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.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stages of Learning

I'm currently learning the 1st Guitar book for Rent (School Edition), which I'll be performing with Act3 Productions in early November. When I played trombone, it didn't take long to learn my parts for an opera or a musical. I could usually play the music at sight, and then it was just a matter of learning the cues so I didn't have to count hundreds of measures of rests between entrances. I've found that learning a guitar book for a musical is a lot more involved. First of all, I'm not as good a guitar player as I was a trombone player (yet!), and second, the guitar plays almost constantly, so there's a lot more music to learn. There are specific stages I go through when it's time to tackle the guitar book for another musical.
  1. Disbelief. I receive the book in the mail, peruse it, and wonder how I could possibly learn that much music.
  2. Despair. Playing through the book for the first time, I conclude that the music is impossible.
  3. Denial. I put the book away for a few weeks.
  4. Acceptance. Looking at my calendar, I realize I'm going to have to learn the book sometime, so I dig it out and start learning the part.
  5. Hope. On the second reading, I realize that I can already play most of the music, and that the rest of the music is difficult but not beyond reach.
  6. Enlightenment. I listen to the soundtrack for the first time and realize "Oh, so that's how it's supposed to sound."
  7. Diligence. I practice the book almost every day and make steady progress.
  8. Mastery. A couple weeks before the show, I can finally play everything at performance tempo and keep up with the soundtrack.
  9. Panic. The first rehearsal is in three days. I redouble my efforts.
  10. Arrogance. I start thinking I sound good.
  11. Disillusionment. At the first rehearsal, I realize I don't sound as good as I thought I did. It's always different playing with a live orchestra.
  12. Elation. I make adjustments, and I'm happy with my playing again.
  13. Disappointment. The tricky section I've spent so much time practicing gets cut.
  14. Panic returns. Opening night.
  15. Joy. Opening night is over. It's smooth sailing from here. I kick back, enjoy the show, and repeat the pit player's mantra, "Don't mess up."
  16. Relief. Closing night. The show's over, and thank goodness I don't have to play that book again for a while.
I'm currently at Stage 7: Diligence. My first rehearsal with the cast is in about 8 weeks, so I'm way ahead of the curve on this one. Opening night is November 4.

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