09 March 2010

Stress Test

You ever have one of those days, weeks, months, years were you feel incredibly stressed out? I'm there. I just finished a new piece—a piano concertino (for piano and small accompanying group including flute, clarinet, percussion, violin, and cello)—aptly titled Stress Test. I am a strong believer that music should reflect where composers are in their lives, both aesthetically and personally. The last couple of months have been incredibly stressful as I am in the throws of training for ironman, raising children, finishing a piece, and managing not to get fired in the process. Unfortunately, the one thing that has to fall by the wayside when I get buried is my training. I want to spend time with my children, and I have to write. I do not have to train. Sure, if I don't I am definitely not a happy camper. I get incredibly grumpy, stressed, and I am not a lot of fun to be around. Ask my wife. Not to mention, that if I do not put the time in, I can go out there and run Ironman, but Ironman will not be very forgiving. It knows if you have not put the time in. When I get my workouts in, I am a better human being, husband, father, friend, colleague, and composer. Workouts clear the cobwebs. It is my therapy. My saving grace. I am not sure how to cope when I miss a workout—or worse—a few consecutive days because life is kicking my ass. Any suggestions? I feel really guilty (and lethargic) when this happens, and always feel like it is going to take another week to get back on track.

So, my new piece is all about where I am in my life. It is broken into four separate movements:              I) Glossolalia (the act of speaking in tongues,)  II) For My Father, III) Hyperactive Sofa (for my  friend, composer Marc Mellits,) and IV) For My Mother. My parents always comment on how they do not understand contemporary music and ask me repeatedly why am I unable to just write music like Mozart, Beethoven and Puccini. I have had discussions with them about this, but it proves futile, as they really do not understand that those guys are now dead, and had they been alive and writing music now, they would probably be writing experimental music using brake drums and cow moo's. With my parents  getting elderly, I wanted to attempt to bridge the gap between music that they "understand" with my music. I sought out to write a movement for each of them with simple melodic lines,  transparent textures, and a more consonant harmonic language that communicates what I want, and at the same time connects with their sensibilities as music listeners from a different generation and cultural upbringing. That is what I like best about music—its transcendent nature—to connect, and share a unified communal experience. The whole piece is about twenty-two minutes long. Stress Test premiere is in April and I am really excited. An old student of mine, friend and wonderful composer, Nicholas Omiccioli is copying parts for me. Watch for this young composer, he has an incredibly bright future!

Just returned from a forty minute run between classes. Ah.. therapy!

More soon, Train Smart!


nicole said...

Mark, be forgiving to yourself. I feel the same way about missing training runs and when I talked at length with some of our training coaches they assured me that it would take at LEAST 2 full weeks of doing nothing to begin losing the ground you have already gained. So, don't be too hard on yourself. Life happens and the ironman will always be there but your kids grow fast and jobs are a must so maybe only do 1/2 of one event for something to do instead of trying to fit in everything on a day that is not going to work... just my 2 cents for what its worth :)

KC said...

i understand completely about getting all out of sorts when the training starts getting all out of whack b/c life gets in the way. I too, get cranky and i'm not pleasant to be around. but maybe you could wrote out a tentative training plan with your goal total mileage and/or distances for each discipline, then, like you did today, fit in as much as you can, where you can and see at the end of the week, how close you got to the planned totals. You may not be that far off, even though you didn't do everything in the exact planned order. I find sometimes having less time to train, makes me train smarter and more efficient.

RockStarTri said...

My wife has said, many times, that I am a much better person all around when I train. She has said that while I may not be around as much, when I am around it is higher quality me. Always remember, Ironman doesn't care but your family does.

The best part of your post are those two magic words "train smart." Using a coach got me able to streamline my training to get time back. The best part of your post are those two magic words "train smart."

Good job on finishing the piece. I'd like to hear it some day.

rUntoNamAste said...

Having no time for anything is the story of my life and I'm single with no kids. You're a super hero in my books!

Just take it one day at a time. [Hope that cliche piece of advice helps]

Mark said...

Thanks for the encouraging and uplifting words everyone. I feel a giant weight off my shoulder now that I have finished this piece. Now, I have to "jump start" my workouts again. You know the old saying "a body in motion tends to stay in motion...," or something to that effect. I have gotten pretty comfortable not putting in two and a half hour workouts. But, time to get cracking!