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, February 27, 2014

More Than Chords

Lately, I've come to realize that I am more than just a guitar teacher to some of my students, particularly the youngsters.

Last Saturday, a 9 year old stopped in the middle of his lesson and asked, "Have you ever had a friend you went to school with, and then he went to another school, and now it feels like you hardly know him anymore, like he's different?" That sure made me pause! I literally thought to myself, "What would Mister Rogers say?" We talked about it for a little bit before picking up our guitars again.

Thinking about this student led me to reflect on other young students. A 7 year old girl draws guitar pictures for me, one of which is currently stuck on my fridge. An 8 year old boy always moves his chair close to mine and constantly touches my leg with his foot, like I'm some sort of totem. Next week, I'm going to come to a 6 year old student's school to help him play part of Ebony and Ivory for a class presentation on race. His mom told me that he is super excited about this.

Maybe some students open up like this because their guitar lesson is a safe place. I'm about as non-threatening a teacher as you'll ever find – picky about the music, but friendly and encouraging. Their 30 minutes with me is separate from the rest of the world. It's something that their friends don't do, and often there is no parent around. Maybe they feel like they can say things in their guitar lesson that they may not be able to say at other times.

I have to be mindful of my influence as a teacher and an adult figure. I thought I was just teaching chords and music reading, but something else has been going on.

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