Somebody Pinch Me
By Alexandra Gardner
I did all that really fun stuff and they’re going to (*gasp*) pay me for it?! Sweet!
(*Tap! Tap! Tap!*) Testing, testing…. is this thing on? Yes? Great!!
Hi everyone! Wow, I can hardly believe I’m here. Having been an avid reader of NewMusicBox since its inception in 1999, as well as a member of the American Music Center for as long as I can remember, it’s completely exciting (not to mention intense and frenetic with so much to learn!) to join the NewMusicBox team. This is kind of a dream job for me. It combines so many things I enjoy doing—listening to music, writing words about music, talking to people who make music, and being an all-around media technical geek. There have already been numerous days when I pack up for the evening and think, “I did all that really fun stuff and they’re going to (*gasp*) pay me for it?!” Sweet!
A satisfying aspect of this newness is that I finally see how all of the seemingly random “day jobs” I have held over the years in order to supplement my composing habit have actually been quite helpful in leading me to this point. Early on I managed the apartment building where I lived, spent time at the FCC as a paralegal, and worked at a test prep company. Often there have been gigs related to audio technology—sound technician for theaters, instructor of music technology at a community music school, audio engineer at National Public Radio—and most recently a foray into web design and development. I thank my lucky stars for the organizational, communication, management and yes, copious troubleshooting skills these experiences have added to the mix. They will all come in handy now.
My composing life has also benefitted from these various gigs. Along with the actual writing of music, which can, in and of itself, require mad planning chops, comes working with performers, scheduling rehearsals and recording studio time, organizing concerts, writing grant applications, coordinating fundraising activities, developing press materials, you name it—so many things need to happen in order for music to come to life. Hello, project management! My Much Better Half had the good sense to point this out, while I was laser-focused on doing what needed to be done to get the music into the world.
Now that I’m here at AMC, in addition to having more time and opportunity to dive into issues that affect the world of new music, to read more and to respond more, the really great thing is that rather than feeling as if I am maintaining two separate lives, as has almost always been the case (aside from some blissful years during which I was able to make ends meet through composing alone) there is now one—a life in music.
I think that more and more there are numerous career pathways composers can take which will lead to productive, satisfying creative lives. Although sometimes those routes are not entirely clear at the outset, and the process for each person may require some (or perhaps much, as in my own case, ahem!) shifting and adjusting, it is important to remember that there are relevant skills and knowledge to be gleaned from whatever work—be it musical or otherwise—one is doing. As artists we are at an advantage in our ability to “think outside the box”, and applying that sort of creativity to the many facets of daily life that ultimately support and nurture one’s art seems more important now than ever.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to meeting all of you!