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Hi, I'm a junior in high school and I tried out for jazz ensemble in sophomore year but two people better than me had already had those spots pretty much "reserved" since they were older and better than me. I filled in for a winter concert where I had to practice 6 days a week to catch up with everybody else and I was very proud of myself. At the concert, I played a little too quietly but I still did good. I asked my teacher if he could send me jazz pieces to practice about 2 times over the summer. Unfortunately he never sent me them. I recently did my audition a few days ago for this year which has been the most important thing on my schedule. I ended up messing up the rhythms on this one song since I didn't have any guidance, obviously because it was an audition. I sent him emails that if he could allow it I could redo my audition because it was a fluke or a bad song(which it was). He never responded and I don't even think he even read it. I saw this morning I didn't make it and I was heartbroken but I didn't want to talk to him because I thought it would be awkward and I was probably going to lose it. The person he took over me is a freshman that is very talented but honestly, I thought before that the initiative I was showing and the work I was putting in was going to pay off, but oh I was wrong. I know you don't always get your way in life, but this really sucks. Is there some way for me to channel my emotions into becoming a better player because the honors band music I'm playing is kind of easy? I could audition for the all-state band which is in a few weeks but I want some way to show him he should've picked me instead of just sitting around, complaining, and being sad. After this, I'm not sure I even want to do jazz next year because I just feel so let down by it but I still love playing jazz music. Any advice?

Thanks for listening!
 

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You're feeling disappointed. And it's ok to feel disappointed - you worked hard (presumably), tried your best, and it didn't go your way this time. Auditions are like that and, if you stick with music, you'll experience this a lot. Remember: auditions represent 1 day and 1 attempt at the piece. They're not entirely indicative of your overall skillset nor your value as a musician. In that sense, auditions are unfair. In another sense, they are the most "controlled" environment in which to evaluate a musician. I encourage you to follow your gut when thinking about talking to your band director: it's probably not a good idea. Your band director won't magically have an epiphany after hearing you whine about the audition and say, "My goodness! You're right! I've been a fool! You're now lead tenor in the jazz band!" Your band director will surely notice you working diligently to improve your skills.

You can let this disappointment deflate you or fuel you. Maybe it's too much and you'll walk away from the saxophone to discover the next thing you could be great at. Or, maybe it's what drives you to practice harder, seek out a private teacher (if feasible), audition for more community bands, start your own band, etc.

It's all perspective. Hang in there, and know that the feeling will pass.
 

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Playing jazz has nothing to do with what that teacher thinks. This is why I’m not a fan of auditions for high school jazz bands - they should be about learning to play jazz, not winning some competition.

I suggest you find ways to play jazz outside of school if possible. Do you have private lessons? I think you are right that you need guidance but you can get a teacher that knows jazz. If there is a place that has a jazz jam you can sit in for a song or two. It can’t hurt to try out for all state but getting in might be tough.

How are you playing jazz now? Do you use play along books or anything? There are a lot of online courses now, some have free material as well. Better Sax has a free course IIRC, and Scott Paddock also has an online course. It’s better to play with people but definitely look for ways to do it outside of school is my advice.

The most important thing I want to say to you: your wanting to play jazz and learning to play jazz are great. You don’t need anyone’s permission. There are people who talk talent, but almost everyone sucks at first and the people who are talented are not necessarily the people who keep playing and get good.
 

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Note your weaknesses and relabel them as “areas of opportunity”. Work on them.

If reading rhythms is a weakness, practice until it is a superpower. Same thing with sound production.

I can tell you firsthand that a good band doesn’t give away chairs. You should earn it. And when you do, you’ll appreciate it all the more. I played bari in one big band for a couple years before a tenor chair opened up. It was years more until I earned the first tenor (2nd sax) book.

Take some time to process, and then talk to the band director. Ask for his appraisal of what you need to work on. Don’t ask for another audition to (re)prove yourself. That’s a pity move. Everyone else had their auditions too.

It’s all about constant growth and moving forward with grace.

Hang in there.
 

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Don't sweat it, man. There world is a big place and there will ALWAYS be people who are better than you. Set your sights higher and break out of the little cage you have put yourself in.

For more practical advice, private instruction will take your farther faster than time spent in HS jazz band.. Find a local player at a gig or festival that you like, go up to them and ask if they offer lessons. Check out the people offering lessons at your local music store and do some trial lessons to get an idea. Ideally they should be a professional player, have good educational credentials, and you should like their playing style.
 

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As I would say to my own kids, "Oh boohoo. You didn't win".
You know where you messed up. Fix it.
Not everyone gets a spot. Try again next year.
There is nothing you can say that will change his mind. Put your butt in the chair, wear out some reeds, and improve your playing for yourself. Frankly speaking, no one else but you cares!
High School is the land of petty drama. Walk away from it and you'll be better for it. 😉
 
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“Reading Key Jazz Rhythms” by Fred Lipsius.

Highly recommended.
 
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Start a band outside of the school setting. Play along with recordings. Play along with apps like Band in a Box, or iReal Pro. Determine who your favorite players are, and listen to every shred of advice they've posted online, especially their influences. Learn, and ask questions. Don't worry about 4 years in a setting that really doesn't matter much in the long run. Focus on paying gigs. No, you're not to young to focus on that last point. This is a life long journey. Don't look at it in terms of your highschool years.
 

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OP: I taught woodwinds in schools and conducted the whole range of ensembles for over 25 years, and your story is very common. It's also very reflective of the music industry in general; I've been a full-time gigging sax player for the past 7 years (after teaching for 25 years) and still constantly experience some form of rejection....it's just part of being a musician.

However, I need to say that based on what you've said (and also from my considerable experience), you probably have musical deficiencies of which you are unaware; or at the very least, that you are possibly not addressing to a degree that your band director requires. As some of the posters above have suggested or implied, I would highly, highly recommend some form of private or otherwise external tuition. This would help to not only improve your playing to a significant degree but it'd also help to somewhat separate yourself from a tricky situation i.e. you may find it difficult to receive instruction from someone who has rejected you musically. With this being said, you also need to grow thicker skin and develop more resilience...the music world is tough and attitudes such as "I want to show xxxxx they made the wrong decision" and "I'm not sure that I want to continue with jazz next year" are immature and unhealthy, whilst also being understandable from someone at your age! If I had a student demonstrating those behaviours, I'd want to give them a good kick in the backside and would also think twice before promoting them on future occasions. So, be very careful about how you handle this situation in what you say and do because it WILL come back to haunt you if you handle it poorly. Posting about the situation here on SOTW was a great idea because a) you're anonymous, and b) you can vent without letting your band director/teacher being aware, and c) you're receiving advice from others who have been in your situation countless times.

Use this opportunity to either fuel your goals OR move on to something else instead. The decision is yours ;)
 

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Hi, I'm a junior in high school and I tried out for jazz ensemble in sophomore year but two people better than me had already had those spots pretty much "reserved" since they were older and better than me. I filled in for a winter concert where I had to practice 6 days a week to catch up with everybody else and I was very proud of myself. At the concert, I played a little too quietly but I still did good. I asked my teacher if he could send me jazz pieces to practice about 2 times over the summer. Unfortunately he never sent me them. I recently did my audition a few days ago for this year which has been the most important thing on my schedule. I ended up messing up the rhythms on this one song since I didn't have any guidance, obviously because it was an audition. I sent him emails that if he could allow it I could redo my audition because it was a fluke or a bad song(which it was). He never responded and I don't even think he even read it. I saw this morning I didn't make it and I was heartbroken but I didn't want to talk to him because I thought it would be awkward and I was probably going to lose it. The person he took over me is a freshman that is very talented but honestly, I thought before that the initiative I was showing and the work I was putting in was going to pay off, but oh I was wrong. I know you don't always get your way in life, but this really sucks. Is there some way for me to channel my emotions into becoming a better player because the honors band music I'm playing is kind of easy? I could audition for the all-state band which is in a few weeks but I want some way to show him he should've picked me instead of just sitting around, complaining, and being sad. After this, I'm not sure I even want to do jazz next year because I just feel so let down by it but I still love playing jazz music. Any advice?

Thanks for listening!
I feel this could be a defining moment for you. Mine was auditioning for a funk band i had no buisness being in.
So what I’m trying to say is, take that experience and use it to become best player you can be.

In some way its better to have this experience as a young person because time will work in your favor 😊

Best way to go about is to say to your band director “good pick, they are very good. Sucks it wasn’t me, but now i feel even more motivated”
Or something along those lines.

Best of luck
 

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Take this for what it's worth because I quit playing cornet as a high school freshman and only returned to playing when I started saxophone in my mid-50s, but I can't imagine anything less jazz-ish than auditioning in front of a music teacher for a high school jazz band and competing in front of a bunch of music teachers for a seat on the all-state band. If you love jazz and want to be the best you can be, do that. What follows will follow.
 

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Thank the computer gods for You Tube! All the ideas above are great, but I can only add one thing - LISTEN! Listen to the 'greats' who established themselves as jazz icons in the '40s, '50s and '60s. If you don't know who they are, research it. Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Lester Young, Earl Bostic.....its a long list. The idea is, find somebody in that class of player that you really like and keep listening to them. Over time you will begin to play that way a little as far as sound and ideas. Nothing will snap a band director's head around faster than hearing some young person putting out a classic jazz sound/style. Just keep listening to all of them - you don't want to totally emulate somebody - with all this in your head, what comes out will uniquely yours.
 

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If jazz is what your interested in find a teacher to learn from who can also set you up with gigs as you get better I was lucky to have a band director that was both my Band director and private instructor thankfully any gigs he couldn't do he'd pass to me. It helped me a lot and although I don't consider myself a jazz saxophonist and more of Pop, Rock, R&B, Funk etc. player I'm glad I learned how to play jazz because it gave me a lot of language and tools to use in modern music.
 
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