Lent 2

So Easter (and therefore Lent!) is well and truly over.  Those of us who have anything to do with education are back to work with a vengeance!  I had meant to post this much sooner, but you know how it goes – life is what happens while you were making other plans!

So did you give up anything for Lent?  I didn’t – but, as I indicated in the last blog, I took something up and set myself a challenge.  For each the 40 days of Lent (you get Sundays off, apparently) I set myself the goal of coming up with something new musically.  This proved to be a very valuable and rewarding experience.

As a composer, I’m forever doodling away at the keyboard, fiddling with software and trying to come up with new sounds and ideas.  However, most of those embryonic sketches never see the light of day – for a variety of reasons.  Like many creative people, I am my own worst critic and impose a great deal of self-censorship upon myself.  By nature, I’m a tortoise rather than a hare!  I tend to work slowly and carefully, only putting material out into the big wide world once it’s been written, re-written, rehearsed, recorded, re-recorded and edited.  I also have to hold my hands up and admit that I ignore one of the most important pieces of advice I give to students:  “Don’t throw anything away!”  I’d rather keep doodling (telling myself that if an idea is any good I’ll remember it) than hit record and commit to keeping a version, however rough.

So the 40 days of my Lent challenge made me determined to come up with a chunk of musical/audio material every day.  I took the opportunity to push myself in all kinds of different directions too.  I made myself use (and learn) unfamiliar pieces of software, program new sounds, explore difference ways of working.

The results can all be heard in this Soundcloud playlist.


I’ve just listened back to the whole collection and I’m really pleased I did this.  The casual listener might hear these little chunks of audio and think, “So what?” but to me they represent lessons learnt and challenges overcome.  Will anything there set the musical world on fire? Er, no – probably not!  There’s stuff there which is immediately forgettable and times when, even with self-imposed hurdles, I’ve managed to lapse into cliché.  But amongst the collection are moments of promise.  There are some interesting sounds I’d like to explore in greater depth, some programming techniques which I need to weave into my workflow and some musical ideas which inspire me to dig deeper.

However, the greater legacy of this little Lenten experiment is to be found in the way I approach creative work.  Truth is, I now feel a bit incomplete unless I’ve made myself knuckle down – even for 5 or 10 minutes at the end of a full day  – and create something and commit to it.

Though it can be thought of as elusive, mysterious and magical, creativity is not about sitting around waiting for inspiration but is more likely to be found by simply turning up for work resolved to create.