- 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 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
If I have a relatively free day, I'll take my own sweet time on all my practice material. I may practice a particular song or exercise for 20-30 minutes before moving on to something else. By the time I get to the last couple items on my agenda, I'm mentally drained, and I end up going through the motions. Now, I enjoy these marathon sessions when I have the luxury of time, but there's something to be said for shorter sessions as well.
On the other hand, sometimes it seems like I can get just as much done in a short, focused practice session. If I know that I can only squeeze in a few minutes here and there throughout the day, then I'm going to make sure each 10-20 minute practice session counts. If I only have 10 minutes, I may spend those 10 minutes on a single solo transcription. I may even spend that time working on just 8-16 bars, focusing mostly on the most difficult measures.
I've been pleasantly surprised by how much progress I can make when I practice in short bursts like this. I first noticed this when my teaching load began to increase. I like to schedule lessons with 10-15 minutes between students. Waiting for the next student, and with nothing else to do, I would practice a song, exercise, or a scale until the next student arrived. When it was time for my big "official" practice session, I realized that I had already practiced most of what needed work, and that I had improved significantly.
I'm going to begin practicing in short, focuses mini-sessions, even when I have a big block of time. I think a good approach will be to start with 20 minutes of technique, and then take a break to do something else. Then come back to the guitar and focus on a single song or exercise for 10-15 minutes, take a break to do something else, etc. This is all a big experiment, but I think this approach will help me come to each to mini-session fresh and focused.