Even as an artist, hoping to sell my music, I - like you - search this site and read the various text, specific to each artist who has music here. In typical fashion, albeit I'm a tad embarrassed to be the purveyor of others' kind praises, I nonetheless do hereby insert the following "plugs," not the shameless kind, mind you, but rather the sincerely offered ones that lend credibility and dignity (I'll take a heaping helping of both, thank you) whether I feel I'm deserving of them or not...
From Menuthia Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah:
"I have always enjoyed it when Todd accompanies a singer at church. His playing always adds real depth to the vocalist's choice of song and he's always completely in sync with them rhythmically and emotionally."
From Beth-Ann Masterson, Salt Lake City, Utah:
"Because of its complexity, which I like very much, I discover something new every time I listen to one of Todd's pieces."
OK, that's enough of that.
Let me share a few notes (the non-musical type) about myself:
Bedtime always came a bit too early for me and my sisters when we were children; however, after the "tucking in" was complete, our under-the-cover fidgeting gave way to a quiet restfulness as our mother would sit down and play the theme from "The Apartment" on our old Brinkerhoff player piano - an upright "beast" of an instrument. A few of its keys were missing their pearly white coverings, its frame was badly dinged and it was horribly out-of-tune, but its value to me at that time - and even more so now - rivaled that of a Stradivarius as its tinny sound would flow into our bedroom and lull my sisters to sleep. Its effects on me were much more profound, however, as I'd lay (or, to appease the conformists of perfect grammaticalness, is it "lie") awake and absorb every nuance of sound. Through the intense pleasure of listening, I became musically discerning at an early age and my own ideas for melody, chord structure and rhythm began to blossom.
I'm a self-taught composer/pianist for the most part. My mother taught me the fundamentals of piano-playing when I was young; however, she was a self-taught pianist herself and could only advance me to a certain level. She encouraged me to take lessons from the neighborhood teachers and though I made several attempts to progress beyond a mere dabbling, a strong tendency toward laziness thwarted what could have been a complete metamorphosis into a state of consistency and complete musical proficiency. For that matter, I never did anything consistently or proficiently. One could reasonably deduce, based on the evidence, that I might have dried up as a chrysalis, never having ventured from my enclosed casing to spread my wings and soar as a butterfly (a corny metaphor goes a long way). But certain events transpired to repudiate any and all metaphors which suggest a transformation isn't possible.
As a teenager I was highly disciplined in three areas: watching television, over-eating and skipping school. To my credit, I did spend time at the piano composing - honorable indeed, but too sporadic an endeavor to counteract the effects of the more slothful behavior. Had I had the marketing prowess of an unethical businessman, I would have "turned a buck" by being the poster boy for underachievers. As it were, merely applying myself to high school subjects which could/would have been precursors to a four-year collegiate experience, in turn being a precursor to a fabulously lucrative career wasn't in the least bit a foreseeable possibility. Well...I still don't have a four-year college degree and I don't have a career which pays oodles of money, but I did finish high school. I'll tell you why:
Two very wonderful people, Ms. Vincent and Mr. Dalton, whom I love dearly, believed in me more than I believed in myself. They set the stage - literally - for an opportunity which changed the course of my life. Had it not been for their intervention, I would have been a drop-out, I'm certain. They strongly encouraged me - lovingly forced me, in fact - to involve myself in a high school play - Brigadoon. I was extremely reluctant at first, mostly because of the stigma attached to "theater people," but quickly learned that stereotyping anyone was counter-productive to my own happiness, especially since those "theater people" became my dearest friends.
I played the part of Harry Beaton and did a little jig on stage, which was fun and well-received by the audience, but what excited me most, kept me truly and anxiously engaged, and kept me in school, was playing the piano score for the rehearsals. It didn't come easy. By the age of seventeen I was a fairly good pianist and loved to sight-read music, but for the first time in my life I was forced to practice diligently since a portion of the score was beyond my ability to play. I applied myself accordingly and, after much complaining from my family, especially my brothers, who needed the piano bench to set up their hot-wheels, was able to play through the entire score with veritable ease.
When I joined the Air Force, access to pianos was very limited; besides, I developed an interest in racing bicycles and spent every off-duty moment racing around northern Florida. On occasion, the bishop would ask me to play for sacrament meeting and I served as the accompanist for the ward choir, but I was basically back to dabbling musically.
Upon my return to civilian life I started composing again and experienced a small taste of success when the Piano Disc Company purchased one of my two-piano pieces (The Tandem Bicycle, currently on my CD, Todd Bennion). To this day, I don't know if it has ever been used on their system. I was paid a small fee. Shortly thereafter, my friend, Margaret, intent to win a chance to be co-host for a day on Hour Magazine, a talk show hosted by Gary Collins, asked me to write some music for her submission (Spread Your Wings - the instrumental version is on my current CD). She didn't win, but the song was the only one played twice and it got an honorable mention. I was really "tickled" to hear my music on television.
I'm still just a musical "dabbler," but feel hopeful that the possibility to actually make money as a composer is real. I no longer want to be an over-the-road, long-haul truck driver. A combination of geophysical surveying (another passion) and composing would bring a wonderful balance to my life.
Fame isn't something that interests me. Though I shy away from the limelight, I do enjoy performing on occasion, especially if I'm accompanying other musicians. The creative phase of music-making is what I enjoy most.
This particular digital venue is a real blessing. It's great to be an independent musician and have a place where people can listen to my music which might never be heard elsewhere.
I spent several hours one evening listening to other artists' music on CDBaby, particularly those with music in the same genres as my own. It would be easy for a defeatist attitude to overwhelm my sensibilities as I'm prone to compare myself against these amazingly talented people, but I take comfort in the fact that the variety and differences can actually be an advantage, so I won't "throw in the towel" just yet. C'mon now...am I the only insecure musician with music available on this site?
Though I make no apologies for my lack of education, fancy credentials or pedigrees (I'm proud of what I've done on my own), my heart goes out to young musicians struggling to make the right decisions.
I don't presume to be an expert at anything and I'm fairly open-minded, but I was raised to believe that there are always two schools of thought on any issue. As regards musical education versus "doing it on your own," I have two thoughts for young musicians seeking musical success: 1. Go to school! 2. Go to school! I sorely regret not being classically trained as a pianist and regret not having been formally tutored in music theory. The old adage, "hindsight is always 20/20" may be trite, but there is always great wisdom in retrospection, even when it's in the form of a hind-sighted person trying to hedge the same unproductive path a younger person chooses to travel with blinders on. I'm still trying to prevent this epitaph from being placed on my headstone: "I shoulda, coulda, woulda!"
If you're still in the mood to indulge, please let me share a few notes (the musical type) about some of the tracks on my CD...
If Only I Had Wings:
I wrote If Only I Had Wings on a day when I was feeling somewhat wistful. I desperately needed the ability to escape the confines of gravity and responsibility. Of all God's creatures, birds seem to have the most freedom. They're certainly the most mobile; they're elusive by nature; and they're great musicians endowed with perfect pitch. To sing while soaring above by clouds would be a perfect existence. I wonder...do they really sing when soaring?
Not So Far Away:
This is an instrumental version of a song which originally had lyrics by Margaret Budge; she sang it at her uncle's funeral in Logan, Utah.
The Tandem Bicycle:
This one is near and dear to my heart. I love writing for two pianos and I love bicycles; I needed to creatively combine the two passions. I've had all kinds of bikes throughout the years. Two pianos represent two riders, working together to climb to the summit on US 89 from Garden City, Utah (next to beautiful Bear Lake) to Logan, Utah (nestled in the beautiful Cache Valley). I pedaled to the top of the mountain nearly every day when I lived there. It took me about an hour to get to the top and less than 10 minutes to get home! There are some great mountain-biking trails in the area as well.
Spread Your Wings:
I wrote this for a young friend (he was about ten years of age at the time) who courageously defeated leukemia. This is an instrumental version of song which had lyrics; it was sung by Mark, a local studio owner who helped me with many of my musical projects.
The Stocking Exchange:
I have a truly wonderful group of friends in Logan, Utah. Each year, the group gets together twice during the yuletide season. We pull names from a hat at the first festive gathering to discover who we bestow gifts upon; we then design and decorate our personal Christmas stockings which are then stuffed before the second gathering by our devoted planners (usually Sheri and Jane). It's a fun time. This song was a "stocking stuffer" for Donna.
You Make Me So Angry:
Pure and simple...I just needed to vent!
Alexandria is my beautiful niece. I wrote this for her.
The Temple Dance:
I wrote this for a couple who married in the Logan temple.
Adam is my athletically and musically talented nephew. I wrote this for him.
I'm So Confused:
Being in a state of "flux" seems to be the bane of my existence!
1. If Only I Had Wings
2. Not So Far Away
3. The Tandem Bicycle
4. Spread Your Wings
5. The Stocking Exchange
6. You Make Me So Angry!
8. The Temple Dance
10. I'm So Confused!