“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
- Chinese proverb
Hi! I'm Rebecca Hass, a pianist, teacher, arranger, and composer in St. Paul, MN. I love music from all over the world and throughout history, but will never give up a chance to profess my undying love of Brazilian music. I'm planning on blogging here at least weekly to share what I'm working on, what's inspiring me, as well as thoughts about music and creativity.
Why am I writing?
Isn't it enough just to fill up this website with content that shows you what I do, posting events and videos occasionally? I don't think so - writing is one of the best ways to process thoughts, and a way to connect with other humans, even if only through the Internet.
As a proud introvert, I have historically been mostly a lurker on the Internet, usually scrolling and consuming more than sharing and participating. Let’s use the internet morefor meaningful things, and less for endless scrolling (guilty as charged!) I think it's so important to stretch out of our comfort zones, especially when that pushes us toward more things that we really want to be doing. Scary stuff is worth it - I heard this somewhere once: if something kind of makes you want to puke, it’s probably a step in the right direction.
Most of us have a few “I could never..."s hanging out in our brains (I know I have), but they're not even true - Paul Jarvis expresses this better than I can here. Luckily, I overcame a big "I could never" when I became a music major about 15 years ago. I'll spare you my life story for now, but I actually started school as just a minor in music - not because I thought it would be difficult to make a career, but because I actually doubted that I could do it! I don't think that I often say "I could never..." anymore, but there are plenty of things that I haven't started because I didn't know how. Now this blog won't be on that list.
Creating > Consuming
In the 2010s (what are we really calling this decade, anyway?), it's so easy to overshare on countless platforms. Just thinking about the hundreds of billions of tweets being archived by the Library of Congress is pretty unfathomable, and how much of that is really worth reading, or re-reading? I've always been someone who thinks (and overthinks) before they speak or share, but I really think that creating in a meaningful way is more valuable than simply consuming.
This is why I find myself gravitating more toward arranging and composing vs. playing classical music, where one's main job is interpreting material given to them, as opposed to creating new material. (It wasn't always this way, though!) No disrespect to the great classical players, but I know that I wouldn't be happy only doing that.
Composing / Doing Scary Things
Another big past "I could never..." for me was composing. I took one music composition class at my high school, and one in college, but didn't dare label myself as "A Composer", because I never felt like I really knew what I was doing. As a person who often thoroughly reads the instructions and over-researches new projects, it didn't come as naturally to me as reading other people's notes off the page. Over the last few years, I've been doing more arranging - creating my own spin on someone else's tune - which felt like the gateway to composing. A little over a year ago, I decided to form a habit - writing little snippets of things daily, but hadn't made the leap to share it with any other musicians.
Then, in December 2015, my trio played at the New Ruckus Composer Night here in St. Paul, a friendly place to play original music of any kind. I decided that night to get in line for my own slot (because I find deadlines motivating), which ended up being in July 2016. I brought beginning sections of two pieces, and was pleased to get some very positive comments, but ultimately it was most important for me to just show up and show my work.
I made a rough video of the first section of one of the pieces (a Brazilian choro) - see below! The other sections are still emerging, but I'll post more when I can.
What's something scary you've recently pushed yourself to do?