Friday, September 5, 2008

You know, the rain is gonna come...

Well it's been a busy week!

After a wonderfully relaxing vacation in Chicago/Northwest Indiana I'm back at work with two new classes.  My role this term is much more administrative (yuck) than pedagogical and I am dealing with that shift with varying degrees of success.

Going back to work, as with many musicians who teach, always brings my thoughts to priorities; where do I focus..on my art or on the teaching?  I read something that brings that question into very specific relief a few days ago.  Over at Bottomless Cup, D0nna Tr0y has written so eloquently about this dichotomy that I feel I can add nothing but kudos on articulating a very complex set of concerns.  I also must congratulate her on her very brave decision to focus on her art full time.  Read the entire piece here

I have just completed a few arrangements for various people and ensembles, but my own writing seems to always get pushed aside in favor of other projects.  If any writers out there have any wisdom to share on this point, I'd love to hear it.  I have a composition that has been sitting on my piano for several months now!  I hate to sound like I'm complaining because I am truly happy and grateful for the work, but it is a true dilemma of balance.

This past Wednesday I played a very "sustaining" gig.  I have a standing trio that I do occasional work with.  We have a "semi-steady" hit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk VA.  This past Wednesday was especially rewarding.  The communication and energy was great and I felt myself playing in a much less self-conscious way.  Self-consciousness is something I have been dealing with in my playing a lot lately.  It seems that the more I deal with vocabulary, the more aware I am of it NOT being present at certain critical times.  Of course, upon listening back, it is often more coherent than I think but the point is that I am not as in the moment as I'd like when I'm playing.  This past Wednesday was a breath of fresh air if for no other reason than I was able to play and detach from what I played in a very quiet and calm way.  It feels nice to get back to that again.

This next week I'm presenting a recital in honor of Trane's Birthday.  We'll be performing material from all three of the big periods and I'm looking forward to exploring this material in a much deeper way over the next few months.  The challenge for me in presenting something like this goes back to the idea of self-consciousness I wrote about a bit ago.  When I'm playing standards or tunes in general, I feel that I bring a good bit of who I am to them.  When ever I approach Trane's material, the history and archetype is SO strong in my mind's ear that I begin to think about how I SHOULD be playing over these tunes instead of what the music is doing now.  As Lovano says:  "The tune is playing you"!  As I work through this recital my goal is to present the music in a way that not only highlights Trane's music but also his aesthetic of individual expression through the music.

Finally, we're waiting for Hanna to pass over.  We're expecting a tropical storm by the time it gets here...nothing too serious, I hope.  I will say this, my friend Jackie is right!  Kenny Wheeler is wonderful music to listen to while watching rain!!


Doug87 said...

Hey Greg,

I can definitely relate to your issue concerning "other" projects taking priority over your own pursuits. With only two original compositions to my name, written over a twenty year career, I can now see that the key is "focus." While still in, I rarely had time to focus on my own work, instead writing "contract" arrangements each month for various ceremonial events. Fun, somewhat, but not as fulfilling as creating from mental and spiritual inspiration - as opposed to a lead sheet.

Now, for other reasons, I am attempting to learn another craft, but it is the same as music. My life, like yours I am sure, has many distractions, including requests by others to write or edit. I have found that by eliminating my perception of a timetable needed for completion and conversely creating a requirement for myself to work only when I can focus, as in totally focus - even if only for thirty minutes, my writing will produce better results than if I had maintained the 8 bars a day philosophy.

Food for thought. Have fun with the administrative tasks; even those will indirectly benefit the student. They will learn how to lead better now, since they have a great role model in place.

Gregory Dudzienski said...

Hi Doug,
Thanks so much for the kind words and your thoughts. I have tried, over the last few days, your idea of "focus-driven" vice "timetable-driven" in both my writing and playing and I am encouraged by the results.

I'll keep you posted....