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Forum Contributor 2010-2017
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Obviously going to gigs and watching professionals play jazz is good for improving skills, but I was wondering how much people think going to a gig once a week in place of practicing that day is worth compared to just practicing instead and listening to jazz on the ipod?
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Just like anything else, the practicing can use an off day every now and then. Dave Liebman talks about a day every week to enjoy other beautiful things, or something like that...

Going to performances is a motivating thing for me, and I would rather hear it live than on on recordings anyway.
 

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i say try it -see what you think.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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I think you have a great idea. Getting out there right in front of real players and possibly getting to talk to them can be a tremendous boost. You can ask about set-ups and all kinds of stuff. I love it when somebody asks me how to do something or what do I use, etc. I'll talk 'shop talk' anytime, anywhere. Now, probably most sax players are not like that, so tread softly. And the more well-known they are, the less likely they will spend any time with an amateur. But they can't stop you from watching and listening and soaking up years'-worth of info and inspiration. It wasn't jazz (and still isn't for me) but when I was still in my teens I spent a lot of time doing what you're talking about, and I'm certain it helped me.
 

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If you practice so much that you get zero enjoyment out of it, then your progress will be slow and painful. A day off to see a live show is a great idea! Sometimes a day with no thought about music at all is therapeutic. This being said, going to see a live show will do nothing to increase your mastery of the saxophone.
 

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Obviously going to gigs and watching professionals play jazz is good for improving skills
Is it? Going and seeing some monsters has it's place. It's a great source of inspiration. But I've never felt like I actually learned anything sitting in a club. I certainly never gained any muscle memory or improved my tone or my time. Unlike a record, anything somebody plays on a live gig is gone as soon as it's over. I've tried to remember licks I've heard at gigs but by the time I get home, they're gone. Going to a jazz club is certainly an enjoyable experience, but I've never thought that it actually made me a better player.

but I was wondering how much people think going to a gig once a week in place of practicing that day is worth compared to just practicing instead and listening to jazz on the ipod?
First, swperry is right, there's nothing wrong with taking a day off. I make it a point to take one day off a week (Sunday for me) and when I come back on Monday, I feel like I'm playing better than I did on Saturday. The day off gives my brain a chance to fully digest all I've been feeding it during the week.

Second, why couldn't you do both? Why can't you practice Saturday morning/afternoon and go out and see a quartet Saturday night? The average gig lasts 3 or 4 hours, what are you doing for the other 18 hours of the day?

Ultimately, I don't think going to a gig compares to practicing at all. It's apples and oranges. If you're looking for results, practicing is going to be much more beneficial.

As far as listening to live music vs. iPod, live music wins. It's just different when you're in the actual presence of acoustic instruments and you directly feel and hear the actual vibrations they're creating. It's something recorded music can't duplicate, at least I've never experienced a sound system that can duplicate it. Still, I feel like recorded music has a lot of benefits because you have the opportunity to revisit it and listen to it over and over again and find out exactly what the artist is doing, something that's much harder to do with live music.
 

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"This being said, going to see a live show will do nothing to increase your mastery of the saxophone." You don't really mean that do you? Nothing? I vehemently disagree.
 

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I thought this thread was about going to play at jazz gigs as practice but I discovered going to see live jazz.

My opinion is that it def. helps to see better players then ourselves but the real improvement happens in the woodshed or on stage playing.

You can spend 5 years in the woodshed and never get better than if you were able to spend 365 days in one year playing live with people better then yourself.

B
 

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You can spend 5 years in the woodshed and never get better than if you were able to spend 365 days in one year playing live with people better then yourself.
That's a different question. Playing with players who are better than you will help you a lot more than simply listening to them. From a "what will benefit me the most" perspective, I'd rather be the weakest link in a great band than the strongest link in a bad band.
 

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That's a different question. Playing with players who are better than you will help you a lot more than simply listening to them. From a "what will benefit me the most" perspective, I'd rather be the weakest link in a great band than the strongest link in a bad band.
Amen and I have been in alot of the latter ones.....

B
 

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you mean playing a gig instead of practicing? i don't know. i'm a fan of doing both in one day. i wouldn't ever intentionally skip a day of personal practice just to replace it with a gig. however, there have been days when i couldn't practice that day and i had a gig. i mean, in that case, i did what i had to do. but generally, the rule for me is to definitely make sure i practice before a gig. it gets me in a state of mind.
 

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I see guys come to jam every week...and they're just as bad as they were the week before. That phenomenon is difficult to understand.
Personally for me (redundant) I prefer to practice at home, but that gets old after a while and I need inspiration from other sources. I don't need that inspiration once a week though -- more like once a month.

Like others have I said though, listening alone isn't going to make me a better player, no more than it will make better that guy that has an iPod surgically attached to his ear. Getting better comes as a result of the copying and identifying.
 

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There's a lot of different opinions here (which is good). Mine is that a gig or even a live jam is far better for your playing than a practice. I think it keeps you on your toes. I also rarely practice on a gig day. I guess if the truth will be told - I rarely practice at all in the conventional sense. I work out parts alone sometimes and occasionally strive for a new altissimo note but that's just about it as far as solo practice goes. Recording, I will play the same parts over and over until I nail the take, but then I may never play it again. I do practice with a group two to three times a week though, and play out an equal or greater amount. Anything more than 5 or 6 straight days playing and I'm toast anyway. My chops are feeling the strain by day 3 if they are traditional 4 hour bar gigs....
 
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