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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been playing for 6 years and I'm a junior in high school. Music is my complete passion and soul, I feel like I'm missing my heart when my time is void of music. I even plan on majoring in some form of music in college.....
But recently when I practice, I just can't do it. I'm so confused all of a sudden and I honestly don't know what to do, how to manage my time, ect. I've been trying to use stuff by Tim Price, because I have no way of actually getting lessons, but it's far from working for me.
Should I do everything by ear and avoid sheet music, would that be productive?
How do I REALLY practice my improv?
I think I need a straight recharge, and rethinking of EVERY way I practice.

What do you think is the best way to practice, in profound details, for a junior aiming for music college?

thanks guys, I'd really, really appreciate the help!!
 

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Sounds like your learning may have hit a plateau. It happens in all sort of learning situations. It will pass. A little time off might help. Everyone is different.
 

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Spend a day working on different kinds of trills.

Then the trill will be back.
 

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Sounds like your learning may have hit a plateau. It happens in all sort of learning situations. It will pass. A little time off might help. Everyone is different.
+1

What were you working on before?

Edit : do you play in a band?
 

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Be patient with yourself and try making some changes. There are some really good articles on practice sessions here and on the web pages of some of the members. And maybe give yourself a break and relax a little. I started music studies when I was six and I'm 61 now. Everyone has times when it loses some of the shine. It will come back. Remember to have fun and not take it all too seriously.
 

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You more or less answered the question already, take a break and DO that rethinking. make an honest assesment of where you are now, what are your strong points, in what area's you really need to improve. What kind of sound / style you really would love to play, who are your heroes ?
Where's the comparison between you and them. where are the differences. Is it sound, rythm, harmonic awareness, speed, technical facillity, swing, cleaness of your lines, maybe less notes, the abillity to tell a story ? Having a good teacher could really be helpful in this proces.
I found Steve Neff's video lessons very inspiring for myself both as a player and as a teacher. Check that out too, I think he does the skype thing too nowadays. I think he has a lesson on the subject, but talking/playing too him personally through skype would of course be better.
and don't worry too much about what you are going through now, most of the players experienced the same thing and came out on top.
 

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I met and talked with Paul Desmond once at a High school evening Concert. I asked "how do you improvise?" He told me it is after listening to your absolute favorite Sax players "by Ear" your brain picks up many, many little riffs ..some will thrill you and some will cause good moods, bad moods, some are exciting..some are sad etc.
Then you practice these riffs a lot and you will become abled to create tunes and include these in parts or the whole riff.
Improvising: now you can take ANY Melody and try to inject some of these Riffs or make up your own with feelings and skills
 

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a musical plateau is not always a bad thing. I always believe that the degree of our passion is seen in the degree of our pursuit.
do not be denied. Music can always be approached differently. As per suggest, try new things. Try jamming. Try joining a band.
there was a time, I put myself on a strict "music diet" of only listening and not practising. Trust me, by the 7th day, I am practising harder than I ever was, with a passion. :)
well, may not work for everyone but it worked for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks guys. Your comments are rather motivating. Just to answer some questions asked by some of you:
I play in a high school symphonic band, and the senior jazz band. I also play in and partly lead a personal jazz combo of five. The combo meets unfortunately only for an hour after school once a week, because of others' schedules though.

What I was previously doing in my practice time was playing all major, natural and harmonic minor scales through and then playing the range of the horn in thirds on each scale. Then I'd work on a song, Donna Lee currently, from the CP Omnibook. I'd also arpeggiate the chords on a song from the Real Book. I was also took a couple solo licks from Tim Prices stuff on this site and memorized it in one key and tried to play it and memorize it in all other keys without looking at the sheet, so by ear. And that was going /extremely/ slow. Occasionally I'd do long tones with a tuner.

One thing I actually started doing recently was tonging exercises. Come to find out, i've went 6 years without physically tonging and doing well enough to be the best where I go. Even being number one tenor in Southern New England Honors Band. But I decided, to do the Charlie Parker thing and actually do it the right way when I found out I wasn't before.
 

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Should I do everything by ear and avoid sheet music, would that be productive?
How do I REALLY practice my improv?
YES.

Regarding the 'thrill is gone' phenomemon, welcome to life. This will happen time and again with everything you are passionate about. The good news is, if you're patient and stick with it, and/or take some time off and do something else, the thrill will return. You'll ocassionally discover something new which will put the pizzazz right back in. The deeper the subject (and music is very deep), the more you'll discover over time. Those 'perfect moments' (to steal a lyric from Mose Allison) are pretty rare, but they make it all worthwhile. It's been a LONG time since I was your age, but I remember well being really excited about something, only to find disappointment in a fairly short time. You get used to it, move on, and learn what it means to keep searching and digging deeper.

Maybe get away from Donna Lee and all that heavy bebop (temporarily) and blow some blues too...
 
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