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This question is mainly aimed towards the professional saxophonists on here but anyone, feel free to answer; how long have you been at the level you're at? How long have you been playing as well as you play today? When did you reach that level and did you ever stop to think to yourself, "Hey, I'm pretty good now. I'm like totally pro!"

I'm just curious because we all start somewhere but not end up at the same place. The best example is physical size. Some people are short, some are really tall. The really tall people, at some point in their life, were pretty small too, even if it weren't for long. Then there came a time where they had a growth spurt and got to be 7 feet tall. Then they finally stop growing.

My point is, for those of you who are really good, have you come to the point in your life where you've determined that you're not going to get any better and this is as good as you're ever going to play? Do you remember a time in your life where you weren't nearly as good, and was there a "growth spurt" that took place? Thanks everyone.
 

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FighterForJC said:
This question is mainly aimed towards the professional saxophonists on here but anyone, feel free to answer; how long have you been at the level you're at? How long have you been playing as well as you play today? When did you reach that level and did you ever stop to think to yourself, "Hey, I'm pretty good now. I'm like totally pro!"

I'm just curious because we all start somewhere but not end up at the same place. The best example is physical size. Some people are short, some are really tall. The really tall people, at some point in their life, were pretty small too, even if it weren't for long. Then there came a time where they had a growth spurt and got to be 7 feet tall. Then they finally stop growing.

My point is, for those of you who are really good, have you come to the point in your life where you've determined that you're not going to get any better and this is as good as you're ever going to play? Do you remember a time in your life where you weren't nearly as good, and was there a "growth spurt" that took place? Thanks everyone.
Learnings not linear, there are definite peaks and dips, with some brick walls thrown in the way. I don't think I'm as good technically as when I was younger, but I try to make up for it with musicianship.

I also have a hell of a lot more fun playing than I did 30 years ago.:D
 

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My sight reading and playing written music probably peaked in 1980 when I graduated college and was playing 4 nights week in different bands. My jazz soloing peaked about 7 years ago when I was doing more jazz gigs and teaching a workshop in Berkeley a couple of nights a week. As far as RnB soloing and pop playing , that all depends on my health. If I can get a solid 2 hours a day for a week (very hard for me to do physically , let alone keeping a marrage together and job) I can sound better than ever. Its all about the time and focus. K
 

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I've been retired from playing for years.

> Playing? The best was when I was in college. The second time. That'd be about 20 years ago.

> Musically? I'm probably better now than then.

After attending college for music (and working as an assistant to a director), I then ran a music department and then worked as a director at two different churches.

After that, I seriously pursued getting better at ... singing.

During all that time, I played a good deal of bari, which means that I can probably come up with a funky bass line to anything. However, I now better harmonize, blend and have better expression in my music because of my experience singing. I also think I can follow rhythms better and sight read a LOT better.

I also maintain that one unfortunate thing is that I was never encouraged to sing. I think I have a good deal of talent at that. I don't have talent playing: everything I got I got from blood, sweat and tears -- and I'm about average. Singing? I was about average before lessons and now I'm pretty good. If I had the time and money, I'd take more lessons, but I have other hobbies that I like, too, and those take my time and money.
 

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About ten minutes, I hope. That's how long it's been since I last put the horn down. I try to get better every time I practice. It doesn't always happen, but I try.
 

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With me, I've never had the luxury of being able to put in 5 hours of honest practice each day due to several factors, and I don't know exactly which method books to practice with. I took several lessons from Eric Marienthal and the only book I practice with is his Comprehensive Jazz Studies. I HOPE that I can still get better with more practice with more variety. Physically, I was at my best probably 6 or 7 years ago when there was a 5 or 6 week stretch in which I was able to practice at least a couple of hours a day (I know that's pathetic compared to the pros I've seen on these boards), and that did wonders for me. I'm still pretty much going off on those practices, even though I've been more consistent over the last couple of years as far as not going more than a few weeks without practicing "for real." I'm planning on getting back on track and giving my music one last push to see just how far I can get with this. It could be just all in my mind, but I think I play and sound better today than I did 7 years ago. I think I matured musically a bit, and when I switched my alto mouthpiece from Dukoff to Beechler a couple of years ago, my sound changed significantly.
 

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Al Stevens said:
About ten minutes, I hope. That's how long it's been since I last put the horn down. I try to get better every time I practice. It doesn't always happen, but I try.
Heh, that's precisely what I was going to say. I'm no pro, but as I understand it, even the greatest of the greats (ex. Bird and Coltrane) never stopped their long tones.

I, too, put the horn down about ten minutes ago. It's only 11:30PM, but the neighbors and the nice couple downstairs are already griping. I just don't get it.
 

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I am only 18, and I have been playing the Saxophone for about a year now which seems like it went by so fast. But doesn't this question fall into the bragging category? is there anything wrong with that? I don't brag but I used to. Now I have a friend who does aand I feel like knocking his teeth out.
 

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i am now 59 years old,playing saxophone since 7 years old,like the posts before me, ups and downs,life happens,children,etc.i get to write,study daily,practice horn 6 to 8 hours a day,for the last 6 months,i have the time right now,its my core,theres many of us doing the same,whenever we can,gigs come and go,but the horn is there,i feel more intouch with my horn than ever,no gigs no recordings planned,no pressure.love it.i do teach some,i stay intouch with players regularly,but study,practicing,writing,is all i want to do for a while,i am getting to do what i could not, when i was younger,i was too caught up. my brother wants to record soon can you say distraction,maybe i will have to leave the house a few days a week, distraction and so on, for now i will play,if for some reason i cannot play,i will sing,between my ears.that happens sometimes,you know.
 

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I don't know if it's so much bragging... some things just seem to come naturally to certain people. For example, though I've been playing for over nine years, I've been outblown by people who hadn't had their horns for more than two. Similarly, my girlfriend, a French major and someone who knows some Italian, German, and Czech, gets irritated every time she hears me say something in French without difficulty--even if I am only just starting to pick it up.

Every person excels at something, it's just up to that person to decide if he should spend his valuable time working on something he doesn't excel at. I don't excel with the saxophone, but I like it, so I keep working on it. It's as simple as that.
 

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I've tried to identify my short coming (or where I want to improve) and tackle those areas from time to time in my limited practice schedule, BUT

expressionism - I consider this to be the best i've ever been able to play. I thought I was very good in college (20+ years ago) and have improved since then. But ever since I went to larger tips (fairly recently) I consider this to be so much better than I ever was.

sight reading - This is difficult. I know in college I was able to sight read about anything except in more complex keys - even the weird french stuff. I think i'm really good in more complex keys now. But it seems as though my eyes have given in a bit, which has made it worse due to not seeing things clearly. I have to stare and focus much more than even last year.

technically - in college i was able to really play about anything well. I was playing 2-3 hours per day - now 2-3 hours practice per week. I was better then.

jazz - never really got into as much as i'm doing now in college - we are talking the theory aspect of it for soloing based on chordal theory. I'm much better than I was then, and improving weekly

HORN-wise
tenor playing - ever since I got a Selmer - that's all ppl want me to play. The ergos are far superior to me than my Couf. technically, a large jump in ability on RH

alto - haven't played it much since I got my Selmer tenor.

clarinet - I was a killer clarinet player in college (and now). Now every time I try to play it in a band they want me to play tenor. Though I know i'm still really good at clarinet - play duets as an alternative w/college folk.

flute & cello -- haa .. right .. we'll skip these - keeping them for the kids :D
 

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There is a slightly scary but, I believe, accurate cliche about musical development:

You're never standing still. You're either getting better or you're getting worse.

As others have quite rightly pointed out, though, "better" and "worse" can be seen from varied but legitimate points of view. But i just thought i'd throw that in..
 

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I'm sure you can at least gauge your abilities by the things you weren't able to do before but are able to do now, and vice versa.
 

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I agree with Al: about ten minutes. More realistically, though, it's about a week. I made another step forward on soprano; I don't know if I hadn't thought of it before, or tried it, or was unable to do it till then, but it has made a big difference in how well I play.
 

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I peaked at age 19 and I 've stayed at that level for the past 20 years(I'm 39 now). In other words I play for enjoyment which keeps my chops up but really haven't studied anything new w/ the exception of buying a soprano in '04.
 

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Only about 5 minutes. I just got the horn out for today's practice
 

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FighterForJC said:
.........My point is, for those of you who are really good, have you come to the point in your life where you've determined that you're not going to get any better and this is as good as you're ever going to play? Do you remember a time in your life where you weren't nearly as good, and was there a "growth spurt" that took place? Thanks everyone.
Your question really hits home with me. A little background: I have an eclectic background in music, started playing paying jobs while a sophomore in HS, and am 60+ yo.
About five years ago I looked around, and reassessed myself, and decided that "life's too short, there's not enough time left for me to be as good as I want." So, I decided to expound on what I (already) know, and at the level of musicianship that I'm at, right now. Rather than thinking "good" as an upward goal, I think "broaden my horizons."
Anyhow, I can honestly say that I'm "spurting.":)
 

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I have been playing for 4.5 years. I'm 51. I have probably averaged about 3 hours a day for 6 days a week ever since I got the horn. I could probably count on one hand the number of days that I have not gone to bed a better player than when I got up.

My practice routine is regularly restructured as my playing eveloves.

My life is now completely consumed with music. Sold my house so I could practice more. I have started playing paid gigs this year and as long as my health holds I would hope to continue practising and improving.
 

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I've been playing clarinet since the age of 10. I'm 46 now. I've gotten better in some aspects and rusty in others. I've been at my current level for about 5 years. Being a full time Mom and working a couple part time jobs really takes up a lot of time I'd rather spend improving my skills on any of the instruments in my posession. Who knows where I'll be in the next 5.
I'll probably never reach 'Pro' status, but at least I'm not ashamed to play in public.
 
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