Zen Tea. It was a casual Sunday afternoon session, open to musicians of all levels. We went around the circle, taking turns leading songs. Most of the songs were of the folk variety. I would usually lead an accessible jazz song. Some brought in their own original songs. The jam session is no longer being held, but I discovered today that it had a lasting effect on at least one person.
Early in the short history of the Zen Tea Jam, a trumpet player showed up a couple times. Then he stopped coming. He always seemed to have a conflict. I didn't think anything of it and assumed that he had lost interest.
That trumpet player called me today, asking for some music theory help. It turns out that, even though he wasn't able to participate in the jam session, his love for music was reignited, and he decided to get back to playing trumpet regularly. He is joining a band. He told me that some of his friends used to play in their school jazz band or concert band. They talk about how much they miss it, but they don't pick up their instruments. I was genuinely pleased for him. I congratulated him, telling him that a lot of people miss playing an instrument, but they don't do anything about it. He, on the other hand, is picking up his horn and joining a band.
This trumpet player was inspired to get back into playing. That would be beautiful enough, but I like to think that his example will inspire some of his friends to start playing again. Maybe their children will be encouraged to pick up an instrument. Maybe this short lived jam session had a ripple effect. I hope so.
- 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.