When times are tough, I'm often guilty of that useless mind game "if I could travel back in time, what would I do differently?" Part of that fantasy involves investing in Microsoft. I would have stuck with piano lessons. Also, in hindsight, there are a couple girls that probably would have gone out with me, but I was just too scared to ask them out at the time. Alas, I'm still hopelessly shy in this area.
Most of my back to the future fantasies involve music…starting guitar at age 9 instead of 39 for example. Another one is my choice of college majors. I can't imagine being anything other than a musician. I would still have majored in music, but I often think that I would have enjoyed being a choral music education major so that I could go on to lead choirs. It came in a roundabout way, but it appears that, with my new job, my wish to conduct choirs has been granted.
In a recent blog article, I wrote about being hired as music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. So far, I'm loving the job. One of my main responsibilities is leading the choir. When I first took the job, I had a minor case of buyer's remorse stemming from nervousness about making a major change in my life. Having sung with this choir, and having served as interim music director three times, the choir members were already familiar with me. Not that I was expecting a rebellion, but I wasn't sure how the choir would react to the difference between "interim substitute" Tom and the "in charge" Tom. In our first choir rehearsal, I made myself clear about how I like to work. They've gone along with me, and so far, working with the choir has been a dream. Rehearsals have gone smoothly. The choir season is off to a good start, and I'm looking forward to making great music with them for many years to come.
Of course I won't love every single rehearsal, and I won't love every aspect of the music director position. Not everyone in the congregation will be 100% pleased with the direction I have planned. I will run into hurdles. I will have setbacks. I will make mistakes. Worst case scenario, I may have to be on a committee. Overall, though, I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and I'm pleased my secret wish to work with a choir has been granted.
- 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.