
I finished another choir piece using Lewis Carroll’s wonderfully quirky poem, The Lobster-Quadrille. This is another unaccompanied piece and it is light-hearted and fun. The poem basically set itself to music. It will be coming to my YouTube channel soon.
All in all, it has been quite the productive month.
That’s all for now!
Happy February! I can’t believe it’s already the end of February. I mean, I know it’s a short month, but still!
I wanted to talk about writer’s block and how I (attempt) to get myself out of it. As you may know, I moved to Canada a year (!!) ago. And while I am waiting for all of my immigration paperwork to be sorted out, I am unable to work. Which is fine. I find ways to keep myself busy. I sing in two choirs in the area and I spend a lot of time with new friends and family. So it is kind of a blessing and a curse because it is up to me (and only me) to motivate myself into writing.
Sometimes the music flows like a river and I can get two or three pages of notes down in an hour or so. And that’s great! Other days the river runs dry as a bone and I hate everything I put on the page. And that’s okay too. It’s all part of the process. What I’m finding, however, is that it becomes so easy to tie in my self-worth as a composer to my weekly productivity. And that’s not good. That is a recipe for disaster.
So this month, I have been experimenting with new ways of starting my own creative flow. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- I have to be nice to myself. I need to cut myself some slack on days when I feel like a musical failure. Because I’m not. I have to constantly remind myself that I have a degree in music composition and I have a personality that makes it easy to connect with other musicians. And even though I’m still learning, I have a voice and talent to offer to the musical community around me.
- Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing my scenery. When I’m sitting in front of my piano and nothing is happening, I get up. I move. Sometimes it’s a walk to the closest shopping center. Sometimes, it’s as easy as moving to a different room in my house.
- I can edit other scores. It is no secret that my least favorite part of composing is page layouts and score editing. It is the bane of my existence. But it is a necessary evil. And few things bother me more than a poorly edited score. So when a new piece isn’t coming together the way I want it to, sometimes I will take a break and edit the layout of other pieces to get them ready for publication. This was a suggestion from my composition teacher at Campbell. And it does work for me. It’s a sort of productive procrastination.
- Always, always, always listen. I listen to music while I do almost everything. Cleaning my house, knitting, reading. I always have music going. And when I’m not listening (or sleeping) I work on choir music. As I said, I am a member of two choirs in Ottawa and I work on choral music particularly when I feel I can’t write.
I am not saying this is a foolproof method of curing writer’s block. But these are things I have found work for me (7/10 times).
In other news, my newest choral piece, A Lullaby, will be available for purchase soon!
I can’t believe it but here we are in 2018! I am excited to share with you what is going on in my life as a composer!
My choral piece O Come! debuted last month in spectacular fashion! The Bytown Voices did an amazing job! I am truly humbled that they were willing to and enthusiastic about singing my piece.
I am currently working on an SATB choral setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Bells. It’s coming along (mostly) swimmingly. I am also working on a SSA setting of a lullaby, text by myself.
I have also (roughly) recorded my piano solo Festival Dance, which you can watch on my Facebook page.
Well, that’s all for now!
So I have been living in Canada for about seven (seven?!) months. And in that time, I have not been allowed to work. Which has given me a lot of time to write. And I have completed three pieces: a piano solo and two choral pieces.
This is a fun, light-hearted piano solo in 7/8 time. I wrote it for my kid brother who loves weird time signatures. As its name implies, it is a fast dance with heavy chords in the left hand and light flourishes in the right. And it is so much fun to play!
Wade in the Water
I think I have already mentioned this piece several times. But it is a choral arrangement of the African spiritual for unaccompanied SATB and body percussion. I wanted to set the spiritual but because it is such a famous and oft-performed one, I needed something different. A schtick. And thus, the body percussion section was born. Because the choir needs their hands (and feet) to perform this piece, it is best performed memorized.
O Come! is a choral arrangement of five traditional Christmas hymns set to an original piano accompaniment. What a joy this was to write! The hymns used are as follows:
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Sing We Now of Christmas
- What Child is This
- Carol of the Bells
I have wanted to write this piece for many, many years because Christmas is such an important holiday in my family. And this came together quite nicely. The biggest (and most exciting) news from all of this is that the Bytown Voices, a community choir I joined in Ottawa, is going to read this piece in the upcoming season!
This amazing feeling is how I know I’m a composer. For information on purchasing these (or other) scores, please see the Scores page on this website!
That’s all for now!