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  • James Danderfer

The Balancing Act and Creative 'Side-projects'


Hello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!


The balancing act. We all know it. We all do it. For the most part, that's life.


Today however, I'm not looking at how to achieve a work-life balance, I'm only thinking about the balance of artistic pursuits. And I'm weighing the balance of pros and cons. For example, I play about five woodwind instruments professionally (okay, six if you count the flute... which I'm getting better at!) and there's a strong case to be made that, if I want to make steady progress, I should just focus on one or two of them.


That's not even mentioning the other instruments I'd like to spend more time with, such as drums, piano (my first love), guitar, and bass. And then there's all the musical directions I'd like to pursue: straight-ahead bop, more modern stuff, New Orleans groove music, electroacoustic projects, big band composition, classical chamber music, 3rd stream... it goes on and on.


"Specialise, specialise, specialise! Don't try to do it all! DON'T BE A FOOL!" I can hear them say.


Generally, I'd agree with this. I mean, the logic is pretty sound. The more you things you try to do, the less progress you can make on any one thing. That's why I focused on clarinet, and only clarinet, for a period of about 5 years. I needed that narrow focus... at the time. But 5 years later, when I picked up saxophone again for some gainful employment, I got reacquainted with that different woodwind perspective and it actually helped my clarinet playing.


Another example? I took voice lessons for three years, and I practiced singing quite a bit during that time. Am I singer now? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did it help my overall musicality? Absolutely! It informs my music deeply to this day.


So... balance.


I would suggest that always having a creative side-project is a good thing for us. Whether it's voice lessons, or drums, or whatever! It's engaging and will probably make us better artists. And if doesn't? Then, well,... it was just fun!


What's your creative side-project going to be?


Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone! JD




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