There’s something that bothers me. It bothers me when I walk around outside, and 99% of the people I see are looking down at their phones. The sun is shining, the grass is green, the air is fresh, the water is sparkling (yes, I live in Florida now, sorry to all you Northerners!), but no one is looking around and admiring nature. Everyone is looking down at their phones. Granted, I am a hypocrite, because I do this sometimes, too. But I have been making a conscious effort to do something crazy when I am walking outside: actually walk and look around me. (A novel idea, right? You may even avoid bumping into both animate and inanimate objects if you do this.) The benefits are numerous: I notice things I never noticed before. I find new beauty to appreciate and thank God for. I see how dumb the people around me look who, heads bent in seeming obeisance, are glued to their phone screens.
I've been thinking a lot about the past and present state of classical music--what kind of music was composed in the past, and how does it compare to music being composed right now? Generally, I have noticed a trend away from organization toward the chaotic. If you compare modern-day compositions with those from the 17th-19th centuries, the two most striking differences are harmonic and organizational. Compositions of the past are built on harmonies and melodies that the ear can relatively easily distinguish and understand: if you listen to a Mozart piano sonata, you can hear a clearly defined melody; you can follow that melody through its development; and you can tell when it comes back throughout the piece.
I have struggled with performance anxiety since I was six years old. My first on-stage musical performance was singing Sing the Word songs with my dad and sister at a small local church. While I sang, I looked at the ground literally the entire time. In high school and college, my symptoms included (but were not limited to) extreme nervous breakdowns, depression, sleeplessness, and lots of tears before and after performances.