Three hundred and sixty-four days, and sixteen hours ago (and learning how to say no).

Almost one year ago, I was sitting in this chair and working on some transposing exercises for my Instrumental Methods class and my wife went into labor; three hours later we had a baby boy. He was amazing then and he is continuously a source of inspiration for me on many levels; I look forward to each and every day that is to come with him.

I have learned a lot and become a better dad, husband, musician, teacher and student over this trip around the sun and I know I couldn’t have done it without my amazing wife, and if I must state the obvious, I give thanks to God for this union and the blessings that have followed as much as I can, which is almost every day. The almost is that even though things have been great, things have also been tough. The more couples that I talk to say similar things with their first child. I am super busy and a lot of the load gets dumped on her–this is something to consider, ye who wants to follow your dreams. If you are not single, the person that loves you will probably be compensating for you in the areas that relieve you so you can get your school work, lessons, practicing, and gigging done. This is no easy task and I admire my wife one hundred percent for her graciousness and dedication to our household.  I don’t think anyone has ever said, “this is going to be easy”.

Becoming aware of my commitments and trying to alleviate these stresses placed on my wife has been helpful. After my first semester when I played more shows than I had ever played, had more students than ever, and took a 16 credit load at school, I looked at my sleeping son at the end of this semester and realized that I usually only spent a fraction of my day with him and my wife! I was amazed that I hadn’t noticed my lack! This changed as soon as summer came and now I have stripped my work and school load back and I love it! I think that is another thing that people lack, especially in the music circle (incredibly in the church!!!), and that is the word NO! No is an extremely short word, but it appears to be one of the hardest to say. I encourage you to exercise your “No” muscle and clean your life up a bit if you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or stressed.  Just say no. It will get easier and you will find that you are playing the gigs that YOU want to play and feeling built up and accomplished rather than spread too thin.  When time spent with the most precious people in your life becomes the most important thing to you it will get easier and easier. I am not a pro at saying no, but I am working on it. Here is the boy in full ham mode one week away from his first full year.  Photos from