About Composing

R. Christopher Teichler
Jun 3 · 4 min read

On my Facebook page, there’s an “About” section (new? never noticed before?) that looks like the Facebook Notes application. In the interest of promoting myself and explaining to visitors why I have a Facebook page that they should “like,” I decided I should write something. I thought I would just jot down a few thoughts, and before I knew it, I had written a few paragraphs!

I love writing music. I didn’t always, and I didn’t realize it. Looking back on the first several years of my composing, I know now that I loved FINISHING pieces, and getting them performed. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but I think it hampered my creativity. I wrote good music, I wrote nice music; but, I was always careful to make sure I knew it would sound good, and this made me play it safe and take very few risks. Frankly, I was afraid to. And, my work suffered because of it (but again, I realize this looking back and did not realize it at the time). So now, maybe the last 12 years or so, I’ve slowly allowed myself to take more risks, be a little more experimental, be a little more daring. Now, I must confess that my “daring” is still WAY on the conservative side of music composition! But, it’s genuine for me, and I will continue to stretch myself.

Now I take my time with my pieces, not in such a hurry to finish. I still write pretty quickly, in my opinion, but I make sure to take several passes at what I’ve been working on, putting on a more critical and analytical hat in the process. I actually spend more time editing than I do composing! And yes, this has made my music better, and more rewarding. Strangely enough, my output hasn’t slowed down at all! But, I think that’s because I work more consistently; I do something every day, whether it’s sketching, orchestrating, editing, etc., and the regular daily work does make a difference.

So why should you listen to my music? I don’t know! I think you need to know me to understand my music, and that’s what I try to do with this Facebook page. I try to show the authentic me: the one who loves music, who writes for everything from middle school band through professional symphony, who loves the Chicago Bears, who enjoys bad puns, and who is a father, a husband and a man of deep faith. I write about what interests and moves me, challenges me to be better; and if it resonates with you on any level, then I humbly thank you for listening and letting me share with you.

I don’t like writing about myself, it has always felt boastful to me. Even in sharing the above, I’m fighting feelings of “nobody cares,” “you’re coming across as self-important,” etc. But, perhaps, me keeping thoughts like this bottled up is really what is prideful. Let me explain: I don’t like being vulnerable. I avoid opening up about my art because I’m afraid of the response. I’m afraid that people will read what I’m thinking and feeling, and mock/ridicule my vulnerability. One way this has manifested itself in my music is that I usually describe my music in purely objective, abstract terms. When analyzing music, this is absolutely appropriate and necessary; this is the “what” of a composition. But when it comes to the “why,” I usually remain silent, because I’m worried about the response from others. So, I keep it to myself. I don’t open up. I keep some distance between myself and the listener. THAT is what I think is truly prideful — Fear of being vulnerable.

I share all of this as part of my attempt at growth. I want to be more courageous in sharing the “why” of my composing. Ironically, an objective fact is that the new music community that I have connected with over the last year or so is the most supportive and encouraging community of which I have ever been a part. This has helped. This has encouraged me to take baby steps towards change. And to anyone who reads this that has experienced similar feelings: don’t be like me! Don’t wait to start opening up about your art when you are in your forties! The truth is that some will love the “why” and some will not. That’s reality. That’s what I’m constantly reminding myself lately.

R. Christopher Teichler

Written by

Composer, Professor, Husband, Father, Bears Fan.

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