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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jamming with Students

This Sunday, one of my students, Grace, will be attending her first jam session. Aside from playing with me, she hasn't had any experience playing with other people. This is going to be a great learning experience for her. She'll be exposed to different genres of music, and she'll hear different styles of guitar players. She hasn't heard me play a lot of jazz, so that'll be a new thing for her. She'll also get to hear other good soloists and plenty of fingerpickers. Nearly half the musicians at this jam session are women, so I think Grace will also be inspired by hearing so many other strong female musicians.

Because this is Grace's first jam session, we've been working pretty intensely on handful of songs for her to play. Each song has a little challenge for her: a new fingerpicking pattern, a challenging intro, a new chord, and a new strumming pattern. She's met the challenge in each song, and she's ready for the jam session.

Grace is playing Summertime especially well. As a matter of fact, for the past couple weeks, she's been playing it so smoothly that I lose myself in the music and forget that she's a student. It's a real pleasure to work with a student who practices everything I assign, even the repetitive scale exercises, and it's paying off. She's only been playing a couple years, but she is beginning to develop a fretboard knowledge that is deeper than that of many older guitarists. This familiarity with the fretboard will pay off big time as her knowledge grows. It's one thing to mimic licks or use TAB to "paint by numbers." It's another thing to know exactly what you're playing and why it works.

I wish I could peek 10 or 20 years into the future and hear Grace play. I think she's going to be amazing. For now, I'm happy to jam with her in lessons and help her along in her journey.

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