Refocus

imageMy big band chart It Keeps Happening is being performed by the Heart House Jazz Orchestra. Here are some thoughts on this first for me: having a piece I’ve written performed without myself being one of the performers.

Firsts are interesting experiences because they give you a vantage you couldn’t have known. Think of the accomplishment as the top of a hill, the goal is in sight the whole climb, but the view from the top can only be imagined. The ‘hill as challenge’ is a pretty well tread metaphor but it’s doing work for me. The view from the top gives a new perspective on not only where you’ve been headed next but where you’ve already been.

Here’s something I didn’t see coming: getting a piece performed means relinquishing the illusion of control over its performance. As a member of an ensemble playing my music I never actually had control over the performance of my piece, but it took giving up any performing stake at all to realize that. I thought that as a composer, and thus the sole author of the work, I would have the fullest ability to dictate the performance. With my new vantage point I appreciate something that I couldn’t have before I had such a total understanding of my piece. I appreciate now how small a portion of the performance the composition really is.

I’m learning to appreciate the role of the performers and band directors more than I previously have. I’ve spent a great many of years trying to become a composer, and now that in a small moment I’m a composer and not a performer I understand how little I contribute. Now that I’ve gained some insight, I’m finding some peace and trust. I’m pretty sure that this is a good thing.

I’m thrilled to have the Hart House Jazz Ensemble perform my piece It Keeps Happening, and I’m looking forward to hearing my take on this fantastic ensemble. I’m looking forward to moving toward the next experience that will help bring what little I’ve learned with this experience into still better focus.

P.S. Special thanks to Brook Jensen for helping me think this through.