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Tom Godfrey

In sixth grade, we were given an assignment: write an essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most of my essay centered around my professional skateboarding ambitions. At the end, I added that I also liked playing in band, and that if I couldn't make a living on a skateboard, maybe I would be a band director or trombone player. The skateboarding thing never worked out, so I've been relying on my musical back-up plan for the past 40+ years.

True to my essay, I became a school band director and then a professional trombone player, playing for acts that included George Burns, Rosemary Clooney, and the Manhattan Transfer. I played in an Air Force band for four years. Guitar came later. While I was in the Air Force, a lip injury brought my trombone career to a screeching halt. At a loss for what to do, I became a music engraver, typesetting music for a variety of publishers. I enjoy music engraving, and I'm very good at it, but I missed performing.

A few years after leaving the Air Force, I received a guitar for Christmas. I was hooked. Even while struggling with my first chords and building callouses, I knew I would perform again. My professional background allowed me to learn quickly, and I began playing professionally after three years of intense practice.

Most of my guitar playing experience was in Atlanta, where I lived for fourteen years. At first, I mostly played instrumentals, but I noticed that the tip jar filled up faster when I added vocals, so I also became a singer. I played big band music with the Sentimental Journey Orchestra, musicals with Act3 Productions, and countless background gigs – what I like to think of as wallpaper music. I served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where I led the choir and founded a contemporary band. I most enjoyed performing as half of the jazz voice/guitar duo Godfrey and Guy.

Through my Atlanta years, I taught guitar lessons. A handful of students grew into to a full roster with a waiting list. I love so many things about teaching: connecting with students, helping someone discover a talent, learning from my students, and being an important adult in a young life.

I enjoyed the busy performance schedule and a full roster of students in Atlanta, but I despised the traffic. I moved to Albuquerque in 2018, trading gridlock for a gorgeous landscape. Here in Albuquerque, I continue to teach private guitar lessons in person, in an after-school program, and online. When I'm not holding a guitar, you can usually find me on a Sandia Mountain hiking trail.