I’m not really a fan of New Year’s Resolutions but I do like the general sense of optimism that comes with new beginnings. Here are a few challenges I’m setting up for myself for 2013. I don’t expect success on all accounts. I will welcome a certain sense of failure here (because what option do I have?).

Weekly Music Drama

My background is almost entirely instrumental. I was kind of an active singer when I was a kid but dropped it in the 7th grade due to a horrible choir teacher. I’ve always gravitated towards instrumental composition, especially chamber music, but I really want to ramp up my vocal writing. I tried the whole “Lied Time” thing last semester but abandoned it because I was simply too busy. I’ve set myself up to write more vocal music this year, though, and to assist that I’m going to boost my knowledge of the literature. I’d like to watch one music drama a week for 2013 and blog/live tweet my reactions. I’m starting today by going to the MET broadcast of Les Troyens (go big or go home, I guess). I have a couple of Sondheim musicals in my Netflix queue, we’ll see how it goes. If I want to compose successful music dramas, there is no better way than to steep myself in them for a while.


I love teaching counterpoint, I love doing counterpoint exercises. This semester I’m teaching Advanced Counterpoint (an undergrad/grad course) and we are going to do some hardcore Baroque composition using the Schubert/Neidhöfer text. My goal here is to lead by example and do all the assignments I give my students. I think it will be fun and informative for me and my students. Yeah, I might blog about it too, so prepare yourself.

Surround Sound

I’m also teaching an electroacoustic music course this semester. My challenge here is simple: spend time each week working in the lab, not my office. I need to become more fluent with the lab setup so I can help students troubleshoot. I will probably compose etudes similar to what I’m asking my students to do so that the students have a model of what could be done. Also, I’d like to complete a surround sound piece this semester. That is a particularly low-priority challenge because I have no real reason to compose it other than my desire to do it. I have three other pieces which NEED to get done, so those will always win.


The year 2012 essentially killed my hobbies. This was not unforeseen given the birth of my second child as well as a particularly massive teaching load. Looking back, though, there were plenty of times that I could have stopped, taken a breath, and done something I enjoyed. I’m rectifying that for 2013. More sewing (I just bought a dress form) and more beer making (I’m getting a keg system).

These aren’t really goals, they are paths. I’m going to go off in these directions and see where they lead. They might go nowhere and if they do, they do. They might lead me somewhere else than where I was intending to go. If they do, they do. New beginnings don’t necessarily lead to specific endings. I tell my students that all the time. These are the journeys I’m going to take up. I wonder where I’ll be when they stop…

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