Hilltop Diary, April 15, 2022

Feeling too busy? Wish you could learn to say no more often? I have not had much success at it! My Lenten resolution was to “give up” saying yes to too many things, not only for Lent, but generally. I am trying to finish up the projects still on my plate and then start saying no to almost everything but composing. One of those projects has been finally finishing up (this week) my third online course for high-school students, “Basic Music Theory” – twelve video lectures with a workbook and tests graded by the computer. This and my two previously-created music appreciation courses are marketed and ought to be available for years to come from the Homeschool Connections company. If you want to know more about how to register for them, click HERE .

Another big project I thought was all done and over with was my “great classical music” radio series.  It has twenty-one episodes now airing in repeated rotation on various stations and online (INFO HERE). But now there are lots of requests to create more shows, and I have reluctantly said yes, or maybe, but it will perhaps be only a dozen or so new shows and only at a rate of perhaps one a month, and not till this summer. People new to classical music say they like the tuneful selections I play and my user-friendly explanations, and I admit it is a lot of fun for me to make them and crack some corny jokes.

Next, I’ve done several speaking engagements over the past two years that I felt I couldn’t turn down and have written many regular articles on music for publications, but it’s just taking too much time away from composing. I won’t say a permanent no to these but am mostly saying no to both, for the time being.

new flowers

More on these flowers and veg in a moment! But first I’ll say that the remaining Wagyu steak left to finish on my plate is the new album with my big symphony and some choral music. We will finally be done with recording and postproduction in May! Then my part will be done, and I’ll wait for the release in October. The album should be posted online for pre-ordering on Amazon during the summer. Ta-da! For pre-orders there will be a bonus gift you can choose from a few choices! More details to come.

So, by June, please picture me in my studio alone all day happily composing more of the ballet project that I should have done more on by now. That sort of thing was, after all, my original intent in taking an early retirement from teaching. All of this griping about other activities is because I really love composing more than any other professional activity and am missing it. Not to mention that music is now crashing around in my head driving me crazy and demanding to be written down. I don’t mean to gripe, though. I’m grateful for all the things I’ve been privileged to do, every one enjoyable and gratifying.

Pond Job

This morning I took on a bit of a nasty job, cleaning out our garden fountain that has been turned off all winter. It was not what you’d call stagnant, since it’s been too cold, but just full of green mold, leaves, and debris. I started by siphoning out the 30 gallons of water with a hose (photo on left), then vacuuming and hosing it out and scrubbing it and checking the pump (middle photo, orange vac in upper left corner) . The water pump had not worked at first, so I took it apart and cleaned it, and behold, it worked! The turquoise thing in the middle is actually an old Christmas tree stand, which I put the pump into and covered with screen wire to keep most of the leaves from getting into the pump. Finally, I refilled the pond with fresh water and turned it on (right photo). It feels somehow like a catharsis and a spring revival! All we have to do now is fill those four raised flower boxes (and more not shown) with more flowers, in addition to the pots pictured above.

Meanwhile, my wife and partner in crime, Crystal, is about to open in one week as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” Yay! It will be at the Lakewood Theatre in Old Hickory, TN, not so much a town as one of the many named suburbs of Nashville that used to be separate towns. (Click here and scroll down for online tickets.)

I have spent many a fun hour reading lines with her and playing all the other characters in my best squeaky high and deep voices and mischievously adding the words “brown cow” whenever a character begins a line with “How now.”

She has indeed memorized the most demanding script of her theater career. Rosalind is Shakespeare’s longest female role in all of his plays, and a most impressive feat of memory indeed for any actor, not to mention learning to act the role with the charm and expression she brings to it. I’m in awe. The show runs this April 22 through May 8. Crystal goes back to musicals next and has more new musical roles and auditions already lined up, but I’ll give details on those when it is time to do so.

I am grateful for the many congratulations I have received for being named Composer Laureate of the State of Tennessee. (See April 3rd Hilltop Diary). Thanks! There is still supposed to be a formal presentation of the signed, framed certificate on the floor of the big legislative chamber in the state capitol building, but I’m told the event is still in their pipeline waiting for a day and time to be assigned in the midst of a very busy legislative season.

I’m happy to report that there have been no new rejections of my fantasy-fiction novel. Yay! That’s because no publisher is even considering it at the moment, but I’ll let you know once the next one has seen it and also rejected it! Hahaha. 

That’s all for now, so till next time, I wish you fountains of spring revival of your own!

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