Portrait of a church musician as a young man, Part 1

Abe from atlblogs.com asked me a few questions in a comment a few days ago that pertained to my background in music and my goals for the future. Because I think this information would help put a lot of my thoughts into a proper context, I would like to address these questions in a full entry. Forgive me if it seems overly narcissistic, but then what blogg isn’t?

what is your musical background?
hmmmm . . .I will skip playing the recorder in fifth grade, sofedge, and my brief experience with the ukulele. I started playing a borrowed guitar (Thank you Santo Garafalo) when I was 12 years old. My dad gave me my first lessons which involved Melbay book one and learning Beatles songs. After about a year of that, my folks got me an electric guitar and I started teaching myself stuff by Nirvana and the Pixies. In eighth grade, my friends and I had a garage band in which I was the lead singer/guitar player. In high school, that band broke up, and I got hooked up with another band; we called ourselves, “Celiac Spru” which is a gastric disease. Celiac Spru played a little around Chattanooga, but mostly we were another garage band. Meanwhile at church, I started getting involved in youth Sundays, Sunday night services and singing in the youth choir. Church music challenged me to learn how to read chord charts and lead sheets as well as introduce me to the challenge of playing different styles from hymns to gospel shuffles.

When I was a senior in high school, my father took a job at my school leading choir and a jazz band, and I decided to take both of these classes. I enjoyed choir mostly as an opportunity to flirt with my girlfriend, but I really grew in jazz band as a musician and subsequently fell in love with jazz. So, after graduating high school, I enrolled in the University of Tennessee jazz program. My guitar teacher, Mark Boling, patiently worked with me to get rid of bad habits (like the fact that I never played with the pinky on my left hand) and to develop new skills (sight reading, theory , improvisation, and more.) Having a Bachelor’s Degree in music and especially jazz developed my playing, my reading, my ability to lead, my arranging skills, my compositional skills, and my ability to really hear music. When I wasn’t involved in school music, I was involved with the music teams of InterVarsity and Reformed University Fellowship as well as writing my own songs and recording a CD. I also spent two summers as a music intern at my home church.

  1. #1 by Anonymous on January 20, 2005 - 2:58 pm

    I like all the links you found to add color and dimension to your script.

  2. #2 by Anonymous on January 20, 2005 - 4:01 pm

    ah. thanks. i wish i had/could study jazz because i think there’s a lot of diversity there which would be helpful for all kinds of contemporary and multi-cultural music. as it is, i’m studying classical voice, which should be helpful for leading choirs.i’m toying with transferring to Georgia State, which has a good jazz program, though I don’t know how much I’d get as a vocal major. anyhoo, thanks for sharing.

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