As a composer, I often struggle with questions pertaining to purpose and meaning in the music that I write. A normal internal dialogue: "Why put an A here--why not A-flat?" This particular example occurs very frequently in my music, as I usually write with out the use of keys or triadic functional harmony. A more complex issue might be something relating to the proportion of the music. "If I have 2 minutes of fast, active textures, am I providing enough balance with this slow section? How many more measures do I need here?" Perhaps the most challenging thing I face is how the music I write is being perceived. When one spends so much time singularly fleshing out one's artistic vision, taking a step back and evaluating with an objective eye is difficult. For instance, I'm always worried that the music I write is going to be too predictable--and for me, once the audience starts to be able to predict what is coming next, that's when boredom sets in and you've lost them. So naturally, I make my music entirely too unpredictable and it becomes that dreaded word that no artist wants to use to describe their creative process: random.
Of course, these problems of audience perception aren't exactly paramount right now at this point in my life: being in grad school, I will always have an outlet for my work. Even if I write a terrible piece, I'm not going to suffer bad reviews or a lack of future commissions. But Longy is preparing us to become professional musicians, and these things become magnified once we leave school--audience reception, lining up commissions, networking with other performers and composers. Every detail plays a part in the creation of successful work, not the least of which is whether that note ought to have been an A-flat after all.