December is awkward for me. When someone asks about my Christmas plans, I tell them that I'm not doing anything. After a brief silence, the other person doesn't quite know what to say, and even worse, they may invite me to their house for Christmas. I don't celebrate Christmas or any of the other major holidays that cluster around this time of year. I've regretted the few times that I've taken someone up on their offer to spend a Christmas day with them. After about 30 minutes of sitting around trying to act festive, I begin thinking about all the guitar practice time I'm missing. I'm no Grinch. I don't want to ruin anyone else's Christmas, and I'm happy for those who love the holidays. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year's Day – to me, these are all regular days. While I don't celebrate these holidays, I very much look forward to the time between Christmas and New Year's Day.
"Grand Pause" is a musical term. Written over a rest, a "G.P" indicates that all the musicians stop playing at once.
I like to think of the week between Christmas and New Year's Day as a Grand Pause. Work is often on hold. People are traveling or staying home and resting. I love this week. Lessons are canceled, no rehearsals are scheduled, and gigs are sparse. For this one glorious week, my calendar is blank.
I'm filling my own Grand Pause with projects. I've been practicing Christmas music for a month, and now it's time to brush up on my regular repertoire again. I'm arranging music for a January performance. I've started writing a guitar method book. This is all time consuming, but with the Grand Pause and a clear calendar, I still have plenty of time for movies, naps, and books. By the end of this week, I'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the coming year.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a time for your own Grand Pause before everything starts up again.
- 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.