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!
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.
Composers, painters, writers, poets, photographers, dancers, artists of all kinds have the occasional project they’re never quite satisfied with, that they continue–throughout their career–to fiddle with and change and rethink. My arrangement of the famous old hymn tune, Amazing Grace, is one of those for me.
Part of the problem, I think, is that this is a piece I also improvise on in live performance and no matter how hard you try, how good an ear you’ve got, how adept you are at using technology, it’s impossible to capture in music notation every tiny nuance of an improvised performance.
Nor is it possible to capture every detail of how you imagine the piece ought to be…could be…must be.
I’d had Amazing Grace on the two websites for self-published scores I use, SheetMusicPlus and SheetMusicDirect, but I grew dissatisfied with my arrangement and withdrew it, even after it had had sales.
I finally got what I think might be a better, more likely to be permanent, arrangement of Amazing Grace, and it’s now up and available on YouTube (https://youtu.be/r2ojjBLohk0) and on the two sheet-music sites at: