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 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

This is crazy. How did I get here? Tomorrow I'm going to be standing in front of a choir as the latest music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. If things had gone as originally planned, right now I would have either been the band director at a college or a really big high school. Instead, 25 years later, I somehow I wound up a freelance guitarist, music engraver, and brand new music director. Here's the chain of events that have led up to this point.

  1. I entered the University of Illinois one year early, majoring in music education, where I was consistently praised for my teaching and conducting ability by a notoriously difficult teacher. Student teaching was a dream. I was on my way.
  2. After two dismal jobs as a school band director, I realized that I wasn't cut out for public school teaching, or possibly I found myself in two impossible situations. Either way, I gave up my aspirations as a band director and went back to school to study trombone with Elliot Chasanov at Kent State University.
  3. While studying with Elliot at KSU, and again at the University of Illinois, my trombone playing improved immensely. I won an audition and began a performance career in the Air Force.
  4. The Air Force gig started off well. I really enjoyed it. The plan was to put in my 20 years and then seek out a college teaching job. Then I developed an overuse injury that halted my trombone career. Suddenly, the Air Force wasn't quite so fun. So much for that.
  5. While in the Air Force, I learned how to use Finale to prepare printed music. I loved it so much that I decided to become a freelance music engraver. I'm still a freelance music engraver. I'm very good at it, and I'm proud of the work I've done. (1,300 publications and counting!)
  6. After a year of struggle, my freelance music engraving endeavor really began to take off. I had lots of work and was making very good money. I had finally found out what I was going to do with the rest of my life, until my (then) wife gave me a guitar for Christmas!
  7. Learning the guitar rekindled my dreams of being a performing musician again, so I set to learning guitar with a vengeance. (Unfortunately, this had a detrimental effect on my marriage, and that's all I'm going to say about that.)
  8. I started off wanting to play Celtic music and singer/songwriter music similar to David Wilcox or Susan Werner, but then I hooked up with a jazz guitar teacher, and then I got hooked on jazz guitar.
  9. Over the next few years, I was in and out of a few jazz groups, and I started and stopped a few of my own. Eventually I found a balance between my own solo playing, subbing in big bands, and my jazz vocal combo, Tea for Two, which I think is going to be a big winner.
  10. While working on my jazz guitar chops, over the years I also became more and more involved with the music program at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. I never really wanted to start going to church, but I went because my (then) wife wanted to go. She eventually left, but I stayed, and there I remain. I started off singing with the choir, and then I worked up the courage to begin playing guitar for services. I eventually became a substitute conductor as needed, and I served as interim music director three times. This last time, when the job opened up, it seemed like the right time to apply, and tomorrow I'll be standing in front of the choir.
I'm the type of person who likes to plan. Unfortunately, life often seems to have different plans! Maybe it's the improvisatory nature of jazz that has influenced me, but lately I've just decided to let the universe have its way. I still make my plans, but I'm no longer surprised when life takes a detour. For now, I'm equal parts music engraver, performer, and church music director. This finally feels right, like I'm where I'm supposed to be.

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