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I've gotten to the point that I don't feel the same about music and playing saxophone as I used to. I'm not sure what is wrong.

I'm 26 now and started playing the sax when I was 13. I've been interested in music for as long as I can remember. When I first started playing the sax, I remember I couldn't wait to get home from school so I could practice. Got to the point where I was playing pieces like the Ibert and Dahl when I was was in the 10th grade without any private lessons. I was just so thirsty to learn more and more and wanted to master the saxophone. Ended up getting a full scholarship for music. That's when I started to lose interest I guess.

I started re-thinking what I wanted to do with my life. I was a music ed major. Once I started getting around kids and teaching, I hated it! They weren't into music as much as I was, suprise suprise! I realized there was no reason to keep going into debt for something I didn't want to do, so I moved back home so I could try to figure things out. I still haven't figured out what to do.

I still love music. I still play a pretty good bit. I play just about every weekend with 2 different bands. But it has gotten to the point that I look at my horn and I'm like, "Damn, I've got rehearsal" or "I'm gonna be out til 3am tonight and feel like crap at work tomorrow", instead of how I used to be, "I can't wait to play tonight with some great musicians, this is gonna be awesome!".

My horn usually stays in the case until I have rehearsal or a gig. When I try to get it out to practice, I usually put it back up within 30 min because it feels more like work than fun, like it used to be. I used to not be able to sleep waiting on a piece of music to arrive in the mail. When it got here, I would get lost for hrs practicing it until I had it nailed. Then I would repeat the process with something more difficult.

I haven't felt that way towards playing in a few years. Every once in a while, I will hear something and get inspired to practice, but that usually only last for a day or two.

The worst thing is, I don't HEAR music the same anymore. I used to hear a song and get lost, almost like an amazing high. Like the first time I heard Parker or Kenny Garrett, etc. Now, it seems like all I do is analize the music. When I hear something "new", I think to myself, "That's just a I IV V or, he sounds almost identical to so&so". Nothing blows my mind anymore! I really miss it! I want to get back to enjoying music and playing the way I did when I was younger.

Anyone ever gone through anything like this before? It is really tearing me up. I've even thought about going to a shrink, but I just can't afford it. I've got a lot of talent and potential and I don't want to waste it. I don't want to look back in 20 years and say, "man, I wish I would have put more time into music." I've come to far to just stop and put it down.

Any thoughts or ideas on how I can get my enthusiasm back for music? or just any thought or ideas in general? Anything would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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Sometimes you just need a break. And I mean a real break. Quit playing for as long as you deem necessary and try to enjoy yourself. Do you have any hobby? There's no point in trying to force a feeling to magically come up, it won't happen and it will only make you more depressed. This works just like love. You can't force it, it has to grow and bloom like plants do : at their own pace.

It seems the foundation for your state of mind is the disappointments you had growing up with high expectations for a career in music. Well, maybe this career was not for you after all. An it's not necessarily a problem. Talent is just not enough to make it in the music business. Hard work, social skills and sacrifices are IMO much more important.
But maybe it is, and you just need to digest your realization of how the real world works.

Disappointed that the kid didn't like it as much as you did? Well, why didn't you try to reach the ones who were paying a little more attention? Being a teacher requires a whole set of different skills than being a musician. You can be a great teacher and not necessarily have the skills to make it in the scene and vice versa. Don't let the disappointment in one taint the other.

As for the fact you don't enjoy listening to music as much as you used to, I have been in a similar phase before. I used to get high all the time and listen to music. I loved it. It's helped me feel the music more intensely and quite a few time it's made me realize how and why some of the stuff I was listening to worked. Long story short, I had to quit taking so much stuff and it took me at least a year / year and a half to enjoy music as much as I used to.
The few things which helped were expanding my music library to any styles, trad. music from all over the world, etc., let things progress at their own pace (trying not to obsess about it) and go to live concerts of great musicians.

To make it short, it will take some time and a great deal of introspection to revive this spark but if I managed to do it you sure can as well.

Best of luck to you!
 

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If it is only a spell you will work your way through it.

But I think not. Your progress slowed down with all the knowledge you collected. You're getting bored.
Try to get a fresh perspective, a new kind of music, different instruments, dancing, or something completely different. Or take some time completely off.

But please make sure you do not reach the point where you're just annoyed and disgusted with music. By the sound of your post, you're on the road to it.
 

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Take up another instrument as a hobby. Guitar, piano - whatever. I have had spells where it was very hard to motivate. A new instrument has been my solution that worked. Now I'm decent at quite a few of them. A MIDI keyboard and a sequencer can keep you engaged for years. I also experience the burn-out from a heavy schedule sometimes but I have found that when I stop gigging, I get bored quickly. My wife and I were just talking today trying to remember what we did with all the free time when I was a studio only musician. We didn't come up with much of an answer. I think I just frittered the time away...Might as well just keep playing and work through the burn-out.

"Rest when you die"
 

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i'm a pro player and i get this every 2 or 3 years! There are many ways to get through it....take a complete break, or change your horn, or just practice your way through it by practicing things you've not worked on before continuously until you can inject a fresh slant on all the tunes you know...../ it's different for everyone! I normally stop listening to sax music completely for a month or two and listen to the pop/rock stuff that turned me on as a kid! Good luck and don't worry.....after a month or two or six it'll come back!
 

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I'm pretty sure everyone in every field of endeavor goes through this to some extent. I'm a lot older than you and when I look back I've often thought about how, if only I would have really stuck with just one thing, one career, and put everything I had into it, I would have maybe acheived some great 'success'. I've been a geoloist, a writer, a kayaking instructor, and a musician, among a few other interests, and I don't regret any of it. But I've never been able to settle totally into only one thing. I always start to burn out or pursue some other interest.

Music has been there all along and I've always had a great interest in it, but not to the exclusion of all else. Music has also taken me longer to achieve any real success than those other things, so that might be part of your problem. You've had a lot of success early on. Right now I'm really happy playing blues/old-school R&B and a touch of jazz. I gig a lot with my band and do sometimes get a little burned out, but after a few days off I'm ready to hit the bandstand again. The only advice I can give is to realize you can't have those magic moments all the time. You may have to lower your expectations a bit, but still look for the silver lining. It's there.

Kudos to Magical Pig: His post (#2) is excellent and I've had a pretty similar experience to what he describes. I bet many of us have. In short, I wouldn't get all twisted up about this. Take some time off, develop some other interests, but keep the music at least on the back burner and don't abandon it. The spark will return when you least expect it.
 

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Powers,
I'm actually feeling the same way at the moment. I'm personally only 17, but I've decided to go into music ed. For the last 3 years, I've been really shedding, doing similar things as you said in jazz and classical music. But over the last couple months I've been bored... Things aren't as amazing and new like you said. When I discovered Joshua Redman, it was like a fire lit under me, Michael Brecker - a fire. Ben Webster, - A fire.

You might want to go into your music library and really dig WAY back. Something you haven't heard in a long time. For me, I went back to listening to Duke Ellington. Worked my way all the way back up and things felt good again. It's almost a reincarnation. I'm still not completely satisfied with what I want to do for the future.

Do you have any other academic interests? I love Science, and History so I've been really interested in the technical aspects of Sound and instruments, and then how music has developed over the years. Maybe you can relate your musical interest to another field?

Perhaps, break out of your element, like others said and "study" a different sound. If you play jazz, maybe you should break into some Afro-Cuban. Several musicians did these things. John Coltrane changed his sound every six months. Miles Davis made several changes. Sonny Rollins started going to his roots. The list is endless.

-Bubba-
 

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Wow, you should see the 'epistle' I just wrote but deleted. It turned out to be more about me and my fifty years of gigging (so far) than about your problem. So, the way it looks to me is your real problem is you have no direction in your life at this time. The sax issue is secondary. You have to decide what you're going to do between now and old age. If it turns out that you find a music-related career, great. If it turns out you get into another line of work and just play on the side, that's great too. But, I have no doubt you will continue to play. The idea of being bored with all music is ludicrous - you have a music education, so you must know that even though you can instantly understand the pattern of a piece of music, the possible variations within that pattern are infinite. What are there, about 1000 different jazz tunes based on the 'Cherokee' pattern? That didn't hamper Stan Getz or most any other great jazz player when they put their tremendous artistry into their own versions. Hell, I was just listening to an Earle Bostic tune ('Up There In Orbit') that's based on 'When the Saints Go Marching In' for goodness sake, but he burns that thing up! Here's what I suggest; Using the unbelievable resources of today, go back into the past of sax playing. Listen to Bostic, Getz, 'Trane, Byrd, King Curtis, Dexter Gordon, EVERYBODY! See if you don't get excited, not by the stucture of the foundation, but by the artistry these icons built over it. I'm not saying your salvation lies in emulating them (that's what I did, or tried to do, and I have to admit I'm really okay with the way it turned out :)), but I think you need to rediscover why we do this and why people (the non-musician 'muggles' that pay us) are willing to shell out dough to see you do it right in front of them.
If it turns out that none of this turns you on, all I can say is, something turned it off for you. We all have that switch. It's an incredible switch that can control any aspect of our lives, but usually it's not under our conscious control. We might call it 'growing away from' something or somebody, and it can be very hard to throw that switch the other way. Sometimes you don't even want to change it, and that can be good. For all we know, you could be the next great genius of the saxophone. Don't all geniuses get bored with 'what's happening now' and thereby get spurred into action inventing something new?
Maybe it's just not the sax for you at all. Maybe you should go electronic with a wind controller. Whatever. I hope you find your way.
 

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Bubba; didn't mean to restate your good suggestions - it just took me a long time to compose mine and re-write it. I never saw your post before entering mine.
 

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Yeah, I went through what you are going through at a slightly later age. I had gone to Berklee, played in bands including backing up some big name entertainment (no name dropping I hate it) and then I was in between gigs living at my mother's house and I just got totally depressed and hit a wall. I was supposed to report for a gig on a cruise ship and I never showed. Maybe something most guys would kill for at some point. I never went back to music full time which I guess I regret in some ways and am thankful for in others. I hated the road and I didn't really like being an entertainer. I hated teaching too when I tried that. Music is a really rough trade so don't blame yourself. You may find something else you like to do better and do music part time. That's what I did and now I really enjoy practicing and playing, having people like my playing etc. I'd take a break if you can. Think about what you would like to do for work, maybe try a different type of job if you can find one. You may end up going back to music full time but I would try something else for awhile. And remember don't blame yourself (like I did for so long)- music can be an extremely difficult road with tons of stress teaching or playing. Time for a break.
 

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Like others have said doing music full time in any sense is hard. It is not for everyone. I loved most of my time doing music full time but I made sure I learned how to do other things. I learned trade work like painting, framing and other construction related things. I also made sure I always surfed and exercised a lot. I need the physical outlet. Long story short is I saved all the money I made playing music and building houses and I bought property. Now I can afford to not do music full time because I have properties that are income for me. I worked really hard and saved and now I have time to play music when I want, play the gigs I want and I still get to surf and spend time with the family. I'm very lucky with how my life is going right now and I could not have done it if music was all I knew.
 

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When I had only been playing about a year a great player (who was also pretty high) started bellowing: "YOU are just a musician. You only play notes, chords, scales. I on the other hand am an artist. I don't play music, I play my thoughts and feelings. I play my life". Even though he was a bit nuts his point stuck with me. The jazz world spends too much time on the pen and paper and not enough time on the story. When you were passionate about learning that energy needed no prompting or manipulation. It came from within you. The only problem is now you need something different. Inspiration disappears for me when I am trying to force myself in a certain direction. Obviously if you need to learn some parts then you need to just do the work required. But when you have time to yourself take the horn and play with no one else in mind. Laugh, cry, scream, compose, whatever comes. Don't play the horn. Use the horn to play yourself. Maybe you'll wish to play more, maybe not. But it will come from within.
 

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Been there done that although I was much older and had played for longer before it happened because I did not make music the end all. I have lots of other interests not music related and a great family life.

Being well-rounded in life will get you much further down the road to success than obsession Imho.

Personally I liked the suggestion above that you consider learning other instruments.

Best luck.

B
 

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Good post, 1saxman.
......., the way it looks to me is your real problem is you have no direction in your life at this time. The sax issue is secondary. .......
No matter how spiritual, or religious, we think sax is there is something greater that gives our lives, consequently our music, direction.
 

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A year ago, I was sure I was going to be a music major. Now, that I've had more time to think about it, I want to do something more in the history field. With me, it seems if I spend too much time on one thing alone ill lose interest. My advice would be to either take a break from music and let a new interest in your life for a bit, or if you'd rather not do that, pick up a double:
Flute,Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Guitar,Bass,Drums,Piano,Brass. Or anything else.

Just don't be like me and be a jack of all trades and a master of only one.
 

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My suggestion is start listening to music that you can't figure out so obviously. Listen and/or practice things that challenge you. Have you ever listened (I mean, actively listened), for example, to Debussy? Or to Schubert's or Beethoven's string quartets? have you ever tried to play sax transcriptions of Bach's sonatas for violin? See, I'm a jazz aficionado, but all the examples I'm giving you are from the classical field. There's great things to find and explore there and that will probably bring your enthusiasm back. And why not try composing, buy some notation software like Finale or Sibelius and approach music from a composer's perspective. That can be a lot of fun too. Just some ideas. Good luck!
 

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Oh, yeah. Nothing is wrong - what you are feeling is normal. There are many ways to respond to it, though. You need to figure out which works best for you.

Here is my version. I was a hotshot clarinet player in high school, but then let it (mostly) go as I pursued photography, only taking out the horn every few months. I worked obsessively and constantly on my photography for years, and got to be very good. Then I went to law school, and both took a back seat. Then I quit being a lawyer to go to art school, and worked at being a serious visual artist. Then I worked on architectural lighting design (and doing visual art) until I went back to being a lawyer (and doing visual art). A few years ago I got totally blocked and couldn't bring myself to actually make any art. So that is when I went back to music, but playing mostly saxophone, and concentrating on playing with other people (which is always what I liked best - not practising alone). Now I am having a good time with music, and I just started photographing musicians, so it all loops around.

Once you are out of school, making music (or art) gets much harder - there is suddenly no support system, no organized structure giving you positive feedback, etc. unless you find it or make it yourself. Even then it is still not the same - it can be quite hard to keep yourself motivated. There is a book I like and found helpful (although it is written by and primarily for visual artists) that you might like, which is Art and Fear (by Bayles and Orland): http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Observations-Rewards-Artmaking/dp/0961454733

I know others who have had that issue, and they all deal with it in their own way. One amazing musician I know dropped out of college due to similar feelings; she took some time off (and worked as a nanny) before returning to school refreshed, graduating and going on to do some amazing musical things, like a Fulbright in Bulgaria learning vocal techniques.

It is all just a part of being an artist or musician, and actually caring about it. Good luck!
 

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I think this affects people who are seriously gifted from an earlier stage more than we trundlers. Because I have a full-time other career, music is done in the time I can steal from the rest of my life. I've done it nearly full-time, when I was pretty rubbish, but always had the feeling I could get loads better, so I didn't get frustrated. I can play Ok now, fairly lateish in life, and I can see very easily now how I could get really good if I had the time, which keeps motivating me. I've known others your age who just lost interest, even though they were hugely gifted. I think the thing is you need to learn to miss it, by doing other stuff that matters, then the motivation will return. So get involved in something else that really engages you, and then you'll want to get back to the sax more.
 

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I guess this happens to a lot of us from time to time, it's hard to stay positive sometimes.
Consider yourself lucky because this happens NOW at age 26. Do that rethinking you talked about.
Find out what you really love about the music and strive to get there. Which might include a need to be in another band with other/better players. Or start composing, writing your own music.
Some things you can't really go back on, like you talked about your listening to music, you have lost the connection with the emotional level and go into analyze mode. You CAN get that back a litle bit though, the music which still does that to you might be a little harder to find, you really have to search for it because your ear matured.
I hope you get through this allright, despite the odds the world needs musicians, it would be a loss if you gave it up after coming this far.
 
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