I Should Get Out More

I'm a naturally introverted person* so spending time alone is not a problem for me. In fact, I really enjoy it. Every now and then, I'll think of a friend that I need to call; or my fiancé, Ryan, and I will host a games night; but generally speaking, I'm not the sort of person who just "hangs out" with other people. This is probably because, even when I'm by myself, I rarely just "hang out." There's always an activity of some sort,  even if it's as ridiculous as watching television for nine hours. 

This summer, I've had a lot of alone time, due to the fact that I'm not teaching (with the exception of a handful of voice lessons) and Ryan is working full-time during his summer break (bless him, truly). This has meant I have been able to compose with a lot more frequency than I normally do. In the past 6 weeks, I've averaged two new compositions a week, which is phenomenal, for me at least. Six hours a day writing will get you that occasionally. None of these are life-altering works, but they are all things that I've come to be quite proud of, if I must say. 

At the same time, I just took the dogs for a walk, and man, did the sun feel good. So I guess the struggle for balance continues.

*INFJ, if you're curious--though I find that generally only other INFJ's are.


On a Tiny Milestone

I recently found out that my piece, "Journeyman's Song," was selected to be part of the program for the 2015 FLACDA Men's Honor Choir Convention. I was immediately ecstatic: "My work is going to be performed at a major choral event!" Weirdly enough though, I almost as quickly started to feel some strange apprehensiveness about it. 

"Shouldn't you just write your music and enjoy that process?"

"Why should you care if anyone likes your music? You write for yourself, remember?"

"This isn't even that big of a deal. Stop getting excited."

And I guess there's some truth to all of that. I do write music for myself, because it's a creative outlet and I enjoy the process; I do value my own opinion on whether my music is quality; and, in the grand scheme of things, I suppose this one performance isn't that big of a deal. 


On a practical level, there's the hope that this will open some doors. Not that I want to be some famous composer--I am not equipped to handle such things--but after spending years working on your craft, there's always that small part of you that wants more people to appreciate it. 

And I won't lie: it's nice to have a little external validation. It makes you feel like what you're doing is worth something to someone else. I think all artists appreciate someone telling them: "You know that thing you spent hours on, that you spent all your free time crafting instead of watching TV or spending time with your family or getting a good night's rest? That thing is good, and you should be proud of it." 

So while I'm hoping this is the start of something--rather than a flash in the pan--until then, I'm just going to keep working hard, writing music and telling myself "If I like it, that's good enough." I think all artists need a lot of that motivation too.

Aye, Lassie

Every morning during the summer, I go on a little run around my neighborhood. The thing I like about running is there's no delay: I'm out the door, and as soon as your feet hit the ground you're doing what you set out to do. I'm not a big fan of inefficiency. 

I'm not a professional runner by any means (every time it gets cold for the winter, I quit and have to start all over again next summer) but it's the one "workout" I enjoy. I used to listen to music, but I eventually got tired of fussing with the armband and the headphones and gave up. Now, I just run. I listen to everything around me, I watch the things I go by, and I watch the things that go by me. I've heard people talk about the value of mindfulness mediation, but I can't seem to quiet my mind enough for that. Running works because I don't have to be still--I can move fast and think about things. Sometimes it's about the future: "What's my plan for the day? The week? The year?" and sometimes it's about the things around me: "What's that flower? Who's that person I see every day?"
The point is, the running feels secondary. So often, my day is filled with tasks and work and if I do have down time, I fill it with TV and crosswords. I really like running. It's the only time where I even come close to approaching a "zen" state.

At any rate, I almost always see this Collie about halfway through. She's usually out in the backyard, and when she is, she always barks at me. The first time, it startled me. The second, third, and fourth time, it was annoying. Now though--every morning--I run by, she barks, and I yell: "Good morning! Isn't this exciting?" 

I hope someday I can deal with all of life's little annoyances this way. 

New Beginnings

Well, here we are. New website, new blog, new music... it's more than bit overwhelming. But, as Sondheim wrote in Sunday in the Park with George: "White--a blank page, or canvas. ... So many possibilities." And that's how I feel right now! There are so many possibilities lying ahead at the moment. 

I have (sadly) just left my first job as a choir director to go (excitedly) pursue my Master's Degree in Choral Conducting. I first started working at Discovery Canyon four years ago, after graduating from Baylor and moving to Colorado.
I am so upset to be leaving for a lot of reasons. At DCC, I learned all the stuff they don't teach you in college. There was the boring, but necessary stuff: how to file paperwork, how to organize your desk, how to organize the logistics of a concert, how to get a 7th grader to enjoy singing when they'd rather play football, etc. More than that though, I also had the immense pleasure of getting to know an infinite number of incredible kids, and had some of the most wonderful mentors and colleagues that I could have asked for. We made fantastic music together, and I was so proud to call DCC my home. In some ways, I'm sure I always will. There's absolutely no way I could boil down my experience at DCC to two tight little paragraphs (maybe another time we can take a trip down memory lane), but the short version is this: I wanted to stay and really see the program (and my kids) flourish even more, but it also seemed like this really was the time to go back to school to better myself.

Speaking of, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be returning to the University level. I always loved being a student, and I'm actually excited to do it again. Researching, writing papers, challenging myself with a variety of new concepts and skills, singing in collegiate ensembles... I feel like this is what I need to reach the next level as a musician. Of course, we'll see how I feel when I reach the end of the program, ha.

Oh, speaking of new beginnings: I have just rebuilt my website from the ground up! I had originally built braedenayres.com in college, as a requirement for a "Music and Technology" class I had taken. As I fell (and that is how the first few years feel, by the way--falling) into teaching, the website sort of went by the wayside, though I continued to compose. I then finally realized it was time to create a "2.0," and I'm fairly pleased with the result.

Also, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when it came time to upload all my work to this new website. It wasn't until just recently that I got to look at all the music I've composed over the past several years sitting in one place at the same time. It was nice to see all the work I've poured into my composition collected into one place. I'm most excited to say that I have no plans of slowing, either! I have at least 10 new works at various stages of completion, and I'm sketching out new ideas all the time, so there should be lots coming up soon! In fact, I am having my most prolific summer of composition yet. 

The thing I am most excited about, at the moment, is that I am getting a major premiere of one of my works, "Journeyman's Song" at the 2015 FLACDA convention. Earlier this year, I sent out some "sample packets" to various directors across the country, and Patrick K. Freer, from Georgia State University, liked what he saw. There are several exciting things about this, but more on that next time. For now, it's late, and I have lots to do tomorrow!

Till then,