- 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 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Here are my goals for 2011.
1) Arrange at least 15 Christmas songs for solo guitar, and arrange at least 5 Beatles songs for solo guitar.
I'm pretty good at faking my way through Christmas music, but I'd like to build a repertoire of well written holiday arrangements. I love Beatles songs, but I just haven't gotten around to arranging any of them for solo guitar, so it's time add a few to my repertoire.
2) Recruit 20 private guitar students.
I recently began recruiting guitar students, focusing on beginners of all styles and intermediates who want to explore jazz guitar. I already have four students lined up in January, and I'm confident I'll be meet my goal of 20 students in 6-8 months. For now, I'm traveling to each student's home to teach. If I reach 20 students and it seems there's still a high demand, I'll consider teaching from a studio or store.
3) Record a solo album.
I'm often asked if I have a CD for sale, and I unfortunately have to keep saying no. InTown Band, my originals group, has a CD for sale, but I don't have a solo album. I haven't decided yet if it'll be totally solo or if I'll hire some back-up. I do know it'll be a mix of jazz standards and original music.
4) Record backing tracks for Christmas songs, jazz standards, and original instrumentals.
I haven't put a number on this goal, because I'm still learning how to use the recording software. Eventually, I'll come up with a system and be able to crank out backing tracks efficiently. The backing tracks will be for long solo gigs. Playing solo guitar for 2, 3, or even 4 hours can really wear down your hands. Backing tracks will allow me to play a lot of single line melodies to give my left hand a rest. It's always preferable to play with a group of people, but not every client is willing to shell out the money to hire a full band.
5) Write 20 original instrumentals.
I slacked off this year in the writing department, and I plan to write more original music in 2011. I'm not so great at coming up with lyrics, but I have a knack for writing strong melodies with interesting yet accessible chord changes. In 2011, I'll focus on writing lots of instrumentals, and I'll present the voice-friendly ones to InTown Band for lyric ideas.
6) Memorize 50 vocals.
My classical training makes me a very strong reader, particularly for a guitarist. The downside is that I tend to rely on my reading too much when I'm performing as a soloist. As a result, I stare at the music and avoid eye contact with the audience. It's time to wean myself away from the written music and start connecting more with the people who are listening.
7) Get comfortable standing and playing.
I'll always prefer to sit and play guitar, but the simple act of standing automatically enhances my stage presence. Before I lost weight, I was very uncomfortable standing and playing. Now that I've lost 115 pounds (and counting), standing and playing has become a little easier. I have less weight to carry, and even the position of my guitar has changed to a more comfortable position as my tummy has lessened.
8) Write an "improvised" chorus for at least 5 songs I've already arranged.
If I write out a chorus for an arrangement, it's obviously not improvised. One of the main skills I'm developing is improvising completely solo. It's pretty easy to improvise on guitar when you have back-up, but it's quite a challenge when you're playing all by your lonesome. When I practice sight-reading out of a Real Book, I'll often improvise over the chords. This has improved my improv quite a bit. By writing out "improvised" choruses, I'll essentially be writing out exercises for myself, coming up with new licks and deepening my understanding of the guitar. I may never reach the level of a Joe Pass, but I'd like to be able to improvise a chorus or two without back-up.
9) Weigh 200 pounds, max.
I'm almost there now. On April 11, 2011, I weighed 323 pounds. Today I weigh 208, and I'll reach 200 sometime in January. I've been running quite a bit, with plans to eventually complete a marathon, so I'll most likely end up in the 185-190 pound range, which is heavy for a distance runner, but light for a guy who is 6'2" and has a large frame. I never want to weigh more than 200 pounds ever again.
10) Complete two half marathons.
I've signed up for a half marathon in March, and there are two Atlanta half marathons in the fall that I'm aware of. I'm happy with the way my running has progressed, and I'm confident that I'll be able to complete a couple half marathons with no major problems. If the half marathons feel comfortable, I'll be looking at running a full marathon in 2012.
So those are my goals for 2011. There's still a week left in 2010. I think I'll get a head start on those backing tracks.