It was the end of my first year in band. Mr. Wilson had just assigned a “composition project” — kind of like a term paper only for music students, where you had to write a short song. At first I was a little scared, but the more he explained the project, the more I got excited. I wanted to do this.
I can’t remember how long it took me to come up with something, but I remember it wasn’t very long. It was like the music just sat down next to me and said, “look, kid. This is how I work and let’s see how we’ll make me sound. We can do this.” Putting note after note on the page just built my excitement even higher. I loved this. I could do this. I got an A+ on my project, but I wasn’t done. I downloaded some free notation software (Finale NotePad) and got to work. I’d come home and work on new songs when I had the chance, when I had time and the notes in my head. I got involved with a group of composers on a music message board and we traded songs back and forth. One of the adults on the board told me I had a good sense of melodic line, way good for my age. It was like he’d given me a gold medal. I began to wonder if I could do this for a living when I grew up.
Then, I was dissuaded in the name of practical reality. Pressured and cajoled by those I trusted until I quit thinking I could do it. Quit thinking I even had it in me. But funny things happen when you’re dealing with creativity. Like the steps to a pre-determined dance, every step has a specific direction. So even though I took a rather… circuitous route… on my career journey, at last I am back here. Doing the music thing.
And I got a composition job the other day for a local history documentary. They want something original, something unique they can call their own, and they have asked me to write and record it for them. Instrumental. Traditional. I sat down at the piano last night, my head full of notes, and pounded a few things out. It’s a challenge because it will be so different from my songwriter-style. But I can hear all the parts. I can hear how they fit. And it’s unbelievable how good it felt to scribble notes on manuscript paper again. For the next two months, I get the fantastic opportunity to do just what that music-enthused, 12-year-old me dreamt of: write music.
And I’m thinking I can do this.