(“In which a Roman quotes a Greek”)
by Joshua Roman
So, after all of the drama of 2015, what’s in store this year?
The number one thing that’s now set and will help in my quest for a focused year is: a place to call home. After almost eight years in NYC (and a few months in Jersey), I’m now living in a small one bedroom in Chelsea. It’s ideal for getting around town, close to all kinds of subway stops, and walking distance from many of my usual hangs. It’s only 20 minutes to visit my sister and her family, and there are great grocery stores about a block away in every direction. Last night I was able to get to Carnegie Hall to see the Philadelphia Orchestra in about 15 minutes.
This is the reason to be in NYC! Especially for someone who’s gone a lot, it’s hard to justify the rent if you’re not taking advantage of the many wonderful goings on. There are so many wonderful people doing exciting things, and this year one of my top priorities will be feeling grounded in the cultural life of this city. Reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen while on the road can be difficult, but I have renewed hope and energy now that I’m in a central location.
Everything else this year flows from that, the physical settling that I can now begin. I still travel a lot, but another goal is to develop a sense of routine. Of course, my idea of routine might be very different from someone else’s – mine revolves around performance dates, writing deadlines, and flight departures. But it’s still an important concept, especially at a time when there are many balls in the air that need to be managed with careful attention.
Some of the results I hope to achieve:
- Feeling ahead of the practicing game, enough so that I can do extra projects like Everyday Bach with regularity.
- Polishing my existing compositions to satisfaction.
- Getting ahead with the projects I’m working on. Examples: this blog, concerts at Town Hall Seattle, other programming.
- Engaging more with my communities, especially my music friends and TED friends, so that the relationships I care about most are well tended.
- Finding ways to integrate the issues I’m most passionate about into what I do when appropriate. Some of this needs to happen regularly, like continuing to expand diversity in my music making, both in terms of performing partners and in the music itself. Some of it is a little trickier to pin down: how does one do anything to promote campaign finance reform? Some of it is related to relationships with organizations like Street Symphony in Los Angeles, and will happen project by project over time.
- More performance opportunities.
The balance of fresh and routine is always important. Last year was fresh-heavy, but this year it’ll be fun to find ways to develop routines without closing the door to great opportunities. You never know what’s coming your way, on the street, or when you glance at your inbox, or even sometimes on stage! I welcome any tips on time management, especially from those who are juggling similarly diverse projects. By March, I hope to be far enough ahead to watch one movie without feeling guilty.
To close today’s thoughts, I want to talk about the zone. We’ve all felt it, I hope. I get the feeling a lot on stage, but it can happen other places as well. There’s a zone when exercising, there’s one for reading (easy to get into), there’s one for writing, and for cooking, etc. There are also zones that are shared, when there’s a mutual connection in chamber music, for example. Or, if you’re lucky, sex.
I’m a zone junkie, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that SOME kind of routine or trigger, whether conscious or not, is very important in getting into that creative or performative zone. We create the habits we live by – I think it was Aristotle that said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” If you’re interested in digging into the zone, I recommend this book which I read more than a decade ago. It resonated with a lot of what I felt to be true but was unable to articulate at the time: The Inner Game of Tennis.
So, 2016’s broad goals: Openness by way of focus and maintenance.
Methods of achieving this: Routine, buffer time, and management of distractions.
We’ll get into some details of the various manifestations of these practices later. For now, I leave you with a playlist and some encouragement to stake your claim on your time, and go for whatever it is you’ve been holding back on.
The Westerlies: Wish The Children Would Come On Home (SI’s Album Review)
Third Coast Percussion: The Works For Percussion 2
Jeff Buckley: Grace