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, 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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Next 10 Years

I started playing guitar 10 years ago. To make a long story short, I was a professional trombonist until an overuse injury ended my brass playing career. After a hiatus from any kind of performing, my wife (now my ex) gave me a guitar for Christmas, and I was immediately hooked. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new career as a guitarist. I originally intended to play folk and Celtic music, but I drifted toward jazz, which is my main focus.

When I decided I was going to become a professional guitarist, I drew up a list of goals for the first 10 years. My overall goal was to become an "entry level" professional. To me, this meant attaining a skill level that was high enough that I could do a good job at gigs. It also meant that, while I wouldn't necessarily be the first call player in Atlanta, I would develop enough connections to keep me gigging on a fairly regular basis.

I'm rarely satisfied with my playing, but I would like to pause for a moment and be grateful that I met my 10 year goal. I'm not a world beater on guitar, but I'm pretty good. I sight-read extremely well. I gig steadily.

Okay, the moment is over, and it's time to look at the next 10 years. This is my overall goal: To become a well established freelance musician making a comfortable living as a performer, teacher, and church musician.

That's a pretty broad goal. Maybe it's more of a mission statement, but it can be broken down into several goals. To be a well established performer implies an increasingly higher level of musicianship, so the most important goals to me are in the area of musical development.

These are my goals for 2024:
  • Play an average of 2-3 good paying gigs per week.
  • Maintain a roster of 30 students.
  • Increase the NWUUC Music Director job to 20 hours per week.
  • Memorize 100+ jazz standards.
  • Comfortably improvise guitar solos in the style of Joe Pass.
  • Become a good scat singer.
  • Become a competent piano player.
  • Become a competent ukulele player.
  • Be financially stable enough to take 1-2 yearly vacations.
  • Live in a rented house, big enough for a studio space, in a quiet, safe neighborhood.
  • Comfortably maintain a healthy weight of 190-200 pounds.

Having all these goals without devising a way to meet them is no good. I've broken each of these goals down into separate steps, but I won't include them here, otherwise, this would be a really, really long article. I'll break down a few choice goals into steps in future articles.

Getting this far was a blast. It was 10 years well spent. Time to get busy and make the next 10 years even better.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,
    You are truly an admirable person. I am proud of you for what you have accomplished, and it is an honor to know you.
    I wish you well on your continued journey. I know you are diligent. Remember to be gentle with yourself when that is appropriate too.