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There is a lot of wisdom in this thread.

I had excellent private teachers and musical mentors from middle school on up through college. I practiced whatever they asked me to.

In terms of time commitment, I practiced/played for hours on end for about a 7 year period from late high school through college.

As a saxophonist, I get my work from being able to read anything on sight, play with the appropriate sound and style for any type of music, improvise and play other woodwinds fluently. In a word, versatile.

In addition, as mentioned earlier in the thread, do not underestimate the importance of having the ability to work with others. Networking and building a good reputation are very important.

In the early years of my career, I didn't pick and choose my gigs. I took just about everything I could get. Now that I am established as a teacher and performer in my area for over 20 years, I can be very picky about my gigs. However, even when I turn down a gig, I am pleasant, professional and thankful for the offer.

Last, I listened (and still do) constantly to anything and everything.

Good luck!
 
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