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I come from a horrible music background. My first teacher let me double lip for a year because she didn't care that it was wrong (wrong to learn with, anyhow). My middle school teacher was new to the school and always seemed nervous to do anything new or challenging. My high school teacher is (as stereotypical as this sounds) a percussionist, and he can't play a saxophone to save his life, so he tossed me off to a lesson teacher, whom I've been going to for around two years and whom has been the most help yet.

The thing is, our music program at school is small--our only instrumental ensemble from 4th grade through 12th is concert band, which no one takes seriously, so we never do anything challenging. I'm about halfway through the first Rubank Advanced book in lessons, but that's all I do there (besides work on festival auditions and music).

I want to go into music because it's the only thing I'm passionate about, but I feel like I haven't had enough experience, I'm not well-versed enough. And when it comes to auditions, I get so nervous that it makes me want to put down my sax and never come back. What can I do to calm down? How can I expand my experience?

(An example from the lack of experience thing: I'm told that listening to professional players play is important, but I don't know what to listen to. Any suggestions?)
 

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A lot of students aren't happy with their school music programs. I think it's unfair to judge a program by one student's opinion, so I'll avoid any criticism in that area and just mention that band directors are often over-worked and do the best they can with the resources provided. Your band director did you a tremendous service, however, in recommending lessons. Kudos to him for that.

You did ask about nerves in audition situations. I've found that the best advice I can offer is to be well-prepared, and remind yourself that you are well-prepared when you walk into the audition. Then, immerse yourself in the music. If you are concentrating on the music, your nerves will calm. It's only when we concentrate on the situation that the nerves take over.

There are so many great players to listen to that I won't even touch that one. There have been a number of threads at SOW on who to listen to. Try searching those threads for recommendations.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
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Learning on a double-lip is not a music career-ender. I used the double-lip on my from 5th grade through my junior year in high school. Did well enough to make district honors band all four years, last three years, first chair. Only switched to single lip my senior year cause I switched to bari and the mpc was too big for double-lip. However, I have been using single-lip ever since. Not a huge issue to switch!

Well, on second thought, since I'm not a professional musician, perhaps the double-lip was my musical career-ender! :shock:

As far as overcoming nervousness, quit blaming it on your background and hit the shed - practice, practice, and then practice some more. Let the private instructor challenge and stretch you! Play as many auditions and recitals as possible. Fail a few times, pick yourself up, realize it's not fatal, and then hit the shed hard on your deficiencies. Everyone will hit some clams, even the best, just fake it till you make it! Learn to deal with and cover up the clams in the performance! That is a truly impressive talent to develop and comes in very handy, believe me, I know!

Don't practice till you get it right - practice until you can't get it wrong.
 

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I'm old. 50 to be exact. I've been blowing a horn of one kind or another for 40 of those years and I still get scared 'poopless' when I have to play in front of players/people who I see as 'better' than me. Sweaty hands, the shakes, hard to breath, GOTTA PEE kinda scared. It's pretty normal.
Don't worry about how crappy your program is. Worry about what you can do to rise above it and kick butt at auditions.
Your teacher is your best friend right now. They can give you LOTS of moral support and ideas to help you contain your nerves. They are the perfect person to practice auditioning in front of. Instant feedback and hints for improvement in one!

My old teacher told me once that a true musician is one who dares to suck. That's how we learn to improve.
Go out there. Audition. DARE TO SUCK!!! You'll be just fine. :)
 

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I was self taught, so didn't have any music education at school.

Don't worry, learn how to teach yourself. Get books, meet other musicians and talk to them.

(An example from the lack of experience thing: I'm told that listening to professional players play is important, but I don't know what to listen to. Any suggestions?)
You don't necessarily need to listen to professional players, but try to listen to as many of the good and great players as possible, listen to as much music as possible and analyse what they are doing, if you can't work out what they are doing, then there are books that can help. e.g. get some Lester Young recordings and the book by Lewis Porter which analyses a lot of what he did.

Mostly you need a positive approach, don't expect all your learning to be provided.

If you have performance nerves playing the saxophone, look that up on Google and you'll find plenty of help.
 

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All of these posts are good advice.

Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner was a book that really helped me direct my approach to playing/composing/practicing etc. I suffer from debilitating anxiety, and would freak out before and often during solo opportunities. I can play - performance major at Berklee and all that, but his book made a world of difference and now I'm a different cat.

You really should check it out, it's a quick read and will address your issues directly.

Good luck!
 

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There's some good advice here.

You don't say how old you are (middle school, high school?). My daughter is in 10th grade and has a music program similar to what you describe. It's a 6-12 school, wind ensemble only has 38 students. They play basic music. But this hasn't prevented her from going far beyond her school program, enoying music tremendously and now really excelling.

I think a big mistake many parents and students make is assuming that the school band program will teach you everything. Funds in schools are limited, some bands can be too small, some directors care more than others do. She and I don't blame the band director. There is only so much he can do with few students.

Find outside opportunities to perform. It will help you with auditions. Add another instrument--perhaps clarinet--and audition for a local youth orchestra. Practice music beyond what's in the Advanced Rubank book. Find music you like and learn it. Practice.
 

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If you are interested in playing concert band music at a higher level than is offered at your school, you might try looking for a local community band to play with----ask your teacher, or at local music stores, or check out this link----http://boerger.org/c-m/groups.shtml . It is an listing of community bands which you can search by region to find bands in your area. Many of these bands are non-audition, but do expect some minimal level of proficiency, which varies from group to group.

Good luck, and keep practicing! Ruth
 
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