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I think I've reached a point in my life where it's really no longer about the saxophone, mouthpiece, or reeds etc..... It's become a mental game of life long study and sole searching. Listen, Learn, try to apply with mixed results then back to listen and learn.

Gaining confidence as a player also runs hot and cold. Personally I find confidence to be such a mysterious puzzle. I'm beginning to think that there may be some genetics involved but only speculating. I envy the players that forge ahead regardless of ability. Those remarkable individuals who are impervious to 'what others think' and don't struggle with or have overcome self-doubt - I can't wait to reach that level.

Some suggest that being self critical and in a constant state of 'unhappiness' regarding our abilities is what drives us to continue to grow. I guess that makes sense but it's also the sort of thing that can easily push us into depression - fighting wind mills.

In any case, it's no longer about the saxophone.
 

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Somewhere in one of the Aebersold books, he says something like "learning an instrument is an exercise in patience". I hadn't thought of that angle before I read that, but there's a lot of truth to it. If I think about all the things I don't know and can't do, or on how so many other people are so incredibly better than I'll ever be, etc., etc., it would be easy to get discouraged. On the other hand, if I try to remind myself that this is a long-run exercise in patience, I can still make slow and steady improvement.

Of course, I'm an old guy and I'm only playing for my own enjoyment, so if I just focus on getting a little better each day, on trying to learn one or two things each day, after 365 days, I've definitely made some progress. I'll never be good, but I can always be better than I am now. If I try to just focus on how I'll at least be better a month from now (even if I'll never be able to play like I wish I could) then it makes it an attainable goal. But patience with slow and steady gradual improvement is required. Or at least it is for me . . . ;)
 

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Those remarkable individuals who are impervious to 'what others think' and don't struggle with or have overcome self-doubt - I can't wait to reach that level.

Some suggest that being self critical and in a constant state of 'unhappiness' regarding our abilities is what drives us to continue to grow. I guess that makes sense but it's also the sort of thing that can easily push us into depression - fighting wind mills.

In any case, it's no longer about the saxophone.
My experience and observation is that those who continually lack confidence are trying to play what they don't know. It's not a bad thing to know that you don't know certain things. It's a bad thing when someone has to tell the player that he can't play. You can turn to Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane for inspiration. They practiced like madmen and overcame most of that self-doubt. (It's always there. It's human nature--- especially among artists and musicians--- unless one's personality lies somewhere high on the psychopathic spectrum). Though he wasn't addressing the issue of self-doubt in the interview, Jimmy Heath compared Coltrane's approach to a tune's improvisation to Rollins'. In essence, Heath observed that Coltrane approached a song as a problem to be solved. (This is eminently clear when one listens to the 20+ takes that Coltrane did in the original "Giant Steps" sessions). On the other hand, Rollins , Heath said, approached a tune to take ownership of it.

Being self-critical doesn't have to be a state of unhappiness. If one finds himself fighting windmills, he's practicing the wrong things or he doesn't know what he wants to accomplish. In a recent interview, Rollins talks about having to quit playing because he has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He said that he was angry because he couldn't continue to practice in order to become the musician that he wanted to be, to learn the things that he wanted to learn. Has Rollins been fighting windmills during his entire career?

I say no. Rollins was trying to own all of those windmills.

Coltrane? Depending upon his various stages of development, he was either trying to find the windmills, make the windmills go faster, or make them go away.

Buck up. You'll get out of music what you put into it.

Caveat: I am not a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist.
 

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Somewhere in one of the Aebersold books, he says something like "learning an instrument is an exercise in patience". I hadn't thought of that angle before I read that, but there's a lot of truth to it. If I think about all the things I don't know and can't do, or on how so many other people are so incredibly better than I'll ever be, etc., etc., it would be easy to get discouraged. On the other hand, if I try to remind myself that this is a long-run exercise in patience, I can still make slow and steady improvement.

Of course, I'm an old guy and I'm only playing for my own enjoyment, so if I just focus on getting a little better each day, on trying to learn one or two things each day, after 365 days, I've definitely made some progress. I'll never be good, but I can always be better than I am now. If I try to just focus on how I'll at least be better a month from now (even if I'll never be able to play like I wish I could) then it makes it an attainable goal. But patience with slow and steady gradual improvement is required. Or at least it is for me . . . ;)
Why say you'll never be good ?
 

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I gave up on 'perfection' a long time ago. I'm probably as good as I'm going to get so I strive only to maintain the current skill level.
If I can say, "That wasn't too bad" after a practice session or performance I'm happy. :)
 

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Why say you'll never be good ?
Well, obviously "good" is completely subjective, and relative to one's own standards. ;) But apart from that, I'm 61, came to the sax relatively late in life, and probably don't have the time (and very possibly not the natural aptitude necessary) to be what I would regard as "good" -- again, just according to my own standard. I guess "good" would amount to being able to play the kind of music that interests me most and play it well; I'll never get there, but it's OK. There's still lots of enjoyment to be derived from playing short of that standard, playing what I can play, as well as I can play it.

On a related point, though, I have had a kind of recent, useful insight; something that I guess I've always known, but the importance of which I hadn't really fully appreciated before. It's this: you don't have to play a lot of notes to sound good. There are guys who don't play a lot of notes, but they have a great tone -- often very personal, and attractive in their own, distinct way.

So I've been focusing more on playing long tones and trying to at least improve my tone. Hey, you can only do what you can do. ;)
 

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Well, obviously "good" is completely subjective, and relative to one's own standards. ;) But apart from that, I'm 61, came to the sax relatively late in life, and probably don't have the time (and very possibly not the natural aptitude necessary) to be what I would regard as "good" -- again, just according to my own standard. I guess "good" would amount to being able to play the kind of music that interests me most and play it well; I'll never get there, but it's OK. There's still lots of enjoyment to be derived from playing short of that standard, playing what I can play, as well as I can play it.

On a related point, though, I have had a kind of recent, useful insight; something that I guess I've always known, but the importance of which I hadn't really fully appreciated before. It's this: you don't have to play a lot of notes to sound good. There are guys who don't play a lot of notes, but they have a great tone -- often very personal, and attractive in their own, distinct way.

So I've been focusing more on playing long tones and trying to at least improve my tone. Hey, you can only do what you can do. ;)
I like your attitude about it just thought for a second you might be limiting yourself ahead of time . Play on, sir .
 

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What did Hal Galper say ? Something like: ' there is no instrument there '.

The song is you .
+1. I was reading the thread and thinking about Galper's great lesson, "The Illusion of an Instrument", which is on You Tube.

I can really relate to what the OP is talking about. I have only lately realized how self-criticism and self-judgement are different. You can be pretty sternly objective that "I need to work on a ton of stuff " but thoughts like "I suck" or "I'll never be good enough " are just roadblocks in themselves. There's a whole psych literature about this stuff that I won't go into, except to quote Jon Kanayo-Zimmerman (from a different context): "confusion, fatigue, depression, and anxiety can undermine your best intentions to practice regularly. You can easily get caught up and then stuck in them and not even know it."
So when the OP says he "can't wait " to get to the level of those who are "impervious " to self doubt, I wonder about a couple of things. First, whether anyone is impervious. And second, maybe it's the fact that they could be critical but not judgements like about what they were doing that enabled them to work so hard for so long. Everyone knows that story that Parker told about practicing 10 or 12 hours a day for several years. How did it feel on day 2? Or day 6? Besides massive talent to develop he must have had a belief and a way to create space to develop it in (at least my impression from bios I've read).
So, "I'll be confident when I'm as good as I want to be" may be backwards and self defeating. The confidence has to come first but it is NOT the same as having the illusion that you are better than you are, which is what the "no pain no gain" crowd will say. It's just focusing on the now and what you are trying to do.
 

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Sorry, I meant Jon Kabat-Zinn. How I hate autocorrect. It had made me make far more embarrassing errors than this.

+1. I was reading the thread and thinking about Galper's great lesson, "The Illusion of an Instrument", which is on You Tube.

I can really relate to what the OP is talking about. I have only lately realized how self-criticism and self-judgement are different. You can be pretty sternly objective that "I need to work on a ton of stuff " but thoughts like "I suck" or "I'll never be good enough " are just roadblocks in themselves. There's a whole psych literature about this stuff that I won't go into, except to quote Jon Kanayo-Zimmerman (from a different context): "confusion, fatigue, depression, and anxiety can undermine your best intentions to practice regularly. You can easily get caught up and then stuck in them and not even know it."
So when the OP says he "can't wait " to get to the level of those who are "impervious " to self doubt, I wonder about a couple of things. First, whether anyone is impervious. And second, maybe it's the fact that they could be critical but not judgements like about what they were doing that enabled them to work so hard for so long. Everyone knows that story that Parker told about practicing 10 or 12 hours a day for several years. How did it feel on day 2? Or day 6? Besides massive talent to develop he must have had a belief and a way to create space to develop it in (at least my impression from bios I've read).
So, "I'll be confident when I'm as good as I want to be" may be backwards and self defeating. The confidence has to come first but it is NOT the same as having the illusion that you are better than you are, which is what the "no pain no gain" crowd will say. It's just focusing on the now and what you are trying to do.
 

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I think I've reached a point in my life where it's really no longer about the saxophone, mouthpiece, or reeds etc..... It's become a mental game of life long study and sole searching. Listen, Learn, try to apply with mixed results then back to listen and learn.

Gaining confidence as a player also runs hot and cold. Personally I find confidence to be such a mysterious puzzle. I'm beginning to think that there may be some genetics involved but only speculating. I envy the players that forge ahead regardless of ability. Those remarkable individuals who are impervious to 'what others think' and don't struggle with or have overcome self-doubt - I can't wait to reach that level.

Some suggest that being self critical and in a constant state of 'unhappiness' regarding our abilities is what drives us to continue to grow. I guess that makes sense but it's also the sort of thing that can easily push us into depression - fighting wind mills.

In any case, it's no longer about the saxophone.
Me too, it's about the piano now. Phil Barone
 

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I gave up on 'perfection' a long time ago. I'm probably as good as I'm going to get so I strive only to maintain the current skill level.
I certainly don't have any illusions about becoming a virtuoso, or even a professional-caliber player at this stage of my life, but I can say that I am definitely a better saxophonist than I was, say, 10 years ago. And this is after starting on clarinet at age 8 and alto sax at age 15. I've found that practicing the fundamentals can still yield modest but recognizable gains in technique, tone quality, and interpretative ability even after decades of playing.
 

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My Queen was the most amazing woman. She possessed the consciousness of empathy, sexuality, intelligence, selflessness, devotion, love, and CONFIDENCE.
It's NEVER about the saxophone. When I met her, she indicated that it would never be her job to make me happy. She said that I needed to be happy in my LOLLIPOP world, so she could be an addition to my happiness. On a scale from 1-10, I'm a solid level 2 saxophone guy. On scale from 1-10, I'm a level 25 on internal Confidence and Happiness...
 

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Yes....it’s never been about the saxophone. It’s been about you since The beginning....
 

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Some suggest that being self critical and in a constant state of 'unhappiness' regarding our abilities is what drives us to continue to grow. I guess that makes sense but it's also the sort of thing that can easily push us into depression - fighting wind mills.
I used to be like this when I was younger in my 15-25 year old stage. I didn't even know I was doing it but I would be super critical and unhappy with everything I did and it would fuel my need to get in the practice room and get better. It was a bad cycle. The more negative and critical I was of myself the more I would practice and the harder I would work. I was afraid that if I felt great about myself and my playing that I would stop working so hard. It did drive me to work hard but the negative side of that is that I was never good enough in my mind. Years later, I went through a pretty bad depression and got some counseling. The guy had me read a book entitled "Feeling Good" by David Burns that was awesome. He told me that I had an "All or nothing" mentality. That really helped me out. Check out the book! Here are some of the points in it that mess up our thinking:

https://www.anxiety-videos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Top-10-thought-distortions.pdf

There is a lot in there that I was guilty of. Once you see it and understand what you are doing then you can get ahead of it and try to stop the thought processes that are so bad for you. The important thing for me was disconnecting those bad ways of thinking from my motivation to practice and get better. That was hard as I had been training myself to think and motivate myself that way for like 15 years. Like I said though, understanding the thought processes and seeing the reality of how bad they are helps to stop them. That book really changed my life. As an example, I would never ever have started my website or put one clip of myself on it or one video lesson of myself unless I had learned these things. I always hated my recordings and I hate watching myself speak. I was never good enough. I still struggle with those thoughts but now I see them for what they are and just move past them. Hope this helps in some way. Steve
 

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You've got to enjoy what you are doing. Yes, it's good to be critical but at the end of the day you have to enjoy it otherwise what's the point?
 
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