The Golden Rule

by AL BENNER

It seems more and more people today expect instant gratification. This "trend" is also creeping into the attitudes of us as composers. Unfortunately, we exist in a profession where instant gratification conflicts with reality because for most of us, our reward, if and when it comes, will arrive over time. When things are "going our way," we tend to get an inflated idea of our worth; and when things are "not going our way," we tend to get a deprecating view of ourselves. It is the person that can remain relatively even in times of good or bad that has the character to last. And yes, ultimately character does matter.

I have touched upon it in previous columns, but it is worth repeating--what is the value of getting oneís compositions performed? Although there are always exceptions, the composers that are getting the most performances are the composers who are active in trying to create performance opportunities for others. They are those composers who build friendships with other composers. They are the composers who have generated relationships with performers--and, this is critical--and have worked with those performers to create something they are pleased to play. They are those composers that after performances--no matter the outcome-- express appreciation to the performer(s) for playing their music and say so. The golden rule applies just as much here as it does in life.

Does this guarantee success? Of course not. Are the better composers the ones getting the most performances? That is a tough call, and on the surface I would say probably not. However, one learns from performances--or at least one should learn from performances. And the more performances, the more one learns--what works, what doesn't. Thus in some ways, the better composers are getting more performances because they get the opportunity to learn. Of course, it is what those composers do with that knowledge. There are very few Mozartís out there, if any. For most of us to survive time, we have to work at our craft. And the more we work, it is surprising how much better we get.

Finally, donít you enjoy being around positive people more than you do negative people. We get energy from the positive; we lose energy from the negative. Positive thoughts do more for us than negative ones. I know it sounds like "pop" psychology, but who you hang around with greatly influences your perspective. And in a profession where the "failures" come more frequently than the "successes," your ability to stay positive, to stay focused, to persevere will ultimately do more to determine your outcome than any other avenue. Good luck!