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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Sometimes, not often, I find my thoughts drifting toward what I don't have. When I notice myself thinking in these negative terms, I can quickly work my way out of it by looking for the silver lining and being grateful for what I have. Here are two examples.

Last night was the NWUUC choir's first rehearsal of 2012. We only had one rehearsal before our first choir Sunday of the year, and I was ready to hit the ground running with a solid rehearsal. It turned out that some of our singers were still out of town, one had a last minute meeting, and one was sick, so the choir was half its normal size. At first, I was disappointed, but my disappointment disappeared once rehearsal was underway. Those who were there sung enthusiastically. We had a terrific rehearsal, we had fun, and we're going to sound good on Sunday. Rather than obsessing about the singers who weren't able to make it, I chose to focus on the singers who were there and give them my all. I love making music with this group. Even though only half the choir was there, I ended rehearsal feeling happy, energized, and ready for Sunday.

If my life had turned out the way I originally planned it, I would be a band director right now at either a large high school or a college, happily married with children, and ensconced in a respectable home. The band director thing fell by the wayside when I discovered that I simply didn't like it! Through a convoluted path, I've ended up living in a basement studio apartment as a divorced freelance musician. Sometimes I catch myself thinking of what could have been, or at the very least, wishing I could afford a bigger place. Lately, something happened that gives me perspective.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Maggiano's to have dinner with friends and listen to another friend, Tom Olsen, play with his jazz trio. It was a pleasant evening, and I left Maggiano's with another entire meal's worth of ravioli. Driving home, I saw a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk next to his shopping cart, surrounded by his stuff, using his fingers to lick the last vestiges of frosting from a plastic tray of cupcakes that he had found in the trash. I stopped the car, got out, and gave him my ravioli and a couple dollars. From the look on his face, you'd have thought I had given him a pot of gold. He cried and thanked me, telling me that I just proved there were still good people in the world.

As I got in my car and drove back home, my studio apartment suddenly seemed like a castle. My small income seemed like a fortune. I may not have the proverbial house and a picket fence, but I have a roof, food, and friends who care about me. In the future, when I find myself wishing I had more, I'll just need to remember that poor homeless man to regain perspective and be grateful for what I have.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, this post really made my day. It's great to be grateful. Thanks for the reminder!!!