Juggling for Beginners

As a freelance creative, commissions can be like buses. You wait ages for one to come along – then three turn up at once. And so it is I found myself, last week, juggling three very different composing jobs.

Juggling Contradictory Demands

So, how do you contend with meeting potentially contradictory creative demands? And ensure each is delivered on time, to the required specification? The answer, as with so many things, lies in good preparation.

In the specific case of fulfilling these briefs, that entails a thorough analysis of the source material. All three are video-based and two came with a ‘guide track’ (example of the style of music desired, to which the video has been edited). A lot of information can be derived from both these sources.

The guide track provides: a genre; sound-pallet (set of instruments/tones); tempo; rhythmic structure; harmonic structure and so forth. Similarly, the video has its own pacing, tone, mood, etc. From these, it is possible to construct a template, complete with sound sources, structural markings, tempo maps and so on.

Early Preparation

But, the bulk of preparation took place before any of this was considered. That comprised years of listening, studying and performing. Immersion in countless musical styles and genres, both as audience and performer. This is not said by way of an idle boast, it is just what I do and have always done.

The point is that if you – or your pupils – have an innate interest in a creative form, you will automatically be preparing for the possibility of expressive output of your own. Not only that but a specific creative interest provides fuel for other artistic pursuits too. Better still, none of this feels like ‘work’.

Experiencing art invariably feeds the act of creative expression. So, the whole process is self-perpetuating. And a library of knowledge will amass over time, virtually of its own volition. When somebody then asks ‘Can you create this?’, you can reply – with a degree of certainty – ‘Yes, I can’.

Normalise Meeting Challenges

The beauty of working with young pupils is that they have not yet learned to question whether or not they are ‘good enough’ to tackle creative tasks. And you can give them the opportunity now to normalise meeting such challenges. That way, you are helping to offset any potential reticence as they mature.

Children that grow to develop an interest in a particular creative area will feel ‘qualified’ to pursue this later in life. Not only that but they will have a residual self-belief that may spill-over into other areas of their adult lives. What a gift, when asked to juggle three contrasting creative tasks, to be able to say ‘Yes, I can do that’.

Good News

So far, I have delivered on two of the three commissions. The good news is that they were well received. The other is in hand and I’m pleased to say that I’m happy with it so far. Which, quite frankly, is what matters – and could  well provide the topic for a future blog post.

One word of warning, though: if you are introducing younger children to  juggling – of any kind – it’s probably best to avoid fire!

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