Turning the Tables, Cutting the Slack

Turning the Tables, Cutting the Slack

Changed Priorities Ahead

I just canceled my MySpace account, and I feel so…free! That clunky, cranky beast of a social media site has been a pain in the you-know-what since day one, and now I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Aaaaaahhhhh.

Perhaps some will say that erasing one’s presence from MySpace is a bad idea, while others did this ages ago with no regrets whatsoever. In my experience, there is only so much social networking that one person can manage (that is, a person without, er, “people” to do it for her) and for me MySpace fell long ago to the “why on earth am I using this?” section of the list.

This is but a small part of a “clearing my plate” process that I am currently undertaking in preparation to begin a new musical project that will likely consume the better part of the next year. It is something that came up quite out of the blue, and I would never in a million years have suspected that I would ever do anything like it, and it will present challenges that are at once (in my opinion) fantastic and terrifying. And no, it is not an opera!

Anyway, said project got rolling this week, and in the midst of a meeting I realized that in order for it to work, changes have to be made that involve seriously cutting out the slack. Things that require an expenditure of time which do not bring anything to the table are gone. All other outstanding projects are nearing completion and will soon be finished. And the really hard part has to do with saying no. Some people are really good at this, and I am not one of them, but slowly I am learning. A dear and brilliant pianist friend once said, “there are points at which an artist just has to be really selfish in order to get the work done.” Wise words.

The Ariels and the Savvy Musicians and the Beyond Talents all say that it is important to spend time engaging with one’s audience, and while this is very true, it is also important to have a sense of how such activities contribute—or don’t—to one’s well-being as an artist and as a person. After all, social networking means nothing if there is not music being made, or if it takes the place of real-time interaction with family and friends, or of you know, eating dinner.

Google+ anyone? Not for me right now, thanks. I’m composing.

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2 thoughts on “Turning the Tables, Cutting the Slack

  1. Phil Fried

    Robert Greene, who I quote here, takes a different tack (even as cynical as I am I can’t agree with him). Rather he sees the social network as far more important than the music. As, for him, that is where success is built.

    “There is a university called CalArts in California. I have friends who have gone there. Very interesting place. It was a school that was formed in the sixties, essentially, and basically it is an arts school. They discerned that the art world, there is no more political, crabby, competitive, mean-spirited world than the art world. Because what makes a great work of art or film is very subjective. So there is a lot of politicking. And they created this university to literally train their students to be good at that. They created this thing where you had to learn how to deal with your professors and deal with the politicking and talk about your work in a way that would charm and seduce. And actually develop the kind of political skills that you are going to need when you later go into the art world. That is kind of a unique thing for a university,…”

    see here: http://powerseductionandwar.com/robert-greenes-speech-at-yale/

  2. Alexandra Gardner Post author

    Phil, that speech is so interesting….couldn’t…stop….reading…!
    Having actually attended CalArts for a year, I can’t say that this was my experience as a composer, but I can totally see how it might be the case for the visual artists or some of the other disciplines there. I’m not sure he is saying that the social network is MORE important than the work, but perhaps that it is equally important, and I can’t say that I disagree. I think his ideas could be read with a different frame so as to be not so cynical, but I definitely see your point! Thanks for sharing this!


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