A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that "My dog died, I didn't get the job, and I walked out of a crappy gig. So why do I feel so good?" After some reflection, I have an answer: freedom. Yes, I feel disappointment and loss, but there's also a sense that new opportunities are just around the corner.
You can read about my bad gig in my post No Mas! I never thought I could be so angry that I would walk out on a gig. I was ticked off the day it happened, but later I felt good about how I reacted to the situation. In a very real way, I demonstrated that I was worth more than this gig had to offer. I've been playing every gig I can possibly find, partially to gain experience, and partially out of fear that if I'm not filling up my calendar, I might not be as attractive to potential clients. I've decided to be choosier about the gigs I accept to make room for better opportunities.
When I didn't get the music director position at UUMAN (click here for details), I felt an odd mixture of disappointment and…relief. I think I would have enjoyed the job. Everyone seemed nice, I had a great experience there, and it seemed tailor made for me. They said they were looking for someone who wasn't in the traditional classical choir conductor mode, who could teach the congregation how to use the Singing the Journey hymn supplement, and could offer a diversity of music, including world music, folk music, and jazz. Well, I demonstrated that I can do all of that, and I've been a classical musician far longer than I've been a jazz guitarist. Nevertheless, they hired the candidate who conducted with a baton, played a Brahms piano piece for his solo, and had the choir sing a traditional Lutheran "Amen" at the end of the service. It seems the UUMAN music search committee chose to stay within its classical comfort zone.
Knowing that UUMAN chose a candidate who was even more classical than the previous music director after expressing their interest in diversity, I feel a sense of relief at not winning the job. Another reason I feel some relief is that I've been a freelancer for a long time. I haven't had a job in nearly 15 years! I would have done a great job, but it would have been a big adjustment to keep a regular schedule. I would have had to give up a few projects to make room for the UUMAN job. As a matter of fact, last night I played a sweet gig that I would have had to forgo for choir rehearsal. The job would have been nice, but now my schedule remains flexible and open to all possibilities.
The third crappy thing that happened this weekend was that my dog, Bear, died. I played a gig Friday night, and he was fine. I came back to find him motionless. He was in his his usual sleeping position, so I can only assume he died peacefully in his sleep. Bear had slowed down a lot over the past several months, so it wasn't a big shock, but it's still an adjustment to not have him around.
Although I miss Bear, at the same time, some new avenues have opened up. For example, I've often thought about cruise ship gigs. I could find a job playing in a combo, or I could be a solo act in a piano bar setting. I'm also an excellent sight reader, which is a job requirement for the cruise ship house bands that play as back-up for big name performers. The only problem was that I would be gone for 1-2 months at a stretch, and I would have had to figure out what to do about Bear. Now that Bear is no longer with me, I'm beginning to research cruise ship gigs. If it turns out that I like playing cruise ships, I can envision playing two months and coming back to Atlanta for a month off, or even playing a couple months and then spending a month traveling around visiting family (mooching).
I've had the sense that big changes are coming for me. I assumed it was the UUMAN job. Since that didn't pan out, it's obviously something else. It may be a cruise job. It may be some other opportunity that comes out of the blue and smacks me upside the head. Whatever it is, I'm not going to just wait around for something to happen. I believe in creating my own luck. It's no coincidence that most of the "lucky" people in the music business are also the hardest working.
- 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.