The Innovative

I awoke this morning feeling in a state of anguish. Or perhaps a better term would be frustrated. In any case, I was late to my 8AM class and was surely missing something important. Sure enough, I walked in conveniently just after a quiz and a lengthy explanation of the week’s project and I was left to figure things out on my own (unsuccessfully). A friend asked where I was headed afterward. “I don’t know. Home I guess. Get ready for the day.”

I didn’t intend to get ready for the day. I just assumed some more sleep would console my lack of enthusiasm for my unexciting life. So I lay on my bed to rest, determining that the list of items on my to-do list would get done eventually, but I was too uncomfortable to get started on them.

I recently had a conversation with a good friend with whom I’ve been long out of touch. This dialogue led me to ponder on my attitude toward where I am now. I miss that free, adventurous life. Sure, life as a engineering student can be adventurous in some ways, but this creativity is bounded given a great many initial conditions. Abstraction is replaced with optimization. Clarity is replaced with precision. I don’t walk around humming new melodies in search of the most vibrant and sweet anymore. I don’t play them on my piano, reviving myself with their emotional sounds. That to me is a problem; that mode of mind is no longer my primary function. What is a free mind free to think if it does not conjure something stupendous in its daily activity? I’ve sat here, wondering how I could fill these pages with words, but no words flowed, because ideas were not constantly spewing from my mind.

My old place of safety was the HFAC, though in recent years through my lack of new connections in the School of Music, I have hardly run into any familiar faces in the times during which I entered. But today I walked in with no plan in mind, just to try to gain back an inkling of… faith, perhaps.

I want to say that something remarkable happened. Because it did. For the following six hours, I remained at the slab and was granted the continuous presence of my marvelous music major friends, one by one. Before one left, another would take their place. Even until the very end of the day, I was in the constant presence of friends, old and new. But I learned something from my conversations with each one of those people. I felt something exciting that I missed deeply – the opportunity for expression, not mere subjectivity, but that which isn’t tainted by the opinions of the masses. We are not laymen, lowly citizens whose voices are desperate to be heard. We do not even care for such an aspect, because we are already aware of the talents which we hold, and those are what we live and breathe. They are a way of life, a culture. The creativity of the mind which can bend the ordinary into the extraordinary is a magnificent feature of life.

During my stay at the slab, I watched a video on YouTube, randomly, concerning numbers in series. I’m not sure why, but the video was found in my recommendations, so I decided to view it. One of the topics which was explained in depth was an explanation of the series summation of all the natural numbers, that is, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + … + infinity. This series sums to -1/12. Yeah, a negative number. Every positive integer added from 1 to infinity is equal to this number. It was bizarre to learn at first, even with the assurance that many applications of this identity appear in the real world, for example in quantum physics and string theory. It was explained that I had learned correctly in elementary calculus that this series diverges (though even that isn’t always intuitive). However, it simply diverges due to our standardized definition of convergence. We could ingrain this principle and forget that math is a language that continues to add theorems and definitions, to build upon itself. We could forget that every series that we have discarded as divergent could belong to a family of differing kinds of non-traditional convergences. With other summation techniques which allow for more and more series which were thought before to be divergent to now have finite values, we can then apply these definitions in our favor. It isn’t cheating, it is simply real life. And I think that is the way that the creative mind must also work. I love mathematics, and though we may only take the parts which we need to punch the numbers of our tools and machines, it has within it a deep and spacious reservoir of understanding, one that can teach us about the concept of infinity and how truth, elegance, and beauty are not only extremely relevant to one another but also oftentimes seem to be the exact opposite of what they are.

Maybe sometime I will see the connection between the innovation of the artist with the engineer. Those Renaissance men seemed to have it down, but it seems there needs to be more than elementary knowledge to produce the works and notebooks of Leonardo and Petrarch. The creative world seems to be my calling, but I think I must be patient for this role to become fulfilled in my career. Today was a breath of divine air, and a good reminder to me that I still have something there. My world is not gone, and though it has lain dormant for a long while, I know that I am being looked out for. And there is definitely a need for one to go back and ensure that the good of the past is not forgotten, nor buried.

As my Sister Returns from the Mission Field

My sister comes home from her mission tomorrow from Sydney, Australia. I haven’t seen her since I left for mine on July 5, 2012. We’ve exchanged many emails, several photos, and seven short phone calls. One of those calls was the day she had flown into the Sydney airport, where she ran into my mission president and his wife, and they connected her to me. I could not have been more excited for her; twenty-one months into my mission, I wish I could tell her what lay ahead in her future. At the same time, I tried not to be aware of what was in mine.

The day I flew home from my mission, I prayed that I would never ever forget those marvelous experiences that I had as a missionary. I could never forget the amazing people that I had grown to love. I couldn’t forget anything. How could such a time and place have completely changed who I was? These were just everyday people, living their lives; how could something so simple as a setting apart uttered with hands laid upon my head have put me on the path to desiring nothing but their happiness? I had never felt so torn apart as I realized that in no time at all, I would be released from once having been set apart to represent the Lord Jesus Christ.

As much as I feel I have done countless wonderful things since coming home – and many things have happened – God continues to grant me that final wish, that I not forget who I truly am – a Sydney RM, a revelatory missionary forever. One who knows the words revealed to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail as D&C 121. I can’t say I’ve been more faithful than previously, in fact if anything I have gone through much toil and confusion and to be honest the longing for that other world could not have tormented me more than it had at those times. But I’m grateful to, despite my difficulty in learning and adjusting, have gone through what I have. These are never the trials that I would have wanted! But what had I expected? Trials wouldn’t be trials if they were easy. And yet they are so minute in the scheme of things.

I hope the people of Australia who knew that I once knew them could know that I still remember them clear as day. I’m so grateful for the increased memory I was given for that time and for that specific purpose. You’re still in my heart. I remember that I taught you; that I befriended you on the street though you continually denied interest in lessons; I remember that I stood there with you into the waters of baptism as you accepted the greatest joy you could then receive. Some of you have disappeared and returned to your home country, some of you have found yourselves lost and once again in search of truth, and some remain, continuing your progress toward eternity. I wish that I could still reach you, though no longer missionary, still a friend. Still someone who cares deeply about you, to see you thriving in something so powerful as the Atonement of Christ. But even if you can never hear my voice again, I know our Father in heaven continually hears my prayers for you, and is watching over you in every step you take. I wish you could know that He can never truly forsake you – for the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but “my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.”

When Sister Howes sent me this recording shortly after I performed the song in Hyde Park YSA Ward Easter fireside, she mentioned that she didn’t know if I would share it or even if I would want to listen to it, but it was moving to her. I gave it a listen and immediately found my intonation, among other things, revolting. And truthfully I still do. But as I lose contact with more people that I knew as a missionary, my memories are slowly failing me with time. This song is a small piece of the love that I knew and felt in those last months in Australia and further evidence of the truth. Can I forget something so beautiful? Never. The gospel is true, regardless of what we do. I will never forget it.

Truth Will Set You Free

And just like that, my two years are up.

Allow me a moment to think that to myself one more time. Two years; every moment spent in dedication to the service of God. I cannot even begin to touch on the immensity of what has happened to me and to those with whom I was able to interact. I have simply been so incredibly blessed by this experience. I could not have known how it would have changed me. I know every returned missionary has experienced this, but still nothing could have prepared me for that startling morning when I awoke the day after I had arrived home. And there they were, free for me to use. A smartphone, the Internet at my grasp, music and film, casual outfits, and all the time of the world without constraint. Oh how much I could not stand the thought that these things were once again mine to have.

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”

It amazes me how much I did not understand this scripture before. And how little of it I still comprehend. The Lord truly spoke these words to the prophet Joseph Smith as he and his friends suffered for nine months in Liberty Jail. The prophet went on to write, “It seems to me my heart will always be more tender after this than ever it was before.” Periods of challenges faced my companions and me but were always accompanied with stronger love, greater wisdom, and a closeness to God that I cherished. A greater closeness to God allows us to gain better relationships with others, as our hearts become as His is.

God really does have a way of teaching us by giving us the experience we need. Some doctrines must be put to action before they are known. He just knows us. But He extends His trust towards us as we perform our little acts of faith. I have learned for myself that we have the power to change our given situations once we can change our eyes. I have learned that we are so mightily blessed each and every day with the tender mercies of the Lord. How can we find these things, if at not first with the change in the way we see? And perhaps even more important, how can we truly be happy, if we do not first experience a change of heart?

I reckon that our hearts are somewhere there along the spectrum. The Lord requires it all. And we find so many treasures when our hearts are set upon the things of eternal nature. Let this be woven into your chosen shade of life. I reckon that a greater study of the Savior can help us each in our endeavor to use His Atonement to bring about that change. Frequent prayer and scripture study. Once we find the treasure within these little acts of faith, life cannot be lived without them. There is still so, so much that can be learned from consistent study of the word of God.

My friends, I know that this gospel is true. I have witnessed too much of this reality to question it. God truly does live. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that all men are free to believe what they may, but I cannot promise you any greater joy than that which I have felt, that you can receive for yourself. If you have any questions at all, I invite you to ask them. There are missionaries in every corner of the world, and I invite you to meet with them, yes, any and all of you. They will bring with them a spirit and a message that will bring you what you seek.

How Do You Evaluate A Year?

Okay, there are still finals left for this semester – the majority for which I am terrified – but I’m afraid that there won’t be much time to write anything afterward and I feel like I should reflect on the changes I’ve made over my first year in college. It will all be a rush: after finals, I need to hurry up and move out, rehearse with the Wind Symphony for a few days, ship off to tour Europe for three weeks, fly back here to get my wisdom teeth yanked, return home for a month, then say goodbye so I can fly back to the MTC in Provo by July 5. After that the remainder of two years I will be serving my mission in Australia, and for that period of time it is unlikely that this blog will even be updated. But enough about my immediate future.

I remember when I first posted about arriving here in Utah. It was kind of like it is now – excitement, anxiety for the future. The complications of moving around so much! Here I was, not knowing anybody, expecting to eventually be able to become familiar with the place and lots of people. Then there was band camp. What a hot, dry, exhausting week. I made really good friends in band, especially with the members of my section, my skin became black and I drank more water than I ever could have imagined. This is some strange new climate I’ve (almost) gotten accustomed to! But truly marching band was one of the keys to my existence last semester. It was the reason my roommates hardly ever saw me; the football games, rehearsals, socials, and variety show were kind of the highlights of the semester.

Oh the roommates. What can I say? That indeed first impressions are often wrong. They know I thought I lived with weirdos when I first moved in. How judgmental could I be? I couldn’t have picked a better bunch to room with, not on the entire campus. They’ve become my best friends here and I love just sitting around talking with them about anything, even the dumbest things. I’ve probably lost a few IQ points in the process. We lived in Snow Hall last semester until it got torn down. God bless. But then we were rewarded with Building 26 of the luxurious new apartments in New Heritage. It’s practically so easy to live here that time’s really flown by so quickly.

I’ve gone off on composing adventures. Late nights – that’s when the ideas came to me. Pulled way too many all-nighters in relation to this. Even though my output was small, I’ve gained a lot of experience and insight in my own writing. I probably learned a lot more in Music Theory and Ear Training than I think I have, because at least something’s changed. And my struggle with new music continues until today. Even if I was aware of the strange things in modern music when I was in high school, I still wasn’t prepared for the ways it would hit me in college. Especially when taking Music Composition and being assigned to write in new styles that I would never attempt on my own. These things brought many, many questions into my head about the entire purpose of music. But I have enjoyed the new music concerts. I was lucky (and wise) enough to attend as many as I could and broaden my musical tastes. I was lucky to attend any concert actually. I’ve loved stalking BYU Arts for events that I could go to and see all the concerts, recitals, and shows. It’s one of those gems of living so near the HFAC.

It’s in the HFAC that I built the majority of my web of relationships. People see me there all the time; it is my second home. You do meet the most amazing people there. I’ve seen talent that has driven me to a point of jealousy that had become rage. I’ve met other people with startlingly similar interests as me. And for some of the friends I’ve made there, quickly or slowly, I hold so much love and respect. I still don’t understand how they can be both so talented and have such strong testimonies at the same time… it’s like they’re so perfect. Of course this is impressive when it comes to science and engineering, but good musicianship speaks to me on a personal level.

Other random memories. Getting mission papers done in secret. Clarinet fest (unsuccessful all-nighters). Bishop setting us up on dates. Being the toe for the independence half-time show. Hearing that great rendition of ‘Colors of the Wind’ for the first time. Variety shows. Mission calls. Music civ exams. Seeing my siblings (rarely) and getting Yogurtland. Juries. Frosted rocks. The sloth video. Hiking the Y at night. Home teaching woes, and triumphs. Quoting Mulan. Belting H2$ at 2AM. Por que no funciona la red? From Cumorah’s Hill rehearsals. Baconators. The power of tunnel singing. Seeing old friends on campus. Standing in the Drive-thru at Wendy’s. Music (and instruments) falling apart onstage. Joseph Alessi, Catharine Hartig, and Bill Smith. VanDoren, Mitchell Lurie, and Rico! Terrible Chinese food. American Heritage lectures. Stop it! My roommates’ laughs. Last-minute hires. And basically going to every concert possible.

So, looking back. I know I skipped a ton, but you can’t keep track of everything. If one thing has changed about me, what would that be? I feel that college that been a truly humbling experience for me, to learn about myself, to learn about God. I’ve learned a ton in such a short amount of time, and I expect to learn much more in the coming years. But using this experience as a way to wipe my slate clean and adapt to a new environment has allowed me to change my attitude toward life. I’ve been given the chance to make myself whatever I wanted to be out here, and I’ve chosen to be happy with the conditions I chose. This has been a wonderful year, and I’m going to miss anyone that I don’t see for a while. It’s almost time to say goodbye; I’ve said a few already. This is one amazing school and I couldn’t be more grateful for the gifts and opportunities I’ve gotten because of it.

Let us all press on!

An Episode of Forgiveness

I’m not usually a negative person. In fact, ever since I’ve been to school here I’ve kept up my optimism to a point where I haven’t had to experience a true sadness that would cause me to bend my attitude. I found that being positive in any given situation has given me exactly what you would expect: a constant stream of joy. Then finally beginning a week ago, a memory from my past grew within my mind. Something I had done to someone else. It was a cause of guilt, something I felt that I could not go back and fix. With each passing day, the memory grew stronger, almost as strong as it had when I was going through the experience itself. It was weakening to me and caused me great sorrow, and for the first time in many months, I let doubt fill my soul.

As it was tonight after ward prayer, I had been scheduled for a bishop’s interview for the upcoming Wind Symphony tour. As the time was arriving for me to go in, I was shaking all over. The bishop greeted me with his ever-smiling face and kind heart as I brought him my form. “This is it?” he laughed. And then with great difficulty, I decided to relay to him my situation. Had I repented? This was the issue on my mind. After several questions, he told me to forget about it. “I don’t want you think about this anymore. Remember what the Lord spoke? ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’ You are forgiven. You must forgive yourself.”

I was not overcome with any feelings of comfort. When I thanked the bishop and went to my room, I poured out my distress onto my bed. How could this happen? The words of the bishop could not seep through my doubt as I was sure that my situation was not helped. I played through Grieg’s elegiac melodies and some of my own. Then I thought of what just might help. Tunnel singing was beginning at that moment, and I knew I should go.

The torrents of wind blew like never before this chilly evening, and as I arrived toward the mass of students, the a cappella hymns had already begun. I had come alone, and as I drew near the crowd full of its circles of friends, I was too far at the end to recognize any faces that I knew. While joining in the melody, I stood by the side wondering what perhaps I should do. Then the circle nearest me opened up and indirectly invited me in. I stepped in, not knowing who these people were or what they thought of me. But I remained, though with my uncertainty, because I knew that I needed to be a part of this. The next hour came and I still sang but spoke to none of them. Then it was time for the traditional “I Need Thee Every Hour”. The circle in which I had placed myself put their arms around me and we sang together. And for all the hymns we had been singing, I felt peace. I felt the love of my Savior, and it was the same love I felt every time I let my fears go and worshiped the Lord in song. I felt the love of the people around me, whose names I did not know. And I felt, just maybe to try, that I could forgive myself and move on in life.

Tunnel singing ended and I walked on myself toward my apartment. One of the girls who had been standing opposite of me in the circle rushed up to me and introduced herself. Soon her friends did the same, and I felt all shame of doubt disappear as we connected. They invited me to sing with them every week if I so chose. Though I was sure I would come with others next time, I thanked them for that. I was grateful to experience the kindness of others. Though one may have expected it, not all people are so charitable. And it’s not every day that you get to meet such people.

I am so thankful for what the Lord has given me. I am grateful to be in an environment that cultivates love and encourages acts of charity. And mostly I am blessed to be able to move on in my life and bring myself to what I need to be. I hope someday you too will find that even the deepest holes in which you find yourself in life, there is a way out, but only if you are willing to let it go.

My 2012 Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! Jonathan, Jessica, and I flew into Salt Lake City together for the first time on Saturday. I finally got to officially move into my new dorm, the brand new spiffy and incredibly spacious apartments of New Heritage! As for New Year’s Eve, Jessica and I went up to Temple Square using TRAX, just because we had never ridden it. Jonathan was hanging with one of his mission comps who would also be going to SLC, but we never actually met up… But we got there with time to see the temple and the free concerts at the tabernacle – a rock duo named Truman, whose voices and instrumentation blended quite well, and the Nashville Tribute Band, which we were very excited to finally see Jason Deere, Katherine Nelson, Dan Truman, David Osmond, and the others for their excellent country-style music dedicated to The Work. After catching a glimpse of the fireworks from temple square, we ran to the UTA trains again just in time for the last ride home… thank goodness!

So it’s finally the year 2012, and the new year marks resolution-making time. Last year was my first semester of college, and now that I’ve adjusted somewhat to the life here, I need to get rid of my bad habits and replace them with good ones. I’ve divided my resolutions by priority so that I know which are more important than others.

I am aiming my resolutions this year to prepare to be a good missionary. Basically these are to be a temple worthy Priesthood holder each day to prepare for the mission which I plan for halfway through the year. To help, I will read from the Book of Mormon every morning as my first task of the day. But in order for that to happen, I am required to wake up earlier than I did last semester. And that itself involves sleeping earlier. So in order to adjust to missionary sleeping time, I will be in bed by 10PM every night, and be up at 6:30AM. Yeah, this is an incredible goal, seeing as I was never asleep even by midnight before especially with the roommates awake and the late night events, but this is just to create the habit so that every time I get the chance in the future, I will be earlier to bed and earlier to rise. I know that this will overall benefit my health and performance level during the day.

As an improvement from last semester, I will be spending less money, especially on fast food. To save on food, I will be cooking my meals every day, allowing for eating out only 1-3 times as week or not at all. To improve upon my cooking I will be trying a new recipe once a week, avoiding anything prepared. Also, I will avoid overloading my body with too much food, instead stopping when I am full and refrigerating leftovers. I’m still striving to avoid those freshman fifteen. To help with that, I will visit the free gym at least once a week. Look, this is better than nothing, and I’d rather not try more than is realistic for me, as I am prone to give up on such things if they are even in the least bit difficult. The minimum time there will be one hour.

Because I am in Utah, I am required to go skiing/snowboarding at least once. It’s winter semester, the weather should treat us a little more nicely. So that goes on the long-term checklist. Also, I don’t know if I will be needing a job this semester, but it would really help me with money. So it would be a really good idea. Just… the hours! And yeah, I need to get my GPA up. This semester I must get straight A’s. Not even a B. I’m only taking two GenEds, it shouldn’t even be that difficult. Last semester I got a C+ in private lessons. What does that mean? It means practicing my clarinet much, much more. To facilitate this, I will be keeping a practice log, trying to fit in just two hours per day. This will also involve purchasing more music to practice on my own time.

I believe that’s it. Mostly I am trying to be a better person spiritually, physically, and mentally. Toward other people, I will continue to strive for a positive attitude toward absolutely every situation by turning the bad one upside-down. It’s worked in the past, and it still does now. I will also try to be less judgmental toward people that don’t live up to my expectations. I can be a better friend, right? As I once tweeted, a good mnemonic device is a song, in particularly the immediately catchy and overused I-V-vi-IV. You can either make up your own melody and use one of the many, many options in the world already. Might be difficult to make rhyme, but if you do, they are that much easier to remember! And it could be so annoying that it won’t leave your head. Haha, who actually does that…

Well good luck to everyone else on their resolutions! Remember, you’ve got to make the changes yourself. Don’t procrastinate, prioritize! And with that, we journey onto the winter semester and ready to take on the mounting load of work. Cheers to a New Year!

Credit Overload

It’s a late night, and I’m writing in my digital journal again. There are much better things I could be doing right now, the least of which is sleeping, or reading up on my history, or perhaps catching up on my scriptures, practicing my solo and ensemble repertoire, preparing home teaching, contacting numerous people, or even simple things like grabbing my check book or listening to the Norton Scores. But this is one of those paradoxes in life that goes along the lines of digging a pit for yourself, and in the midst of knowing the hardships required to escape the abyss, it becomes less desirable to do anything even remotely related to progress. Then every week comes by and there’s that day that feels like the Judgment Day, when the continued lack of progress will be evaluated in some way. And then there comes a mood, or a state of being even, when nothing seems to matter, and you can forget about everything else and listen to music you’d normally avoid and eat a family-sized bag of Doritos.

Needless to say, I’m really behind in my reading, practice, or work in general. I’m certain that this is a continuing problem that is due to my inability to handle 16.5 credits my first semester; I didn’t think it would be much, I mean it’s somewhere in between 12 and 18 so it sounded like a nice average at the time. But after discussing it with several people, I feel like I am indeed in a sea of too much work that I could probably be avoiding. But it is kind of half way through the semester already; I’m obviously slow in comprehending this. But also at the time of registration I was just following the recommended list of classes for my major, which itself was 15.5 credits. And I added marching band to that, so I guess I just sold my soul right there. But I don’t regret that last part; it’s the best decision I could have made coming out here, and among all this non-musical madness I need some fun mixed in.

I promised to live the Honor Code, so I am going to dig myself out of this hole honorably. In high school, maybe you’d cheat to complete that homework that you didn’t read. Yeah, that’s not going to happen here. One of these days, I am going to catch up – real good. And this has not been one of those days, but honestly there’s no other way out except working your butt off and I’m going to succeed one way or another.

My Obsession With Whole Tones

So I guess it’s been a while since I’ve actually posted anything interesting, so I thought I’d share something. Anyway, I’ve been going through the numerous unfinished drafts I have in Finale, and I’m realizing I had it way worse than I thought. I mean I knew I that I was obsessed with the whole tone scale but now I have to wonder, was that really necessary to incorporate it into every single one? Either that or a regular augmented chord to “add interest”. This also led to my music being either keyless or modulating at every possible moment, because once again I thought it was interesting. Other things I used more than once were successive tritones, tone clusters, and purposeful dissonances such as the dyad of a minor ninth interval. I think the one that displays each of these qualities the most is one rightfully named “Whole Tone Study”. Written at the piano, it is only four pages with ideas still developing, perhaps because my study of whole tones remains unfinished. Although many of the dissonances cannot strictly be defined by whole tones, the influence of the whole tone scale is manifested quite plainly right from the get-go. [removed link]

Some of these qualities can be found easily in “The Tour” and the clarinet caprice. I don’t know why; it seemed that every chord progression somehow needed to include an augmented chord, and I knew that the whole tone scale was compatible with it. I’ve always wanted my chords to make sense: contain consonant chords, but have the chord progression stray from the diatonic. This was not the case with the example above, which tells me something. I was either experimenting or going crazy. Because now I sit at the piano and play something consonant, with chords un-extended, even staying within the key! I know my focus used to be to “make it modulate as much as possible in every direction while still making it sound good”. I achieved something to this extent with “Alfalfa”. But I don’t know what’s to go from here. The question is whether or not my obsession with whole tones was a phase or eternally part of language.

Why I Avoid Arrogance

I you know me or you’ve been reading my blog, you have heard this from me before. Being a musician, there’s probably nothing I’m afraid of more than appearing cocky. I guess I have this reputation set up, and I would hate it if it seemed like I was becoming full of myself since I also detest it in other people. It’s actually not difficult to find people like this in all of my classes, but I suppose it is because they see a need to get ahead in the world. It does make sense; after all, we are just starting out college and want to make the best of life in this cold world.

Last night my clarinet professor asked me, “So you are a composer?” This is a relatively common and simple question, isn’t it? I suppose the correct answer would have been just to say “Yes.” But suddenly there was that whisper, that preoccupation of pride that swelled up in me and I answered something like “I guess.” I now see that this answer could also be taken the wrong way, as if I were trying to be manipulative of their way of thinking. But that is exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place.

If I were to give a reply to “Do you play the clarinet?” I would definitely say yes. Why? Because I have the credentials. I have recordings of my performances and the general feedback is that I have a competitive edge. But suppose there is a young lady who is asked if she sings and she answers “Yes.” There’s a ton of subjectivity there, so there’s really not much to go on. As the asker I would still have my doubts about anything she could do until I heard it for myself. Also in effect, the notion that first impressions are usually wrong isn’t much help either. So I’d rather have that if you wanted to know something, you would not trust my judgment of myself , but you be the judge. I’ll gladly take feedback on my music, just not from me.