New Year’s Reflections

I decided not to write New Year’s resolutions for 2011, and I was quite satisfied with my decision. This year I decided to do the same.

The reason for my counter-cultural decision was not because I am against writing goals, nor was it because I had lost faith in New Year’s–“newness”–or whatever magical, invincible-human superpower some people seem to profess that it brings, resulting in overly-ambitious goals abandoned by Valentine’s Day. It was because I decided that regardless what goes on my life, everything seems to revolve around academics. To some, that might be depressing, but I actually don’t see it that way. Each new school year presents new opportunities to network with people and develop my skills with the support and collaboration of those around me, especially via teachers and peers. I am surrounded by many ambitious people who are willing to take up new projects (such as the New Music Ensemble at U of R this year), which makes it more likely that my goals will be carried out in the first place. Therefore, I decided that starting in 2011, I would write my “New Year’s” goals at the beginning of the school year. Writing goals then would mean that I could have greater opportunity to modify my schedule to accommodate such ambitions as well as form proactive habits early on.

In late August, I wrote out several goals for various of my life including compositional goals. These goals included getting my music played outside of U of R, being more intentional about the ways in which I use harmonic material, and strengthening the development of my work. I’ve made the most strides with my harmonic development, which has also reinforced and strengthened my melodic material. This is mainly because I’ve decided to start my last few pieces (Microwave Sonata, El príncipe sombrío, The Forty Year Wandering) by writing scales/modes for them beforehand and building off of those. I’ve entered many contests/calls for scores in attempts to broaden my performance history, but I haven’t gotten around to the nitty-gritty aspect of getting people to perform my work. I would like to write in collaboration with groups outside of school (such as school orchestras), but with my schedule this year, that may have to be on hold for a while so I can make proper accommodations for it–I wouldn’t want to half-do a collaboration, making it a short-lived means to an end with nothing much learned and few relationships nurtured in the process. In the meantime, I will continue to utilize my notebook full of contest opportunities, complete with tabbed dividers and an index, in order to stay on top of such things, and if I don’t exactly meet that goal by the fall, at least I will have made strides to attempt to strengthen my resume. (It took me forever to build over the summer, but it is AMAZING and saves me the stress of missing or panicking over deadlines. Now, I simply update info with a pencil and add new opportunities as I see them throughout the year. Simply bookmarking things does not do the trick people.)  As far as the development of my pieces goes, I still have a long way to go, and I’m not even 100% sure what that progress looks like, now that I think about it. I’ve simply been more intentional about the content I put into a piece, and making sure that I can explain how each moment coherently fits in with one before it, but right now, that goal seems like the all-too-familiar vague New Year’s goals such as “Read more,” “Practice more,” “Get more sleep”…you get the picture. I guess it’s better than no goal at all–perhaps I need to study development and coherence as part of my score study strategies. Luckily, I still have well over a half a year to fix it, unlike most Americans!

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