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Welcome to the Twenties!

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Happy New Year everyone, indeed Happy New Decade!

It's funny how we have a good ten year's warning that the next higher-level change in arbitrary articulation of time is going to happen, but when it comes along I never seem to feel quite ready for it. Fortunately, the time keeps ticking past whether I have myself organised or not, so maybe I can just carry on with what I was going to do anyway.

Still, January is the tradition time for new starts, and I have some fun projects lined up for the first part of the year. My chorus, the Telfordaires, will be running a Learn to Sing in Harmony course from next Wednesday - and there's still time to sign up if you know any guys in Shropshire or its environs who might like to join in the fun.

And I am poised to launch into my project to explore 8-part arranging, for which I am suspending my usual arranging activities for 6 months to make space. I have harvested an interesting collection of song suggestions to play with already, but if you are struck by an idea any time in the next few months, drop me a note. I like the way other people think of things that wouldn't occur to me. You can expect quite a few blog posts about this too, as I figure my way through the various artistic and technical challenges the form presents.

One of the unexpected things to emerge in 2019 was a strong re-connection to my academic identity, with invitations to present at events in Portugal and Ireland. And at the point they arrived, I had already agreed to write a paper with a less defined deadline than specific events present, which had to be shoved rather rudely to the back of the queue as a result. So I shall also be returning to that project and giving it the attention it deserves. And thus continuing to inhabit my scholarly self for a few more months at least.

I wrote at both the start and end of last year about having a sense of control over one's life - or at least, identifying which bits you can control, and focusing your attention there - and this is something that the discipline of longer-term projects offers quite satisfyingly. Even last autumn, when deadlines were looming threateningly over the work, having daily dedicated writing time and arranging time kept things manageable. Even when (especially when) it all looks like a heap of steaming stuff and you don't know how it's to be redeemed, putting the time in and trusting the process keeps panic at bay.

So I'm looking forward to continuing these structured habits on material and timescales of my own choosing. I have even turned down a couple of overseas adventures in the spring and summer so as to guard the creative space I have carved out. It's rarely the trip itself that eats up the creativity, it's all the prep work that goes into it. And as I found myself writing in one of my first work emails of the year just this morning, time and headspace are related but not identical resources.

Right, time I stopped talking about plans, and starting doing something productive. Wishing you all an engaging and effective year, making your own particular contributions to the universe.

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