You’re a WHAT?

Yeah… I get that reaction a lot. I’ve been getting it for years.

It either comes in response to telling people in my work circles what my Masters degree is in, or by telling people at church or choir what my day job is.

And it’s not a exclamation of derision, but rather (I suspect) people are genuinely surprised that someone could be proficient (if I may be so bold) at both singing, playing, writing, and conducting music AND creating, coding, and speaking about websites and web development.

Or perhaps they’re curious how someone could actually be interested in simultaneously engrossing themselves in the artistic and the technical, two disciplines which seem like they couldn’t be more different.

Sometimes I feel it is something to embrace. Something that makes me unique from any other composer or web developer out there. I mean, how many composers get invited to speak at web conferences, and how many web developers have a Masters degree in Composition? And are only 24 years old? And are seasoned Shakepearean actors? And are amazing cooks? And have the best sense of humor? And awesome hair?! Ok… perhaps I’ve gone a little too far there. Back to earth, Peter.

Other times it’s something I honestly struggle with. Why am I splitting my time between two distinctly opposite pursuits? If I were to devote myself solely to just one of them, how much farther would I be able to go? Is my fascination with one preventing me from reaching my full potential with the other?

When will I drop web development and actually do the thing that I spent 6 years and tens of thousands of dollars studying? Or when will I realize that I am but a small fish in the great ocean of composers and that I’m actually a better coder than I am composer (relatively speaking)?

Further, I don’t completely “fit in” with either the programmer stereotype or that of the classical musician/composer. Confession… I’ve never seen the original Star Trek (I just nod my head and chuckle when someone quotes it) and anime doesn’t interest me in the least. And I realized that I don’t have a future in the scholarly musical arena somewhere between studying Pierre Boulez and doing a 45-minute presentation on the history and development of the Requiem Mass in grad school.

At the end of the day, I have to stick with what I know:

  1. I’m not alone. Even in my circle of friends. There’s the organist at school who’s also on the Computer Science faculty. Then there’s two web developers I met recently at a conference in Milwaukee: one with a Masters in vocal pedagogy and another with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
  2. There is a correlation between the technical and the creative. To insinuate that problem solving doesn’t involve some creativity (whether in forming a hypothesis or in how one arrives at a conclusion) is just as erroneous as denying that there is no technique involved in playing a piano concerto (yay! I’m not an anomaly after all).
  3. My talents are God-given. I honestly don’t know what possessed me to start making websites when I was 14. Or why, in the same year, I wrote my first piano arrangement. God doesn’t make mistakes when he hands out talents, gifts, and abilities. Both have given me many opportunities to directly and indirectly share something about Christ to others. That’s not a mistake.

In the final analysis, my job is simply to step through the doors that are opened in front of me and invest my talents wisely.

Yeah… I think about these things a lot. Been thinking about it for years.

Originally published at on October 12, 2012.

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