One of the best perks of being a published composer is getting fan mail. I absolutely love getting feedback from people who have played, conducted, or heard something I wrote. (Funny story: A friend of mine, who is an orchestra teacher, tells me that kids get confused when he says they can contact me because they think all composers are dead.) My e-mail address is readily available with only a little online searching, so I get most of my fan mail online but, occasionally, someone asks for my mailing address and writes out a letter. Some orchestra teachers have even made it an end-of-the year cross-curriculum assignment to write to the composer of a piece they enjoyed playing that year.
Such was the case when I recently received a packet of letters recently. An orchestra in the Chicago area played Westward Motion and seven of the students wrote to tell me about it in some of the most charming hand-written letters. In my favorite of the bunch, a young violist writes:
Thanks for being a composer! I love music and I hope you write another piece.
Do you hear that? That's the sound of my heart breaking.