Monday, June 29, 2015

Enough Never Is

The poor have little,
Beggars none;
The rich too much
Enough not one
Benjamin Franklin (quoted above) was talking about money, but I think that we musicians suffer from a different kind of perpetual deficit. It would not be too much of a leap to assume that most musicians in the non-pop field are not in music mainly for the money. Music as a profession actually makes little economic sense since the amount of work musicians put in (practicing and learning music, building and maintaining technique, rehearsing, marketing) and the costs of the materials involved (the cost of buying and maintaining instruments, the costs of travel, and the costs of publicity materials) rarely make for a balanced equation when you consider the way musicians are compensated for their work (though some of us make more than others). Job security, particularly of late, is anything but secure.

But this post is not about money. It's about feeling validated for the work we do, which is something that I never seem to feel. Even after getting a great review (or rather a favorable mention at the end of a great review), I do not feel truly satisfied. Kind words from people I know (and people I do not know) help, but there never seem to be enough, because enough never is.

If I have a good day practicing or rehearsing, the rewards from that experience happen in real time. They happen while I am at work. Once the music stops, and the memory of it fades (which happens quite soon) they no longer apply. If I practice well, I play well. But if I don't practice for a day, I usually don't play as well as I did the day before. If I do, there isn't anything I can do to guarantee it could happen again. I guess that with practicing, enough never is.

I am in a state of constant assault and constant self-doubt when I am writing something, though the process is punctuated with feelings of exhilaration and stimulation. And when there is nothing more I can do to the music, there it is (and in the case of finishing a piece, enough actually is).

But I have to move on, because that feeling of "there it is" only lasts for a very short time. Perhaps it is that little sliver of satisfaction that we all live for and want to find again.

I did set some of Benjamin Franklin's words to music (and probably will again, because enough never is). The score, parts, and a computer-generated recording are in the IMSLP

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