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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Children and Church Music

Last Sunday, I was at the mercy of a 9 year old drummer, but it was by choice. Because my music director job at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation is only quarter time, I have had to focus mainly on the adults: choir, hymns, and service music, but I feel that it's crucial to get the kids more involved in making music. I asked Emma and Claire (fictitious names) to help me with the first three pieces of music for a Sunday service, and I was also joined by another adult musician, Bruce, on bass.

Claire is a 9 year old drummer, and Emma is a beginning guitar player. I'm guessing she is probably around 12. We rehearsed the week before the service, and then again the day before the service. Both girls impressed me, and they were tons of fun to work with. I went into the first rehearsal with absolutely no idea of what they were able to play. Claire was able to play a few different drum beats, and when I had her focus, she was able to keep a steady beat without rushing – or at least without rushing too much! Emma has been playing a year and a half. She hung with me on the guitar chords. I showed her how to play a B minor chord. Since it was a new chord for her, she had trouble with it the first rehearsal, but she nailed it a week later and during the service.

During our first rehearsal, I commented that the music was coming together even faster than I expected. Claire said "That's because we're fabulous!"

Sunday morning was go time, and they did great! Claire held down the beat, Emma nailed her chords, and the congregation ate it up! I had a big grin on my face the whole time, because I had so much fun playing with them! After they played the third song, they left the service to rejoin their friends, who had already left for children's activities. I saw the girls briefly afterward, and I only had time to thank them and tell them they did a great job. I was told, though, that they had a great time playing, that they were proud of themselves, and that they'd love to do it again. It makes me feel good to know that I helped created a fun, positive musical experience for Emma and Claire.

As I mentioned before, my job is only quarter time, but I hope that I'll be given more hours in the future. That's something the congregation will have to vote on. As it stands now, I only have enough hours to work with the kids occasionally. In the future, I hope that I will have enough hours to start a children's choir and work with these girls and any other kids who also play instruments.

Our music program at NWUUC is gaining strength, and if I have the time to start working with the children on a regular basis, we'll establish an even firmer foundation.

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