About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Famine

A while ago, I described my unusual day job as a freelance music engraver. (See "What the Bleep Is Music Engraving?") One of the perks of being a freelancer is having a flexible schedule. One of the scarier things about being a freelancer is that you experience dry spells. Freelancing is a feast or famine way of life. I just feasted, but now comes the famine.

During the past few months, my two main clients have clobbered me with work. I recently engraved around 25 choral octavos for Santa Barbara Music Publishing and several concert band pieces for the Neil A. Kjos Music Company, including a handful of large, complicated scores. It's been interesting trying to juggle music engraving, practicing, rehearsing, and performing. There are times when I resent music engraving, but then I get a check in the mail and it's all better. It's not that I dislike music engraving; I enjoy it very much. I just like playing guitar and singing more!

The only thing a freelancer hates more than having too much work is having no work at all, and that's where I stand this morning. I go through this every time I run out of projects. Even though I know there will be more work ahead, there is a part of me that wonders if I'll ever work again.

On the bright side, my mornings are now free. I haven't taken a break in a while, so tomorrow I may take some time to see a movie. After that breather, I'll be doing a thousand little things that will eventually lead to more performance opportunities: hunting for gigs, writing more music, reaching out to event planners, finding an agent, and much more. One of my goals is to earn at least as much money from performing as I earn from music engraving, and so I'll be devoting my down time to moving my new performance career forward.


  1. I know how it is, Tom. I'm luckier than most freelance ducks in that I have a steady client. But he doesn't always have the same amt of work for me. I just try to enjoy the down time as best I can... and keep the faith there will be more work! Thanks for the great articles.

  2. Keep up the drum beat. I think you are the hardest working musician I know.