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.

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.