A few years ago, when I was living in Chicago and engraving music full time, my schedule was simple: Wake up and engrave until noon. Walk to my favorite sandwich shop (every day) and have lunch. Walk home and engrave until 5 or 6. Have dinner. Read a book, watch TV, or play a computer game. Go to bed. Wake up and do it all again. Wednesdays were a little different, because I volunteered at the Old Town School of Folk music in the afternoon, archiving old concerts by transferring them from DAT to CD. I even worked half days most weekends.
It was a predictable, boring existence, but that changed once I started playing the guitar.
At first, the only difference was that I practiced an hour or two a day. Then I started taking lessons and eventually worked up the nerve to start playing in public…in nursing homes and church, then restaurants, coffee shops, and paid gigs. I knew playing the guitar would add variety to my schedule, but I had no idea!
I started playing with the intention of becoming a fancy fingerpicker of American folk and Celtic music. Then I veered off into jazz and started dabbling in other styles with InTown Band. These days, I have to stay on top of a lot of different things at once. This week is a perfect example. I just finished playing Rent, I'm preparing Christmas music with Tea for Two, I'm performing jazz standards at solo show tomorrow, InTown Band plays a three hour show on Saturday, and I'm conducting a church choir on Sunday! So much for becoming a folk music specialist.
I'm putting a lot of things together – music engraving, teaching lessons, performing, and working as a part time church music director. I haven't talked to other musicians about this, but I suspect that most other freelancers are also putting together a lot of different projects to make it all work.
While I enjoy the variety, sometimes I long for more simplicity. I'm not sure I could handle all my current projects indefinitely. What I think is going to happen is that eventually two or three of my projects will outstrip the others. One of my bands may really start to take off, the part time church job may expand, or I may decide to make a stronger effort to recruit a lot of private students. At that point, I would have to make some hard decisions about which projects to keep or drop. Even then, I'll always have enough going on that I'll never be bored again.
- 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.