As I continue jazz guitar lessons with Charles Williams, I realize I have a long way to go, but at the same time, I feel encouraged.
On the one hand, I have a lot of work ahead of me transcribing famous solos, learning licks, and broadening my knowledge of music theory. At the same time, I have to learn to incorporate all this into my own jazz vocabulary. This will take years of practice.
On the other hand, I sound good now, and each new concept I'm learning will only help me sound better. What's most encouraging is that every new thing I'm learning makes sense. It's all just an extension of concepts I'm already familiar with. This is comforting to me, because it's a sign that I've been on the right path all along. So far, there's never been a moment in a lesson where I've felt like I've had to start learning the guitar all over again. It's more like I'm on the same road Charles is on. He just happens to have traveled the path longer than I have, and he's helping me out with directions.
For current and prospective students, fear not! I've been giving you good information. The fact is, no matter how good you are, there's always something more to learn. That's the beauty (and frustration) of being a musician.
- 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.