Friday, April 21, 2006

What's Next...

So, the question that everyone keeps asking me is, "What are you going to do next?".

For those of you who don't know, I am in the final stages of finishing my Doctorate in music at Indiana University. I am finished with my coursework, and my teaching responsibilities, and basically have three last, but major things left to do. One is my jury in renaissance lute performance. The other is my major field oral exam. This is where I have to choose 12 works - 6 pre-1900 and 6 post-1900 (3 pre-1950 and 3 post-1950). On top of that, all the pieces have to be in different genres - so for instance I can't have 2 symphonies. I now am on my own to study everything conceivably imaginable about these pieces, when they were written, and anything possibly tangentially related to them. Then, at my oral exam there will be a panel of three composition professors, as well as my music history minor field advisor, as well as the director of graduate studies. They can each ask me absolutely ANYTHING - I have no idea what the questions will be. Sounds like fun eh? THEN, I have to write my dissertation, which admittedly composer get off quite easy because all we have to do is write a piece - no massive tome of a paper - just a piece. A big piece, but it's something we would do anyway. Then, after all that, I can call myself a "doctor" - whatever.

So back to the question - what's next? That's all I hear from people these days - what's next - what's next?

As I've stated in some recent blogs, becoming a university professor doesn't sound too appealing to me at this time. The problem (well, one of the problems) with teaching in the university is that they all want composers to teach everything BUT composition - theory - aural skills - analysis - computer music - music technology - etc etc. I don't want to teach that shit - sorry - I got into this so I could spend my life doing something I love, not teach form in Stamitz Symphonies to the uninterested - I mean, who gives a shit?

One prospect I have been looking into started at Christmas time while I was home in Texas. I watched a documentary called "Rock School" - I recommend it to anyone that reads this - especially classical musicians that have been trained in conservatories - it's definitely something interesting to see from our experience. Anyway, I thought the documentary was cool and I really enjoyed it, but what I was really taken with was the passion and enthusiasm these kids had for the music they were learning and playing. The founder of the school, Paul Green, has come up with a really great way to teach these kids, and it goes way beyond learning from Joe Guitar in a little room at the local guitar shop. The program is focused on performance within a competitive, but nurturing environment. Paul will break up the students into actual bands of different levels, and have these bands play real shows at real rock venues for real rock fans. The bands range from a beginner Black Sabbath band, all the way up to his "All Stars", which in the documentary were playing an all Frank Zappa show - and they weren't playing easy Zappa - they were playing hard Zappa.

So, the more I thought about it, the more I became interested in finding out more about the school. I contacted Rock School in January about possibly running one of their branch locations. I've been in contact with them off and on since then, and about two weeks ago I got a call from them. They extended an offer to me to run their new school in Boston which is opening in September. At first, I was really excited about the prospect, but ultimately I turned them down. The door is not closed, it's just about a year too soon, and they understood that. Anyway, it's an option - so that's one thing.

The second thing I've been considering is moving to Osaka, Japan. My good friend Mutsuhito Ogino is from there, and he has put me in contact with someone that is an administrator of an English school. So, the idea would be to start out by teaching English to Japanese, and starting some music projects, and see where it goes from there. Really, I'm just looking for a new experience. Hopefully I'll be able to visit there sometime soon.

In the meantime, I'm moving from Bloomington, Indiana, back home to Ft. Worth, Texas to study and practice and write in order to finish my degree, and save money for trips to Japan, and whatever else is next. So, the answer to everyone's question is that I still don't know, but I do know that my life is still full of possibility, and I have no idea where I'll be a year from now.

My goal is still the same as it was in October 1994 when I dropped out of college and started my journey in music - basically to pursue what I love for my life. I was once again reminded today of how precious life is, and how important it is to spend your life doing what you love, as you never know when your life might be taken away. Just this morning, five talented and promising music students were killed in a plane crash at Bloomington airport. I was acquainted with one of the guys on the plane - Robert Samels. I didn't know him all that well, but well enough that when we ran into each other we would say hi and what's up, blah blah. Robert was an extremely talented singer, conductor and composer. I'm sure the other four were equally as talented - and they all lived doing exactly what they loved doing. I couldn't ask for more than that, and that's what I'll keep doing.


Canadian Basso said...

Hey Tony -
I took your intro to composition class last year, and it reshaped the way I think about music. I still compose, but now only for the Sibelius MIDI inside my computer.

As for what to do, have you considered moving out west and composing a couple of jingles/theme songs/TV movie scores? It's not artistically rewarding in any sense, but from what I hear, it is financially rewarding enough that you can spend the rest of your life composing what you want. I know nothing about that world, but for a musician to make 6 figures on one project is pretty incredible.

Anthony Joseph Lanman said...

Campbell - great to hear from you - thanks for the comment!

Well, there are several reasons why I'm not considering pursuing that. I mean, you're absolutely right about all of that, and I would do it in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity.

I have a very good friend out in L.A. named Steven Gutheinz - he's an extremely talented film composer. Anyway, I've talked with him quite extensively about what it's like to go out there and try to "make it" as a film/TV composer if you're not already in that extremely closed circle of people. I've learned the hard realities of that business from Steve - too much politics and nepotism to go into here...

The advertising thing - yeah that's just not for me. Usually those guys can sit at the piano and toss off "styles" - does that make sense? I don't know - I've never been able to do that - write like someone else, or in a certain style - I can pretty much only write like me - which limits me greatly.

Anyway, it is something that I have thought about in the past, and at one point in my life I was even seriously considering trying to be a film composer, but I don't think that's the path for me.

However, having said that, if I did get the opportunity to do those things, I would at least try it out and see how it went. I'm certainly not opposed to making six figures :)