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December 31, 07

A Return to New Year's Resolutions

I've poo-pooed New Year's resolutions for most of my adult life, noting that the gyms tend to be full in January and sparse in February - ie, i never had faith that i'd ever have the willpower to actually commit to superficial statements of intended change. But after seeing the powerful effects of slaying a $55,000 debt ogre in only 9 months thanks to a written budget and goals glaring at me from a (digital) page, i'm beginning to realize the true benefits of word-smith'd dreams. What seems so mundane on the surface belies the underlying secret of such exercises, mainly: organization and focus.

Dan Miller, author of "48 Days to the Work You Love", runs a terrific life and career coaching website at In his latest December newsletter, he has a link to a great outline for 2008 resolutions that models his 7-point wheel factoring all aspects of life balance:

  • Finances

  • Physical Health

  • Personal Development

  • Family Relationships

  • Spiritual Health

  • Social

  • Career

  • I spent some time filling in the outline via Google Docs and came up with the following goals for 2008 (so far):

    1. FINANCIAL Income, Investments

    Five-Year Goals
    Set up substantial kids' college funds
    Be on track to have net worth of $1 million

    One-Year Goals
    Set up $50,000 emergency fund
    Achieve all wishlist budget items

    Beginning TODAY!
    Budget weekly savings of $200 for wishlist items
    Develop better business accountability and profit/loss statements and future plans for real income growth

    2. PHYSICAL Health, Appearance, Exercise

    Five-Year Goals
    Get body fat down to 15%
    Be able to bench 200 pounds

    One-Year Goals
    Lose 5 pounds (get to 140 lbs)
    100 pushups daily
    100 situps daily
    60 pullups daily
    5 mile runs 3x per week

    Beginning TODAY!
    30 minute workouts in the morning


    Five-Year Goals
    Improve Korean, especially reading
    Learn Japanese
    Learn German
    Learn French

    One-Year Goals
    Learn about mutual funds and stock market investing
    Find wholesome books for inspiration and motivation
    Read at least 2 new books per month
    Memorize Japanese characters
    Learn PureData/GEM
    Learn Blender 3D modeling

    Beginning TODAY!
    Learn 2 new Korean words per day
    Maintain list of books read on website

    4. FAMILY Relationships (incomplete...still working on this one)

    Five-Year Goals
    Get closer to family members - be praying for them regularly

    One-Year Goals
    Closer relationship with Mom and Dad
    video interview parents for their history and personal backgrounds

    Beginning TODAY!
    Teach piano lessons to Eric and Timmy more regularly
    Read to boys every day
    spend more time talking with Kyungmi

    5. SPIRITUAL (incomplete here too...)

    Five-Year Goals
    Memorize all of Psalm 119

    One-Year Goals
    Commit 10 psalms to memory
    Finish theology books (Thomas Watson, etc.)

    Beginning TODAY!
    Pray more actively and specifically for church members and missionaries
    Begin memorizing select psalms

    6. SOCIAL Increased number of friends, Community involvement, etc.

    Five-Year Goals

    One-Year Goals
    Connect personally with network contacts at least once this year
    Reconnect with old school alumni
    Prepare Christmas cards and messages ahead of time
    Keep in touch with family on a regular basis

    Beginning TODAY!
    Improve responses to emails and phone calls

    7. CAREER Ambitions, Dreams, Hopes - REALLY INCOMPLETE

    Five-Year Goals

    One-Year Goals

    Beginning TODAY!

    I'll try to update this as soon as i'm able, particularly on the Career section. On the book side, here's a list of what's been read this month:

    Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    Dance with the Dragon by David Hagberg
    Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey
    48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
    QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller

    A lot of personal development literature, as you can probably tell. Several books need finishing, as follows:

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D.

    Several more are on the burner as we speak - the list immediately above has been loaded from my Audible library onto my new 8 gig iPod Nano (Kyungmi's Christmas gift to me - thanks, Honey!)

    Quite a long list...certainly more than daunting at first glance, but hey - if i can chunk away almost $55K in 9 months, i think i can start attacking this list of resolutions, in much the same way: a little bite at a time. I'll keep y'all updated, and hope you'll keep me accountable in return!

    Best wishes for your own New Year's resolutions for 2008!

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    December 25, 07

    A Merry, Musical Christmas

    We had a lovely time at our church's Christmas party the other day, hosted graciously by one of our congregation members with a beautiful 18th century house/estate. The highlight of the evening was the beautiful fellowship from everyone joining voices (and instruments) to sing through Christmas carols from our Trinity Hymnal. To my shame, i was surprised at how many of them i didn't know, and struck at how beautiful these lesser-known works were (lesser-known to me, that is). Here's a sampling of my 'new' discoveries:

    "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" - a 15th century German melody, arranged by Michael Praetorius in 1609. Here's a beautiful rendition by Frederica von Stade, with a Boy's Choir and conductor Andre Previn from "Christmas at Carnegie":

    Here is a haunting rendition of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" by vocalist Cynthia Clawson - Liturgy of St. James, 5th century, adapted by Gerard Moultrie in 1864; the source melody is from 17th century France, and arranged in hymn format by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906:

    Here is a YouTube link to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra's rendition of "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly", a carol based on a traditional Polish melody, and paraphrased by Edith M. G. Reed, ca. 1925:

    Last but certainly not least, here is a beautiful rendition of "Once in David's Royal City" by The Chapel of King's College, Cambridge. Melody by Henry J. Gauntlett in 1849, words by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848.

    There are several other hymns that aren't up on YouTube yet, like "Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning" by Reginald Heber and James P. Harding, and "Saw You Never, in the Twilight" by Cecil Frances Alexander and arranged from a 15th century French melody by Charles Wood.

    Here is a beautiful line from "O Jesus Sweet, O Jesus Mild" by Samuel Scheidt (translated by Mark E. Hunt) and J. S. Bach:

    O Jesus sweet, O Jesus mild,
    your birth the world with hope has filled.
    Your death has ransomed our lost race,
    for on the cross you took our place.
    O Jesus sweet, O Jesus mild.

    A Merry Musical Christmas to all!

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    September 19, 07

    How Lovely Shines the Morning Star

    For many years i've worked on setting psalms and hymn texts to new musical settings for congregational worship. All my arrangements have always been completely copyright-free with no recompense required whatsoever - these have been written with the simple hope that Churches today can find musical material that puts its primary emphasis on the richness of Biblical text and great doctrine in a way that everyday folk can approach. I'm not a composer, so i'm highly self-conscious about making any pretenses in trying to be one given my immense respect for those who have dedicated their artistic lives to honing that craft. Nevertheless, it's a thrill to share this rendition of one of my hymn settings by The Kings Chamber Orchestra, directed by cellist extraordinaire Gerard Le Feuvre! This track will be part of a new album by the orchestra to be released in about 2 months' time. For this recording and similar, seek out the Kings Chamber Orchestra at

    Get your own Flash MP3 Player

    The almost-17th century text by Philipp Nicolai is as follows:

    How Lovely Shines the Morning Star
    Text by Philipp Nicolai, 1599
    Music by Hugh Sung

    1. How love-ly shines the Morn-ing Star!
    The na-tions see and hail a-far
    The light in Ju-dah shi-ning
    Thou, Da-vid's Son of Ja-cob's race,
    My Bride-groom and my King of Grace,
    For Thee my heart is pin-ing.
    Low-ly, Ho-ly,
    Great and glo-rious, Thou vic-tor-ious
    Prince of grac-es,
    Fill-ing all the heav'n-ly plac-es.

    2. Now rich-ly to my wait-ing heart,
    O Thou, my God, deign to im-part
    The grace of love un-dy-ing.
    In Thy blest bod-y let me be,
    E'en as the branch is in the tree,
    Thy life my life sup-ply-ing.
    Sigh-ing, cry-ing,
    For the sav-or Of Thy fav-or;
    Rest-ing nev-er
    Till I rest in Thee for-ev-er.

    3. Thou, might-y Fa-ther, in Thy Son
    Didst love me ere Thou hadst be-gun
    This an-cient world's foun-da-tion.
    Thy Son hath made a friend of me,
    And when in spi-rit Him I see,
    I joy in tri-bu-la-tion.
    What bliss is this!
    He that liv-eth To me giv-eth
    Life for-ev-er;
    Noth-ing me from Him can sev-er.

    If you'd like to have a free copy of the PDF with the piano score and lead sheet, please visit for a list of all my worship song arrangements. You can also download it directly from this link.

    For a list of my psalm arrangements, please visit

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    September 12, 06

    Getting Back to School Part 3: GTD meets Amy Tan's Fingers

    The start of a new school year is much more conducive to new year resolutions than January 1st, at least to me. Despite the fact that i've been working at Curtis now for about 14 years, i'm always looking for new ways to make my job (and life) more effective and efficient. Some years have been better than others - last year was pretty bad, despite my adoption of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" time and stress management methodology.

    Hmmm...perhaps i should rephrase that...

    Thanks to GTD, i was able to more or less survive what surely would've been one of the most punishing work schedules i think i've experienced to date. i think i had a good handle on mastering some of the 'short term' aspects of the GTD productivity mantra, enabling me to get as close to an empty inbox as possible on a day-to-day basis, but i really dropped the ball when it came to overarching long-term goals and projects in a lot of areas...

    And now, with the advent of yet another school year, my mind is wandering to a strange fusion of GTD and...Amy Tan - huh?

    I've just started Amy Tan's novel, "The Bonesetter's Daughter", as an audiobook on my iPod (i LOVE audiobooks - getting through "Master and Commander" at the same time on my Garmin Nuvo GPS computer!). The protagonist - Chinese-American Ruth Young - struggles with her mother slipping into dementia and a deteriorating relationship with her Caucasian lover. Near the beginning of the book, Ruth uses an interesting finger-counting system to mark off her daily "to-do" list...and that got me thinking...

    i had been starting a Mind Map of my daily life - tasks that needed regular daily attention, juxtaposed with some longer term goals that i wanted to set my sights on. As you can imagine, the map is already pretty packed with an insane amount of stuff - no amount of graphic juggling seems to help me put my head around a routine that will circulate through all these things. Then i started thinking about Amy Tan's character, the way she counted off her fingers and toes, giving her a 20-point daily memorization system...could i employ something like that in tangent with David Allen's excellent GTD task filing/productivity system?

    Here's my attempt to map a 10-finger daily to-do list to cover the most important short-term and long-term aspects of my life:

    Left Hand - Morning activities

  • Finger 1: Quiet Time - spending time in prayer and reading God's Word, and helping my kids do the same - Paul and Eric already have this excellent habit ingrained, now i need to help Timmy do likewise

  • Finger 2: Practice Time - this is a new priority, i must confess with great shame. In recent years, i've been literally flying by the seat of my pants, learning repertoire with breakneck speed. That simply cannot continue, especially with the enormous amount of repertoire i see looming this year, already packed with more recitals and concerts this early in the season than i've ever had before...finger 2 is my new priority to get an hour's worth of good practicing every morning before i do anything else following

  • Finger 3: Kid's piano - this finger has yet to get up and running, but i really need to get back to giving the kids their micro lessons...hopefully by the end of this week...

  • Finger 4: Exercise - sigh...another finger that has to awaken from the grave...this week, i promise...

  • Finger 5: Agenda review - too often i've started the day without a clue what was coming up. This will hopefully be my opportunity to prepare for the day, week, and month, especially to take advantage of down-time in the train or car

  • Right Hand - Daytime/Work activities

  • Finger 1: Initial Emails - i'm slowly learning to keep the internet valve shut off until my left hand's activities are done. My regular practice (or addiction) has been to check emails first thing in the morning...then before you know it, i'm swamped with messages, surfing the web for news, trotting from blog to blog...and my whole day is gone! Finger 1 will hopefully keep the initial daytime emails to immediate and emergency responses

  • Finger 2: Recital Review - my job at Curtis is multi-faceted. A large portion is the scheduling of the 100+ student recitals we have each season. It would be good to have a finger to dedicate to reviewing the recital requests and overall schedule integrity on a daily basis, instead of ad hoc whenever i can squeeze it in between my rehearsals and lessons...

  • Finger 3: Gig Review - yet another portion of my job involves the hiring of students for outside gigs and recitals. This always eats up an enormous portion of my day, but it would be helpful to keep this in proper perspective so that it doesn't consume everything else in my schedule

  • Finger 4: Accompaniment Review - just a general-purpose finger here, to make sure i've kept perspective on my own accompaniment duties, as well as the proper assignment of work to my staff pianists and the handling of their various timesheets

  • Finger 5: Closing emails and task review - um, this is to keep that email flow mitigated somewhat. There really is no end to correspondence, just my attempt to make sure that i'm giving the flow 2 points of attention during any given workday - these might be more of my 'proactive' emails, as opposed to the morning 'responses' and 'reactions'...make sense?

  • Left Foot - Late Afternoon/Home time (if i can manage to be home at a reasonable hour...)

  • Toe 1: Kids' homework review - might have to relegate this to phonecalls or a webcam setup if i can't make it home in time (which will be often, once the recitals begin again...), but this toe is critical to keep in touch with my kids' progress...

  • Toe 2: Kids' extra studies - these would be extra-study activities to help keep my kids productive, things like yesterday's typing tutor game, or online math/reading activities, book reading, etc.

  • Toe 3: boy, so many digits! I really have to think of things to fill them with - um, ok - how about, Kids' Exercise? I really should be spending time with the kids, riding bikes with them, taking them to the park, outdoor time, etc.

  • Toe 4: Mom-in-law time - My mother-in-law and i are very close, but i know i take too much advantage of her. I really should use this toe to focus attention on her needs, even if it's just extra grocery shopping or chore management...

  • Toe 5: Wife time - no, not the littlest toe, or the last toe because of priority - mostly because of the order of day, she's usually home late. Wife time wouldn't happen until all the other late afternoon toes were used up anyway, given her schedule...

  • Right Foot - Night Time (boy, i'm really stretching this system...losing track of digits already...)
  • Toe 1: Practice - if time permits, and before the boys go to bed, need to try to squeeze in another hour or so of personal practice time

  • Toe 2: Family Worship - i must confess, this summer made it almost impossible to keep up with this practice. Need to get back on track with our family time of worship, prayer, Bible-reading and study

  • Toe 3: Personal emails - this can cover both traditional emails, as well as responses to messages via social network sites like MySpace and my own blog comments

  • Toe 4: Work follow ups - to keep my inbox at a sane level, i still need an evening follow-up to work-related emails and reports that need to be uploaded to the Curtis website. Sometimes, the quiet evening at home is a better place to concentrate than the disturbance-prone office...

  • Toe 5: Internet work - stuff like articles for this blog, marketing work that i'm doing via MySpace, video podcast/audio podcast production, research - in short, anything related to my personal web-based promotion activities

  • Well now, what an interesting exercise! To be honest, i didn't really know what this finger/toe-based productivity map would look like, but already i'm seeing the rough outlines of a system that - while not comprehensive and certainly not always do-able, given my wildly fluctuating schedule at times - might still give me a good overview of the activities that i want to give priority to in my daily life, and hopefully in better proportion than the haphazard scattering and stuffing into tiny free-pockets-of-time nooks that i tend to do...

    Talking to one of my wife's colleagues the other night, he showed me pictures of a beautiful pedestal desk he was building. This was a project that was already several years in the making - close to completion, but it was his patience and perseverance that really impressed me. The discipline to be able to chip away at something a little at a time each day, or whenever time permitted, instead of cramming it with spasms of unreasonable time blocks really pays off in the long run...a good lesson i hope to learn this year, particularly as it pertains to my own playing and personal life.

    This little piggy went to market...this little piggy stayed home...

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    March 01, 06

    100 Prayers

    Yesterday morning, as i was driving my youngest son to pre-school, he complained that he had "another bad dream". I suggested that we pray and ask God to help him sleep well and take away his bad dreams. I heard a tiny reply, "I don't wanna pray...i don't like praying..."
    "Why not? God made you, He takes care of you, provides everything you need, saves you from sin...He loves you, so shouldn't you be happy that you can pray to Him?"
    "...I don't like praying..."
    Well, by that point, we were driving into the pre-school drop-off curb, so we left it at that.

    This morning, on our way to pre-school, i tried a different approach...
    "Hey, Timmy! Let's thank God for the sunshine!"
    He replied, "Okay!"
    "Dear God, thank You for the sunshine! In Jesus' name, Amen!"
    "Amen!" he chirped.
    "Good! What else can we thank God for?"
    "Ummmm...our home?"
    "Sure, that sounds great! 'Dear God, thank You for our home! In Jesus' name, Amen.' Anything else? How about Mommy?"
    "Yeah! Yeah! 'Dear God, thank You for Mommy. In Jesus' name, Amen.' "
    "Very good, Timmy! What else?"
    "Paul, Eric, and Grandma..."
    (prayers continue, with Timmy taking the lead)
    "Anything else?"
    "Yeah - how about that sign?" (he was pointing to a street sign)
    "Sure - 'Dear God, thank You for the street sign. In Jesus' name, Amen... "
    We thanked God for cars, for computers, for eggs, etc etc etc...I've never heard him chirp out prayers so happily - i think we just found a new morning drive routine! No Trackbacks | Digg this Bookmark this post on Submit this post on Submit this post on Bookmark this post on Google. Bookmark this post on Yahoo. Add this post to Technorati Favorites Add post text to Rojo Add this to Co.mments Add this post to Newsvine Add this post to Scuttle Add this post to Shadows Add this to Simpy Add this to Spurl Add this to Squidoo Add this to Stumbleupon


    Thank you for visiting this site! I hope you'll find this to be a friendly place to learn about and discuss the fascinating technologies available for the Classical Musician. A great place to get started is with the ongoing "Getting Started" series. Remember, the worst questions are the ones you never ask, so feel free to email me!


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