I'm a perfectionist. I can easily spend 30 minutes practicing a short phrase. I proofread my emails, and I cringe if I spot a typo after sending a text. Don't even get me started on the misuse of the apostrophe with plurals.
Until recently, I've let my perfectionism get in the way of enjoying my work as a choir director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. In my head, I have an ideal of how I would like the music to sound, which is difficult to achieve with a small, amateur choir. You have varying degrees of musical experience, and attendance can fluctuate from week to week, making it difficult to build on previous rehearsals. This used to bother me, but it doesn't anymore.
I've discovered that perfectionism is my way of trying to control things. As a music engraver, this works pretty well. As a choir director? Not so much. As soon as you add one more person to any equation, there are certain things you're never going to be able to control.
Most of my Sunday morning rehearsals are relaxed. I rehearse my choir thoroughly on Wednesdays, and Sunday morning is simply a time to review the music and put my choir in a good frame of mind. When the service begins and it's showtime, my choir always comes through. They put in the work on Wednesdays, and they shine on Sundays.
By its very nature, live music is never perfect, but when my choir sings on Sunday mornings, it's perfect enough.
- 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.