I Refuse To Choose

Hey friends, I have missed blogging to you every week! So here I am, once again on a Sunday, pouring my heart out to you. I wanted to share with you something which is on my mind. Maybe for you it will spark an insight of your own.

I am a composer. Composing music is what I love to do. I know I have a unique musical point of view, something that only I can say. When I sit down to compose it is such a joy. I love working with my filmmakers and game developers. It is great to collaborate with other creatives to tell a story. I also love composing chamber music, something which has recently come into clearer focus for me. I started my musical journey as a violinist (at the age of 4 – my family was so patient!) and working with strings (of all kinds) continues to be one of my absolute favorite compositional things to do.

But this is not the only thing I choose to do.

I love to manage, organize and create systems. I really enjoy project management, and – you may not know this – but films and video games production require Extreme Project Management! I found this niche for myself in the scoring world which seems to fit well with the credit “score supervisor”. It is a catch-all title that fits the role of overseeing all the moving parts that go into taking a score from midi through the score production process to delivery at the dub stage. My skill set in this area, combined with my compositional skills, has meant that I end up doing everything from additional music and arranging to orchestrating and music editing. Last year I founded Joy Music House, made up of composers who share my passion for supporting other composers, and utilizing our various custom skill sets. With JMH I’m able to do work I love, with people I adore, for clients I admire. It’s awesome.

A number of people has asked me: if you had to choose, what would you do? Composing or JMH work? Along similar lines some have asked: do you think if you chose one or the other you would be more successful? Would that focus of intention result in a higher chance of “success”?

I put that word in the annoying “inverted commas” because it is an interesting word to consider. When they use the word success what are they implying? That true success would be making a living from only composing? That success requires picking only one thing? (Or maybe they are not implying anything, just trying to make conversation. No judgement!)

Allow me to share a relevant side story: When I first started doing support work – orchestrating, music prep, etc. – I was warned by a number of composers to be careful because doing this work may negatively affect my chances of being a “successful composer”. (There “it” is again….) They cautioned that people – filmmakers, producers, network executives – would only think of me in one way, and not be able to see me or accept me as being able to do multiple things.

Maybe they were right, and it is a correct statement about some people. But I discovered that I enjoyed support work and was good at it. Also the wonderful filmmakers and developers I now work with are able to see me as a composer while also appreciating the other work I do. I am sure not everyone will be like that…..but have you tried to make everyone happy all the time? Tried to control what people think about you? It is a fool’s errand. As someone told me recently: what people think about you is none of your damn business!

So getting back to that success question. As individuals we all need to consider what success means for us. I have realized that at this stage in my life success means to me not having to choose one thing. I want to do both. I’m good at both. I enjoy both. And I don’t think one will take away from the other unless I let it.

I encourage you to figure out what success means to you, regardless of what others say, and pursue that path. I refuse to choose, and I’m having a great time!

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