You see, I’ve often been a bit conflicted about the profession I’ve chosen. I love composing, I love teaching, I love being in the music world. But I sometimes feel a little bit guilty, I don’t always feel like I really contribute to society. If I’d been a doctor or a police officer, or something like that, I’d be helping others in much more obvious way. This doubt about the value of being a composer rears its head from time to time, when I was applying to masters programs, when the economy tanked and I lost pretty much all my private music students, and any time budget constraints in the music world (academic or otherwise) are mentioned. Whenever things get discouraging, I wonder if I’m really doing the right thing, if I’m contributing to society in a positive way. It’s not that I think I could have been a doctor or anything (I cringe at the sight of blood!), just that I feel like I give back less than others.
But then I was commissioned by the Petit Family Foundation to write a piece in memory of Jennifer, Hayley, and Michaela. And for the first time, I felt like I really helped people through my craft. Music has the power to heal (or at least soothe) the soul. Talking with people afterwards, I got the impression that hearing my work helped give them some peace.
Now, whenever that doubt comes back, whenever I start to think that I don’t contribute to society, I can remember this moment, and know that my music can be cathartic. I may not be able to heal broken bones, but my music can bring comfort to broken hearts. So, my fellow composers and musicians, if ever you have any doubt in the value of what you do, know that making music is important, it is desired, and it is treasured.
Pictured from left to right: Timothy Wilfong, baritone; Melissa Wertheimer, flute/piccolo; Pablo Issa Skaric, cello; Dr. Petit; myself; Douglas-Jayd Burn, piano; Mary Matthews, flute/alto flute; and Joe Ierna, Petit Family Foundation board member.