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.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Great Choir Rehearsal

I love my part time music director job at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. While I have other responsibilities, the main part of the job is working with the choir. Wednesday night choir rehearsal has become a highlight of my week. You'd think that rehearsing in the evening in the middle of the week would leave me drained, but in fact, I leave most rehearsals feeling energized and uplifted.

Like most church choirs, the singers come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are strong readers and play instruments. Others have less formal backgrounds. For some, this is their first choral experience. Regardless of our individual backgrounds, we share a common love of music and a joy in singing with others.

Last Wednesday's rehearsal was amazing. The choir does very well with lyrical, flowing music, but they are sometimes challenged by more rhythmic, offbeat pieces. We were working on a piece called Look Up, Way Down. It has a lot of syncopated, offbeat rhythms. To me, it didn't look too tricky, because I play those rhythms all the time as a jazz musician, but the choir struggled. Last Wednesday was the final rehearsal before we were scheduled to sing this piece on Sunday, and so our goal was to sing the rhythms correctly by the end of rehearsal.

I rehearsed the choir thoroughly, section by section. As we continued working out the kinks, I felt the choir's confidence growing minute by minute. When we started rehearsing the piece, the choir was timid and ragged. Gradually, the piece came together. More importantly, they began to really feel the music. You can perform the notes and rhythms perfectly, but without style, it just sounds robotic. They were starting to sing with energy and soul! At the end of our rehearsal, we stood up and sang it all the way through. They were great! It literally sounded like a different choir. It was truly amazing to hear the choir transform over the course of a single rehearsal.

I drove home from that particular rehearsal buzzing with enthusiasm. There was no one in the car to talk to, but that didn't stop me. "THAT was a great rehearsal," I informed the steering wheel. On the way home, I also relayed this same information to the mirror and the radio.

At the end of rehearsal, the look on everyone's face was priceless. Their expressions seemed to say, "Did we really just do that?" Yes, you did, and you sang it just as well on Sunday.

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