My music engraving work has been scarce recently. This happens. It's part of being a freelancer. I'll have another couple projects coming my way soon, but aside from that, I have no music engraving work. Summer is always hard. I'm pretty sure that my clients conspire. They'll hold off sending me any projects for a few months, and then suddenly I'll receive a dozen concert band pieces, twenty choral octavos, and a symphony in the same week. I'm not exaggerating. This has happened.
Since the music engraving has dried up for now, I have a lot of extra time on my hands. This is an opportunity to take steps to enhance my performing career. None of these new projects are likely to land me gigs this week. I'm planting seeds, and I'm confident they'll bear fruit in a few months.
Last week I attended a business networking seminar hosted by Elite Events. I'm still trying to process all the information they gave us. As a result of that seminar, I made improvements to my website, learned more about advertising, and met several other people who are also trying to tap into the wedding market. I've spent the past few days following up on the contacts I've made. I would love for them to all hire or refer me this very moment, but it doesn't work that way. Instead, I'm simply trying to establish and maintain friendly relations. I'm planting seeds, and the gigs will come later.
Starting June 23, I'll be playing Wednesday nights at Rotagilla Creole Cafe in Tucker. This is a free gig, but I can opt out any time I find something better. I'll be using this as an opportunity to improve my people skills – connecting with the customers through banter, song selection, and simple eye contact. As a classical trombone player, it was sacrilegious to speak to the audience when I was sitting in the back of a band or orchestra. In my new incarnation as a jazz guitarist, I want to be more open and inviting, and this little Rotagilla gig is just what I need right now.
Another way I'm planting seeds is by learning how to use recording software to create backing tracks for myself. I prefer playing with a band, but in order to make myself more marketable, I'm creating backing tracks to sing or play with. There's also something very cool about carrying an entire "band" in your iPod. The disadvantage of creating my own tracks is that it takes a lot of time. The advantages are many. It costs less. I have total control over each recording. I'm not stuck with just one version of a backing track. I can edit any track as I see fit, and later on, when I'm better at using the software, I'll be able to arrange my backing tracks in ways that I can't even conceive right now. This project will take a long time. Again, I'm planting seeds. Having a library of backing tracks will make me attractive to some potential clients, and it'll also allow me to play for three or four hours at a time even if I happen to be experiencing voice problems. Having the ability to create custom backing tracks will also make me more attractive to potential wedding clients with specific song requests.
I have so many projects going on right now. I sometimes wonder how long I can keep up this juggling act. I feel that all this work is well worth the time, and that I'm stumbling in the right direction!
- Tom Godfrey
- 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.