Funny thing is, being a composer is a lot like being a fisherman. Please bear with me as I explain. To be a fisherman, one needs to enjoy the sport of fishing dearly in and of itself and without condition because there's not one darn thing you can humanly do to force a fish to wiggle closer to the line that you're dangling in the water. Ultimately, it is patience that defines the sport of fishing. You sit in a boat on the lake because you enjoy the relaxation in the sport, not just the results. Sure, you can invest in the latest fishing lures at the bait shop, or you can hire a local fishing guide to point you in the direction of his lucky spot. But no one will offer you the guarantee of a nibble. And as a fisherman, it does no good for you to become impatient if you don't get a nibble from a whole day's worth of effort. And for goodness’ sake, coveting the catch of a fellow fisherman in another boat on the lake causes nothing but frustration and might even discourage an outing the next day.
So, the way I look at it, being a fisherman is a lot like being a composer. To be a composer, one needs to enjoy the process of composing in and of itself and outright without condition because there's not one darn thing you can humanly do to force someone to like, much less buy, the fruits of your labor. Ultimately, it is patience that defines the art of composing. You sit quietly and compose because the process somehow soothes your soul regardless of the result. Sure, you can invest in the latest fancy equipment from the music shop, or you can hire a teacher to share their ideas and guidance. But no one will offer you the guarantee of success. And as a composer, it does no good for you to become impatient if no one listens to or likes your music – even for a lifetime of effort. And for goodness’ sake, coveting the popular music of the day that makes a fellow composer rich and famous will cause nothing but frustration and might even discourage your composing efforts the next day.
That said, here are a few composer insights that may be worth reflecting on occasionally:
- Do something every day to push forward. Do whatever it is…that special thing that you do…but do something about composing every day. Tend to your knitting. Be as vigilant about your composing as the fisherman is about preparing his rod and reel every day.
- Feel free to convince yourself that your peer generation doesn't understand a damn thing about what it is that you do or why you do it…and that your work is your own best kept, deeply intimate secret.
- Look at the big picture. Try to look past the here and now and consider that you may be composing a legacy gift to future generations. Realize that your music will live on long after you've started decomposing. And that it may certainly be a few generations before there's any real clarity in the discovery of your compositions.
- Believe that there will be a future generation music student or scholar who will unlock and reveal your compositional secrets to the world...and remember one fact...it is far better to have your work discovered by someone else than to have you out there as the mouthpiece trying to shill its value. No one really wants to hear your story from you. Success is most often found as a measure of others telling your story.
- And, finally, strangely enough, it is more highly respected in the music composition business for you to die an unrecognized, unrewarded, penniless composer rather than to reap big rewards while you’re living! If you’re truly committed to composing, try letting go of the here and now…and perhaps this thought will free you to be an even better composer. Try being the patient, vigilant fisherman looking at the end of the fishing rod during the time of no nibbles. The funny thing is, if you do get a bite, you will instinctively know what to do! But in the meantime, diligently compose every day…as if future generations are depending upon you to do so.