Posts Tagged ‘David Heyes’

100 Days Day Number … aw forget it

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

I’ll start this post by saying that I don’t want to say this is a post about failure. But it is about realizing that something isn’t working, and that I’m stopping that something, and I’m going to muse a little bit about why it isn’t working and I’m stopping.

Back on November 25 I started this 100 Days project. In short, the idea was to practice every day for 100 days uninterrupted, working backwards through a piece (new to me), one measure at a time. I modeled this idea on others I had heard of where people practice a dance move every day for 100 days, posting as they went along. It sounds entertaining and interesting to me. I hoped to be inspired myself by making this continual progress.

But Life intervened, throwing me off-schedule when I wasn’t even 10 days in on the effort. I thought that would be okay, that I would just soldier on. But then I missed some more days, and then a whole bunch of days—and it really felt to me like I had lost the thread of it. I was forcing my practice, rushing to “do my measure” even on days and at times when I was frankly too tired or distracted to do it properly.

There was another element as well. I posted several blog entries about this effort, and publicized those posts (via a WordPress plug-in) on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. And I have a very small number of people who are subscribed to receive an email when I make a post. And I heard not a peep from one other person in the world about my trying out this project—with the exception of a kind of solicited reaction from David Heyes, since I made a post on his Facebook wall about his 100 day project. Looking at the statistics on SoundCloud, it appears that I was the only person listening to the recordings I posted there.

I was feeling deflated that no one thought enough of the idea to send me a comment or check out what I had done.

And then from the library I checked out the book “An Audience of One—Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake” by Srinivas Rao with Robin Dellabough. Just reading the Introduction, I was struck by how clearly Rao described the situation I have found myself in: playing to an imagined crowd, expecting fame and accolades and receiving none. Rao writes:

In the pursuit of success, the value of creativity for its own sake has diminished, if not disappeared entirely. … We’ve placed celebrities on pedestals and turned their achievements and lifestyles into our new definition of success. The result is a profound sense of dissatisfaction with our creativity. Purity is lost in our work when everything we do is for some external outcome, when every creative pursuit unnecessarily turns professional. (Audience of One, page 6)

That described my actions pretty accurately: choosing what I would do based on an expected or hoped-for popularity, more out of a desire for notoriety and less based on my own desire and curiosity.

So I have decided to suspend the public-facing part of the 100 Days quest—nobody was following it anyway—and focus on practicing for my own betterment and following my own interests.

I think this approach is going to guide what I do in resurrecting the Chicago Bass Ensemble as well. Long moribund after my two favorite colleagues chose to stop working with me (did I take it personally? Yes, I did. Was I right to take it personally? Probably not; I don’t know if their decisions were because of me or not), I have said for many years now that “this is the year” that I get in gear and make something happen with the group. But there too I may have been thinking of “fame” or “success” in external terms, and allowing that to distort my perspective on what I should be doing.

So, just in time for the new year, a new leaf in my playing. Wish me luck. I’ll continue to write here occasionally, but I won’t allow external measures (comments, re-posts, inquiries, tweets) to dictate how I feel about what I’ve done or to influence what I choose to do. Of course, if you’ve got a spot or event where you’d like a small group of large instruments to perform, do reach out to me!!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Jacque

Reading Session 2016-01-15

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

It was a cold night, but we had a rewarding reading session on Friday, January 15.

People:

  • Marc Temkin
  • Bjorn Villesvik
  • Phillip Serna
  • Jacque Harper

This was great for me. Phillip and I have crossed paths a number of times over the years. At separate times, we were both students of Stephen Tramontozzi at the San Francisco Conservatory. But to my recollection, we had not played together. So it was good to do that. Marc is someone I met briefly many years ago at one of our early performances, but hadn’t seen since. He encouraged Bjorn to join us, and I’m glad he did. I’m always happy to expand my circle of colleagues.

Repertoire

  • Tomas Luis de Victoria, arr. Cameron – Three Spanish Motets
  • Tony Osborne – Sonnet for a Summer’s Day
  • Ernst Mahle – Quartet
  • Marc Temkin – work in progress
  • Serge Prokofiev, arr Serna – March from The Love of Three Oranges
  • Joseph Lauber – Quartet
  • Hindemith, arr Harper – Six Chansons
  • Wasserman – Pieces for Basses

The ensemble has read or performed all of these–except for Marc’s sketch, Tony Osborne’s ‘sonnet’ and the Wasserman piece–in the past, so I don’t have a lot of new comments on them. As always, it was energizing to be able to make music together.

I look forward to the opportunity to perform Sonnet for a Summer’s Day, in the hopes that I can encourage my wife to sing the soprano part. Rob Wasserman’s piece I’ve attempted to get through several times, but it seems to require more preparation than a pick-up reading session. I’m also not fond of the gimmick of the first movement being for a solo player, the second a duet, the third a trio etc. If I’ve gone to the trouble of finding five players, I want to make use of them. Marc’s work, completely and somewhat abashedly incomplete, shows promise. Always happy to read through something to give a composer a chance to hear ideas.

My only regret for the evening was that I failed to print out the parts for David Heyes’ work The Last Poppy. I really meant to. My apologies, David! Next time for sure.