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Discussion Starter #1
I am putting in 2 hours a day of practice on most days but lately on gigs I have more mental "drops" where I have to catch myself to play the right part or solo. I'm 64 . at least I dont' have the hearing loss and tinitus like some I know. I guess I just can't take forms for granted, even if I have played them for years. Need to do a run through on my own before a gig. I guess. K
 

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I've never been able to memorize music. I need the dots on the page or I'm lost. Maybe that's why I topped out around 8th grade.:(

Seriously though, my wife asked me to help make the bed this morning, which we do together most every morning. I started to strip it thinking today was Sunday which is our regular sheet changing day. I was complaining asking her didn't we just do this a day or two ago. Yep, we changed the sheets yesterday. Sad to get older. Could be the beer, I don't know. Rots the brain I hear.
 

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I feel your pain, Keith! I'm having the same issues but I'm a couple of years older. But, I was just recently watching a youtube of a local band that member 1saxman plays in and I don't think he missed a que! And he's about 10 years older than me...it's not fair...
But, we're still on the "green side"! :)
 

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Thanks GT but at 74 I'm becoming aware of some strange manifestations. I can read but don't use charts as a rule. You could call me an 'ear' player and I do improvise a lot on solos, but in reality I'm a 'memory' player - I learn to play the horn parts either by remembering the original record or by learning a different arrangement and remembering that. I had a special deal last December where I stepped into a show and played the Boots Randolph sax solo on 'Rocking Around The Christmas Tree' which I had never played with a band but learned anyway because it was so great. So at rehearsal, the producer said I was dragging on it, which shocked me. Since then, listening to all recordings, band vids, etc., from recent years I have verified this is happening. After a lot of thought I think my concentration is lapsing. The way it works for me is I 'hear' what I want to play at the same time I'm 'playing it back' live. Sometimes there is too much time between the phrases as I momentarily lose track of what comes next and have to think about. This used to be so automatic that I guess I took it for granted and never realized what was really happening. This process was so well -developed that I could follow another players improvisation live (within reason, of course) almost simultaneously; there obviously would be a small delay. What I'm saying is after all the years and all the thousands of songs still in my head, its like the playback machine is skipping a little here and there.
So, realizing this, I'm now listening to any recordings that I can get on any of my gigs as I also try to stay focused while playing and also keep in mind to push the tempo and play on top of the beat.
The other thing is more normal for my age - I just don't automatically remember all these parts as easily as 40 years ago but at the same time, paying attention to younger players around me, frequently I am ahead of them so I guess I'm still in the game.
Sometimes I do get the feeling that all those thousands of songs/horn parts/solos are just all running together after 60 years but at least for now I'm still getting by and having fun. I'm having a lot more fun with another group where I'm the only horn, which is the way I like it. Its more eclectic and we recently went over 'Just A Gigolo' for example and I was doing the Sam Butera thing on it. These guys do a little of everything but everything is done with soul and enthusiasm.
 

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I'm in my 50s now, but I started noticing around age 35 that it took me more time to learn new things and more effort to maintain what I'd learned. This decline has been slow but steady since that time. Applies to everything in my life - names, facts, events, etc. It's as if my brain is full, and my existing memories get pushed deeper in the corners of my mind so they take longer to access. Of course this is just a normal part of growing old, and I simply have to work harder to compensate.
 

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Part of the issue is age, part is nutrition, part is injuries....at 67, with too many concussions, I have to be really careful what I eat. Most gigs I read charts, memorizing just takes too long now. I can’t control age or injuries, so food intake, for me, is key....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ive been in the same band for 19 years mainly (Jami Jamison Band) and we'll crank out Georgia which we haven't played in 4 months and never practice and ooopppps, what are the changes. ?? I can ear my way through most stuff. But I'd prefer to have it under memory K
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We just learned Stitched up and Wine Wine Wine at rehearsal. That keeps the learning tool sharp but still , If we cranked out Good morning heartache Im sunk. Knew it 5 years ago , no way now K
 

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I don't think it's unusual to 'lose' a tune you haven't played in 4 or 5 years. I have to play a tune on a fairly regular basis (not necessarily with the band, but at least while practicing) in order to retain it well in my memory. I can think of a number of tunes I haven't played in several years that I would need to review in order to play them today. The good news is you can usually re-learn a tune very quickly if you learned it well in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What was the question?
Do you forget changes or parts of memorized songs when you haven't played them in awhile?. I'd say our band has over 100 songs we know from the time Ive been with them (18 years) but we only choose from 45 or 50 currently . That being said after a few months not playing a tune even Georgia or God Bless the Child I have to think about and re remember. So the question is does that happen to others and how do they fix?handle it. K
 

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What was the question?
The what? I forgot...

Keith, I suspect a bit of sarcasm on saxoclese's part.

But hey, yeah Keith my band has about 150 tunes, only maybe 50-60 that we currently play. What we do is occasionally have a rehearsal where we usually work on 2 or 3 new tunes, but also may dredge up one of those tunes we haven't played in the past few years and just run through it again in the rehearsal to bring us all back on board for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Our rehearsals aren't very good; The band hashes through 20 "hits or rhythm changes, chord changes from the original, two key changes to get that right for the singer. ' and beginnings endings, why dont you do that , whatever. And then the song at the end has been played once right.So I do it many more times on my own . I used to come in to rehearsal when all that crap was gone and just play the song 10 times and get it memorized . I still know songs from 15 years ago learned that way. Its hard to tell nuance here on the forum so I took his question at face value. K
 

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As a late bloomer, I was just thrilled that I didn't have the crippling performance jitters like when I played clarinet in 6th grade. Stand up and play a solo, no problem. Of course, I'm not asking people to pay to hear me. The downside to starting late is that I have very few tunes committed to memory. Probably my own fault for having many competing interests. And the idea of now committing tunes to memory doesn't interest me that much as an amateur. I'd rather remember the password to my brokerage account. Memorizing the chord changes to Green Dolphin Street? I think that ship has sailed.

Mark
 

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At 68, with 55 years of playing (50 of them professional,) I can attest that memory most definitely IS an issue. But I suspect something else. You say you're practicing 2 hours a day. That is possibly too much. I know, I know, everybody in the world says "practice, practice, practice!" like it's some kind of religion. But I also know that over-rehearsal can cause a player to become temporarily rote, dull, and frankly bored with the material. NOTHING will cause memory lapses for me quicker than being bored with the material.

I suggest you spend less time practicing your pieces and more time free blowing, jamming over Aebersold-style backing trax, or even just doing long tones, altissimo, or "broken" tones. In short, have some FUN with the horn. After all, that's part of why you picked it up in the first place, right? If it doesn't work, it costs you nothing.

At first, your practice is all about getting the piece into your conscious mind. The goal, however, is to commit it to muscle memory. Once that starts, the trick is to TRUST your subconscious mind. I've learned that this portion of your brain has an eidetic memory, but your logic center doesn't want to believe that, because it "doesn't make sense." But it's true, nonetheless. It's something we all did effortlessly as infants, yet we get conditioned from the moment we learn to talk to doubt it, reject it, suppress it, and ridicule it. But it's true, nonetheless. Sometimes we give too much credit to making sense. Hey, it's sort of true that being a professional musician doesn't make sense, it being pretty much an oxymoron and all.
 

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I am 65 and a professional musician. Saxophone for 55 years. I might have help. A few years ago I began an exercise to improve my meditation (focus, stillness, concentration, relaxation). As a side benefit it improved my memory (musically) and my concentration, which is really the issue. Here it is: Count backwards from 5000 by 10s. (5000, 4990, 4980, etc.) It seems simple enough, but keeping track of where you are requires real mental work. At first you will start out easily enough, then perhaps realize that your mind has wandered to other thoughts, and suddenly you forget… “Where was I? 3700s or 3400s? Get the idea. Sounds so simple, but trust me, it will improve your ability to maintain focus and not make errors. As a side benefit my sight reading also improved because that is focus and concentration also. Best wishes from a cruise ship warrior.
 
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