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, 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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Unplug?

I've found the computer very draining lately. It seems like I can't get away from it, and no, the irony of blogging about this does not escape me.

Many years ago, when AOL was first coming out and email was becoming fun and easy, I was wary of computers. This was back when I was an Air Force trombonist and didn't use a computer very often. My girlfriend at the time got me to sign up with AOL, which was fun, but even then, I never got totally into it.

When I left the Air Force and started freelance music engraving. I used the computer for engraving and work correspondence…and games! When I first began looking for music engraving work, my advertising was all by mail, and by the time it became more convenient to advertise online, I didn't need to, because I had established a reputation, and my clients found me. This changed once I put my shingle out as a guitarist and singer. These days, I'm keeping up a ton of email correspondence, maintaining two websites (my own and Tea for Two), keeping up pages on Gig Salad, ReverbNation, and Facebook, keeping up a YouTube channel, and of course, writing this blog. I also continue to use the computer for my music engraving work and as a guitar practice tool using Band in a Box.

It's easy to get burned out on this computer stuff, and it doesn't help that I'm living in a studio apartment, where the computer is right there all the time, in plain view.

Since I started my new music director job, I've noticed a strange thing. Wednesdays are my busiest days by far. I'm practicing and engraving in the morning, taking care of church business in the afternoon, and rehearsing the choir at night. This is a day that should leave me exhausted, but oddly enough, I've found that I feel almost refreshed after a long Wednesday. I don't think it's a coincidence that this is the day I spend most of my time away from the computer.

So, what to do about all this? I have to check emails and maintain an online presence for publicity, and I'm not exactly at a stage in my career when I can hire people to take care of all that. Still, I feel like I need to unplug, at least a little bit. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do it yet, but I need to find a way limit my computer time and simplify things.


  1. Tom,
    Thanks for another thought provoking essay.
    Have you tried setting aside one constant time of day when you are almost always alone and in control of your situation? For example, the first or last hour or half hour of each day? Just a thought.

  2. Maurice, what I'm trying to do is break my day into segments. On a typical day, I'll engrave in the morning, handle church business before lunch, practice in the afternoon, and then evening is for rehearsals or gigs. The trick, I'm finding is to not answer church emails right away, but to wait until the designated hour. If I answer emails all at once instead of as they come, I can stay more focused and on task when I'm practicing or engraving. This is working so far. I still want to unplug further, but this seems to be a good first step.