At this writing, I am trying to make some sense out of the recent tragedies in Tucson. My son, Matt graduated from the University of Arizona, and his commencement ceremony was held in the very hall that President Obama made his eloquent eulogy. My wife, Cheryl and I spent many joyful weekends visiting Matt in that beautiful city and for such a senseless crime to have been committed there seems inconceivable. Though having grown up in Oklahoma City and as of late having been a frequent visitor to New York City as the SCL has continue to flourish there, it seems all of us are faced with the reality of bad things happening to people and places that are dear to us.
In addressing the SCL board recently, I reflected on the fact that at times like this we must assess in our own lives how we are spending each precious moment. Perhaps as we move into the New Year, it is a time to reevaluate our goals and give some close scrutiny to the way we are living day to day. I can tell you that nothing has made me more proud than having the opportunity to serve as your president. The joy of meeting new faces and nourishing relationships with those I have so long admired has yielded untold rewards for me.
At a recent function, a writer who is now having huge success pulled me aside and shared with me his story of how he had been ghost writing for sometime and then found himself at an SCL function where I was discussing my own frustration of doing the same thing early in my career. It was a seminar that demonstrated the value of performing rights and how a work you do today will very well be playing thirty years from now and helping you prepare for your retirement. This writer said the day after our seminar, he quit his servitude and has been reaping the rewards of performing rights ever since.
My hope is that our organization will not only enlighten you, offer valuable career building tools, lead to revelations that will enhance your productivity and profitability, but when all is said and done, will also be time well spent in the greater picture. Time is too fleeting to waste in endeavors that are not worthwhile, and all of us in the SCL strive to make this experience one that will enrich your lives. Whether it is joining with your colleagues at functions such as the Sean Callery evening where he created cues in real time to”24”, attending our membership meetings at the historic American Legion Hall and hearing the ever eloquent Shirley Walker talk about her brilliant career or joining as we celebrate icons in our profession at our annual holiday dinner, these hopefully are hallmarks that you’ll remember through the years. Too much of our business is relegated to our own limited spaces. Frustrations that I have recently had in my own workplace has further pointed out the value of spending time with my colleagues and friends and I hope that the SCL has offered those opportunities for you as well.
One of the goals during my tenure as president has been to instill a collegiality among all of us working in this, at times frustrating, at times elating profession. One colleague said that our organization personifies what good things can happen when people have respect for his fellow composer or songwriter. He indicated that at one point, earlier in our history, composer gatherings were as much shouting matches as they were anything else. A few years ago, Dave Grusin told me that the SCL was what community was all about. I want to strive to do everything in my power to continue to foster this feeling. Certainly ours is a profession with much passion, and the right to disagree should be part of a healthy community and respect for differing viewpoints should always be welcome in an organization such as ours. We are all on this journey together and the time we spend, whether it is composing music or writing a song, should be balanced with sharing time with our families and time with our community of friends. The richness we reap will enhance our lives and our music.
Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXVI, Number One, Spring 2011]