It’s taken me 78 ½ years to figure this out, but I’ve finally discovered and now totally believe in my priority when it comes to music. It’s clarified my time management and also helped me to recognize what’s of lesser importance, what’s essential, relative importance.
That’s it, completely! The “main thing” is getting my sheet music out there! That’s the “main thing” as in the slogan: “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!”
It’s worth remembering that in the English language, “Priority” cannot be plural. There can be only one priority. It’s become common in informal language to speak of “priorities” but that’s not the original meaning. Realizing Priority is singular really sharpens the mind (as in when lost in a jungle Getting the Hell Out of There is the priority…nothing else matters).
Everything else in the graphic at the top of this post is in support of getting sheet music available, all supporting tasks/products having their own order of importance.
It used to be that I would get lost in all those possible products thinking maybe the videos where what I should be doing, or maybe the audio, or maybe orchestral pieces. Nope, committing to this priority is making a difference in my compositional life.
It should be noted that this is my compositional priority. Others will have their own. This priority is important to me, possibly for reasons I don’t even understand. So it will be for the priority others will have. I’m only sharing how having a priority for my music and committing to it has improved my music making.
And yes, that key word “committing” probably deserves another post someday. It’s not always easy to “commit.” As first articulated in the book, Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts (1991) by Peter McWilliams, you can do anything you want, just not everything you want.
I don’t have videos of me playing a lot of these solo piano arrangements. I recorded them before I got into the practice of making videos. When there’s no video, I’m using a score synchronized with my audio recording.
There’s a book a friend of mine, Robert Help, read when he was about my age, called The Summing Up, by Somerset Maugham. I’ve not yet read it (it’s on my list with several thousand others), but just the title strikes a responsive chord with me. It’s what I seem to be doing right now: summing up all I’ve written and recorded (audio and/or video), and where the scores and recordings might be found, listed all in into one spot: https://hiltonkeanjones.com/compositions/.
It’s a monumental effort. In addition to what’s already on that page, I have 46 more original compositions to get on there and 34 arrangements of public domain tunes. That’s not counting all the links that need to be added to existing listings on the page and any new pieces I might manage to write and record.
As a former composition student, now himself a teacher and a friend, once answered when I asked myself why I continued to write: “Because that’s what you do.” It’s probably the best answer I’ve ever heard. (I assume that answer also applies to organizing what one has written.) Although, I am well aware and fully admit “vanity of vanities! All things are vanity” is even more true.
The most recent addition to the composition page is an updated version of The World of Starlit Butterflies.
The piano part is completely rewritten so it’s shorter and hopefully more interesting but still fun to play and listen to. The 2 keyboard version and the solo piano version have exactly the same piano part. In other words, the strings are optional. Using the second keyboard gives pianists the chance to experience ensemble playing, a skill they’ll need in order to earn a living later in life. The fundamental piece is the solo piano version, the video that leads this article.
I seem to have found “my place,” writing pieces and arrangements for piano that fit the “easy intermediate” difficulty level. I’m quite happy to have found “my place.” It’s my happy place! Those pieces are selling!
In my job as music director at Lakewood UCC (my favorite church job of all time, without exaggeration!) the piano pieces I’ll be doing Sunday, Mother’s Day, were all favorites of my mom’s. Here’s the list, with YouTube links. Only the first link is me; the rest are my favorite YouTube versions of the pieces.
“Contemporary Christian” fare is solo performance, non-participatory oriented, not condusive to participatory congregational singing. That makes solo performance material well suited to social media and music streaming which it dominates. Sadly, the theology associated with “Contemporary Christian” texts and, in fact, the very soloistic performance itself, are anathema to more progressive theology.
Congregational singing is a natural part of traditional corporate worship. But, traditional corporate worship these days is dominated by the mega church, MAGA crowd. Other denominations, that are progressive based, such as the one for which I work, United Church of Christ, are shrinking fast.
I’ve written a lot of religious music. It’s not hyperbole to say I’m constantly flirting with destroying every copy and recording of every such piece I’ve ever written because Christianity has become Christian Nationalism. I wish I knew if there was a place for me, as a creative professional, in the progressive spirituality in which I believe.
HERE is a taste of some my own religious music. My website is hiltonkeanjones.com and there are links to much more there.
I wonder if there is a place for classically trained composers, performers, and lyricists of a progressive theological bent in Christianity.
Well…after selling my old Steinway baby grand a few years ago when I sold my condo and moved to renting, and after a few years of that and finally buying at house (!), I bought another acoustic piano again! I love it.
A good friend, herself an organist/pianist, asked if I’d given it a name yet. I never thought of that. So, I let names percolate in my head and the one that comes to mind that seems to have stuck is “Claude.” Claude came with a personality too. Difficult to describe, but he’ll be good for me.
In honor of Claude, here’s a little video of an old organ piece of mine from a set of organ pieces called 3 Songs for 4 Composers.
It comes to mind that my Claude is a southern boy, so like all southern boys he needs a middle name and his shall be “Maurice.” And, in true southern boy tradition in polite society it’s proper to refer to him as Claude Maurice.
My sister, Lucy, is a Ph. D. in Psychology (résumé) and author. In addition to an earlier on-going online course she offers for personal enrichment, “Growing Older with Gusto!” she’s offering a new on-going online course in which she combines her talents as an author with her psychological insights, “Feral Fables.”
You can learn more about that course and others at Learn with Lucy. Here’s a quote from that page about the new course:
In addition to more info on all the courses she offers, that page, Learn with Lucy, has a link you can follow to register for that course and the others.
I encourage you to give Learn with Lucy a try. Having read her books and knowing as her little brother, I think you’ll learn a lot, and enjoy doing so.