MONDAY BYES — October 3, 2016

This is a long delayed THANK YOU to composer Jonathan Newmark who wrote in on the topics of legacy and how we measure success.

The word legacy always reminded me of dogs marking their territory. And men donating buildings to be named in their honor. It seemed all about trying to provide evidence that you’d amounted to something or that your life mattered.


But Jonathan sent in a wonderful story about his mentor, the retired CCM faculty member, composer Joel Hoffman. From what I gathered, Hoffman measures the value of a composition in part on whether or not it “makes the players feel better about themselves.”

I was struck by this idea. It got me wondering whether ALL of the work we do could be assessed this way—by its effect on others’ feelings about themselves. How else do we get a read on if we make an impact?

This may be of help for those occasional 3 am nagging questions of whether or not a career making music is essentially a selfish, egotistical, or frivolous vocation.

This all came up because I recently attended a terrific conference in Austria (pinch me!): The Vienna Music Business Research Days at the University of Music and Performing Arts there. In between conversations on blockchain, Spotify, and copyright, people were also talking about how musicians define success.

However we’re defining or measuring success, ultimately what people want is to have a meaningful life. For me, that translates into being of service and making an impact.

Which brings me back to Jonathan and my new found understanding of legacy.

I’m now thinking that legacy is more about the daily interactions—the impact, small and large—we have on others. And how these interactions create ripple effects and waves of reactions.

Over a lifetime, our behavior and the example we set impact more people then we can ever imagine. Our cumulated actions are our legacy.

“My life is my message.” — Ghandi

Of course if you also leave to posterity some great music, inspiring recordings, and motivated students or clients—well that’s not too shabby either.

Question for the week: What’s your intended legacy? And what have you done for it lately?

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback. I’m at

More Bytes on legacy HERE.

Details on working with me HERE.

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