Music, Performing, Balancing Dreams

Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about a performance I’ll be a part of today.  River City Swing will be performing at American River Brewing Company today, from 4PM to 6PM.  The address is:

11151 Trade Center Drive
Suite 104
Rancho Cordova, CA, 95670

Having said that, it brings me to the topic of this post: my music dreams are stepping on the toes of my writing dreams.

I’m a busy guy.

I’m busy at work, of course, and that’s generally a good thing.  I’m supporting my family through my job, and I’m working for a company that is making green energy more viable, especially in California.  Even when I complain about occasional long hours, I still like my job, and derive a great deal of satisfaction from it.  Whatever time work doesn’t consume is what I have to spend on my other dreams.

Let’s revisit my dreams for a moment.  When I was younger and first figuring out what I realistically wanted to do with my life, I narrowed it down to three things:

  1. Become a music teacher, or some kind of performer
  2. Become a writer
  3. “Something with computers”

Looking at the scoreboard, I can see that “something with computers” pulled way out in front, and has become my bread and butter.  I’ve been doing something with computers for a really long time now, and it’s pretty great.

The music and writing dreams have not been fully realized.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve put a lot of effort into writing for the last several years.  I don’t have a ton to show for it, but I’ve been improving.  I have an unfinished second draft to a decent novel.  I have a couple of short stories which are, according to my writing groups, competent, but not particularly special.  I have a scheduled, dedicating time to writing every week.  And I have this blog, where I share the details of my life along this writer’s journey.

What about music?  Obviously, I’m not going to be a music teacher, though I did get a small taste of what it might have been like a couple of years ago.  I don’t have the patience for it.  Also, I don’t have the education for it.  I’m not qualified to teach children music, and I don’t have the time or inclination to become qualified.

Performing is another matter.  When I joined River City Concert Band a couple of years ago, it was mostly because my daughter was playing with the band.  I wasn’t particularly passionate about it, and my involvement at the time didn’t satisfy me as a performer.  In fact, I felt superfluous.  I felt like I didn’t need to put much more than a B effort into the music.  When my daughter stopped, I nearly stopped as well.  For about a month, I felt like I was wasting my time.

Then something kind of strange happened.  One of the tenors paid me a compliment, about how I was picking up a difficult section of music very quickly, and I suddenly felt special again.  I started putting in a little more effort, and I started to feel like a musician again.

When I was asked to fill in for River City Swing, I was reluctant.  My confidence wasn’t particularly high, and I wasn’t sure if I had the time.  Then I played with them, and suddenly, I was feeling things I hadn’t felt since high school and college.

So now here we are, several months later, and I’m playing in two bands.  Mondays are completely full, Tuesdays are completely full, and we have performances every couple of weeks.  My family has invested money in my music, giving me a new alto and a new soprano.  I’m practicing more at home.  I am a performer.

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about music.  I thought of a trick for transposing from E♭ to B♭, which I’m sure lots of musicians already know, but it only just occurred to me recently.  When you want to go from E♭ to B♭, you add a flat.  Or going the other way, you add a sharp.  For example, a concert B♭ is a G on the alto, and it’s a C on the soprano.  A G scale has one sharp.  A C scale has no sharps or flats.  If I’m playing a G on the alto, it’s going to be a C on the soprano.  Another example… a concert F is a D on the alto.  A D has two sharps.  Add a flat, you wind up with one sharp, which is a G.  So a D on the alto is a G on the soprano.  As long as you know your scales, it’s super easy to transpose between the E♭ and B♭ instruments.

If your eyes glazed over during that last paragraph, it’s okay.  Like I said, this is the stuff I was thinking while going to sleep.  So the next time you’re having trouble sleeping, just transpose some music in your head.  You can thank me later.

Music has become a bigger part of my life.  What does that mean?  Am I giving up on writing?  Is this blog just going to be more boring posts about transposing?

No.  I need to write.  When I’m not writing, I’m unhappy.  I have a novel that needs to be finished.  I will not be completely happy until I’m holding a printed copy in my hand, with my name on the cover.

Spending more time on music means it’s just harder to find time to write, but not impossible.  I read a recent post by Hugh Howey, which looks like it’s about KDP and self publishing, but it’s really about persevering as a writer.  I needed to read this.  It’s encouraging in the ways I needed encouragement.  If I turn off Scrivener to do something else 99 times, it just means I need to open it 100.

Last week, I skipped out on my Wednesday night writing because I stayed up all night working.  This week, I skipped out on my Wednesday night writing because I was feeling a little sick, and I wound up going to bed at 8PM.  I’ve missed a couple of weeks, but it’s not the end of the world.  It doesn’t mean that the journey is over.  It means I’m taking a detour.  I will get there.  It might take a little longer than I intended, but I will get there.