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Two out of three

Time-management here is fixed. There are exactly three things I can be doing in any given period:

1) Compose
2) Maintain my publishing/composer “business”
3) Be with my family

#1 is a bit more than just the actual time it takes to write; it’s inclusive of the months of research and Thinking About a Piece that happens before any actual notes are written. And when it gets into full swing, the mono-tasking is so severe, I can barely be coherent on the phone. So I usually don’t answer it.

#2 has the snarky quotes because, well, it is just me here–it’s not like I’ve got an administrative staff, or a bank account or anything (I use a shoebox). But the modern composer (and probably less-modern one, for that matter) must book gigs rehearsing the music and teaching, and the self-publisher must run his/her own rental library and/or storefront (fulfilling rental orders, shipping scores, sending invoices, filling out W9s till the cows come home), as well as a maintain a promotion department (sending mailings, writing newsletters, printing perusal scores, and saliently, updating these notebook pages).

#3 is a catch-all for the juggling act that is the Modern Marriage slash Parenting of a Three-point-five-year-old. It’s made up of preschool pickups, soccer practices, chicken finger suppers, and the precious solo time with Better Half that comes sometime in between bath/bedtime and the moment we collapse from exhaustion.

The thing is, I am only able to accomplish two out any of these three things in any given time period. And since #3 is, of course, non-negotiable, that means that #s 1 and 2 simply can’t happen at the same time. Like a physical law preventing two objects from occupying the same space at the same time, if I’m writing this week, I simply cannot fulfill a rental order. Or return an e-mail. Or send a score to someone who is considering performing a piece. Because the brainspace that is left over after #1 takes its rightful share goes directly to #3. And thanks to the algebraic Property of Equality the reverse is true; if I’m frantically filling the (now overdue) rental orders and returning weeks-old phone calls, there’s no way any writing is getting done. Because Team Newman is going to The Dinosaur Museum together (see #3), and there’s No Freaking Way I’m missing that.

With that in mind, the OK Feel Good Music Promo Department has been non-functional this Fall, and a quick-and-dirty roundup is in order. Since the last notebook posting the following excitements (in the first and second categories) have happened: IU-Purdue’s Chad Nicholson interviewed me for his fun “Wind Bands of Every Flavor” podcast, I finished a new work which premiered with hooplah last week at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, and I traveled to residencies at Texas State University (Rod Schueller, Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City), University of Oklahoma (Bill Wakefield, Across the groaning continent), and Florida State University (Richard Clary, De Profundis). Tree was performed in Chicago, The Rivers of Bowery in Boston, and Sowing Useful Truths in Miami. I’ve also started work on a piece for women’s chorus and chamber orchestra, for a premiere in late March in Kawasaki City, Japan.

With respect to Category The Third, we are now marginally closer to deciding in what order to rank elementary school choices for the Board of Ed’s District 1 Lottery (alternately titled “Shoot me now”). Also, I discovered my Inner Soccer Dad.

I can also now highly recommend the new David Mitchell and Jonathan Franzen novels. I’m thinking those significantly ate into #1.

No one particularly cares about how I manage my time, as long as whatever is needed from me gets to whoever needs it, before they get in trouble for not having it. But knowledge is power, and Knowing My Limits is the new Getting Things Done.

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One Comment

  1. Liss

    We love you a lot though. At least I do; can’t really speak for the kid, but I’m guessing her too.

    Posted on 19-Nov-10 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

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