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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
SOTW, where have you been all my sax playing years?!! I cannot find the words to adequately describe the feeling in discovering this forum. I am what would qualify as a "late bloomer", having picked up a saxophone 7 years ago (at the age of 30). And in my pursuit of self-expression through the sax, I've found myself engrossed in what has turned out to be quite an adventure...one that has had me delightfully navigating the many wonderful aspects of music-making as I find my way, whether it be as musician, as philosopher, as student, or as scientist.

Don't know why it's taken me until now to find this forum. It's not like I haven't been using the Internet to look for any resources to aid me with my learning curves. Guess there's so much sax material on the web to sift through that I either didn't find SOTW or perhaps overlooked its significance.

I happened upon SOTW last month, and have been taking the time to discover the different threads...all the while gushing with joy, smiles, laughter/tears as the feeling came over me that I've found my band of brothers/sisters...no longer do I have to feel like I'm experiencing a wonderful journey in my own mind...indeed there are others who do feel the same things that I have felt and speak at length about the saxophone minutiae that I find endlessly intriguing. Can't tell you how many times I've tried to articulate/share my wonderment of playing the sax with others only to find I've said way too much to which my listeners could not relate...ugg, lots of blank stares. :(

Anyhow, in SOTW I've already found much inspiration, much education. And I've sensed such a warm sense of camaraderie that is shared among forum participants. :)

So as a way of giving back and hopefully providing something to which other late bloomers can relate and find encouraging, I am posting an excerpt from a personal blog of mine, something I wrote 3 years ago to help me get a handle on what it was that made playing the sax such an addiction for me. I am happy to say that at 7 years of playing, I am now on my second horn and am as addicted as ever! I've certainly still got a lot of learning to do, but am continually finding ways to fall in love with playing the sax.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

an ongoing musical adventure
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when i picked up a saxophone 4 years ago, i had no idea where it would take me, what adventures i would have, what transformations were in store for me. what did i *really* know of music?...all i knew was that i had frequently been moved by the sound of a saxophone and that jazz was typically the musical genre in which it was used...but i couldn't read one note, harry connick jr. was my primary reference point for jazz, and the couple of years' worth of piano/guitar lessons as an adolescent had proven futile long ago...ancient history.

not so sure what gave me the conviction on that fateful day, to spend a bundle on the instrument with the hopes of soon taking a few lessons, but when i stop and ponder my current standing in life, i marvel at how profoundly this horn has reshaped my existence and am utterly grateful that--despite the odds which i feared were against me as one without any significant musical education and one who was somewhat "too old" to be taking on an endeavor like this--the horn is still with me, having become my ever faithful sidekick on this journey.

how to even begin describing my experience thus far?...i guess one of the most striking aspects for me in learning to play music--in particular learning to improvise as one typically would in playing a music such as jazz--is the wonderment one experiences as you move from an intial point at which the left and right brain are seemingly disconnected, to my current circumstances wherein the left and right brain are collaborating in a subconscious manner, such that the music-making process is always an adventure for the music-maker.

as a beginner your left brain is called upon to assimilate all the musical notation describing scales/chords, to relate the written symbols to the corresponding combinations of keys on the instrument so that you can finger the horn properly, and then govern the actions of your fingering so as to become more technically proficient as you move from one note to another on the horn. you are also required to learn the proper mechanics of technique with regards to breathing through your horn, articulating notes with your tongue, and properly using the muscles of your mouth, jaw, throat, etc. this is where you definitely grapple with the academic aspect of playing music and the mechanical aspect of training your fingers and breathing apparatus to execute properly. it definitely feels like work/study. practicing your scales, reading/playing musical pieces that are didactic in nature, technical drills, etc.

meanwhile, your right brain is recruited for what seems to be a task of a completely different nature--that of absorbing/appreciating/discerning the manner in which other musicians communicate their musical ideas/emotions via differences in tonal shading, phrasing of statements, musical idiom, articulation, volume, tempo, etc. indeed, it is a vast and highly varied musical landscape to take in, one that i am forever working to digest and one that serves to inform my own musical expression and aspirations. this however does *not* feel like work at all (assuming that you are listening to and emulating music that you thoroughly enjoy, which is the whole point...if not, then why bother?). it is more akin to the act of watching a movie and acknowledging how and why the movie moved you to laugh, cry, jump in fear, shift to the edge of your seat, etc. and then, upon noting and gauging all these emotional responses, letting your imagination play with all the "what if" scenarios that would result if you could someday play director--change the lighting in one scene, interject different dialogue in another, insert an additional action sequence...it is here where much of the fun begins.

so given what i've described, at the outset there seemed to be two very different modes of engaging the music. but, as you spend more time on your instrument (whether improvising freely or mechanically going through your scales) and more time absorbing the kind of music you are hoping to play well someday, something very interesting occurs along the way...and it occurs without you really knowing --> it seems as if your left and right hemispheres start exchanging information, in a manner unbeknownst to you, such that the act of playing your instrument becomes more and more like an experiment unraveling right before your very eyes (or perhaps more appropriately, your very ears)! you begin to play new things...new musical "words" become part of your expression, followed in time by "phrases", followed then by lengthier and more complex statements, statements which reflect both what you've been listening to and hoping to emulate all along and what is uniquely your own manner of expression/delivery...all this while staying within the desired boundaries of harmony and song form, and without you having consciously premeditated on the explicit addition of these components to your repertoire...it's as if your fingers, which you previously had to instruct quite deliberately on how to move with each note, at some point took on a life of their own, gliding above the keys and taking you along for the ride! so it almost feels like there are two of you in these moments--the one of you who is performing and the other of you who is listening and delighting in what is being created.

as this occurs with more frequency and magnitude, you learn to ride these waves of intuition, to harness them, and to stay longer with this euphoric, trance-like state for the sake of exploring whatever musical possibilities present themselves from moment to moment. i cannot say enough how thrilling an experience this is...a "rush" indeed!!! it's almost as if, at some point, you attain the ability to play such that all the details of academics, theory, technique, and mechanics disappear, and all that you are left with is pure expression/emotion...i daresay it's even as if the horn itself "disappears", or at most serves as a simple conduit for your expression.

and as your musical "diction" expands in this way, you find that in turn, both your ability to hear things (i mean really *hear*) and your capacity for emotional expression/response become increasingly fine in their granularity.
 

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Welcome to the asylum.
 

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It is truly amazing how many of us perhaps share this story. How as beginners we are told to "learn everything so you can forget it", being driven to frustration and tears over it but chugging along anyway until that moment years from the beginning on a stage when you have that out-of-body experience and almost "watch yourself" perform as its happening. Trance-like, dream-like states of euphoria and bliss.

I know that after a wicked set (usually over an hour at a time) when I played some kick as solos and such I'm high as a kite, even if I'm completely sober, but now this is for another thread!

Welcome to SOTW, I'm new here too. So I'll see you around.
 

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Welcome to SOTW!!! (from another late bloomer)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
tjontheroad said:
Nice first post dude :) Welcome.

now turn off your computer and go practice... (yeah right ;) )
Thanks! actually, was able to get in a half-hour of playing this morning before work...great way to start the day! :)

And thanks to the other greetings of welcome.
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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"SOTW, where have you been all my sax playing years?!! "

My feelings too on discovering this forum. So nice to know that there are fellow obsessives all over the world. It really makes a difference.

Welcome.
 

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Welcome jazzcitizen! It sounds like you are really enjoying the journey - bravo!

Regards,

Jim
 

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Welcome jazzcitizen. Your real name doesn't happen to be ee cummings does it? No wait, that can't be because ee cummings is deceased. I think he probably would have had a lot of trouble playing sax though because one really needs to use the pinky keys to acheive any kind of mastery over the beast.

Perhaps you've noticed a lot of our posts are rife with sarcastic and smarta"* remarks. Seriously, welcome aboard.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
jrvinson45 said:
Perhaps you've noticed a lot of our posts are rife with sarcastic and smarta"* remarks. Seriously, welcome aboard.
well, that's one of the biggest reasons i've joined the forum community! ;)

that and the diversity of knowledge that forum members bring to discussion...nice to to have the references to history, philosophy, literature, etc. to enrich all the discussions.

(yes, when email/internet became a cornerstone of my life, saw the benefit in adopting ee cummings stylistic preferences...shift key shmift key!! :) )
 

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The only time I'm really case-sensitive is when the case doesn't fit in the overhead rack on the airlines....
 

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jrvinson45 said:
Welcome jazzcitizen. Your real name doesn't happen to be ee cummings does it? No wait, that can't be because ee cummings is deceased. I think he probably would have had a lot of trouble playing sax though because one really needs to use the pinky keys to acheive any kind of mastery over the beast.

Perhaps you've noticed a lot of our posts are rife with sarcastic and smarta"* remarks. Seriously, welcome aboard.

I second all of the above. ee cummings was a charming fellow. Sax player, no.
 

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jazzcitizen said:
Can't tell you how many times I've tried to articulate/share my wonderment of playing the sax with others only to find I've said way too much to which my listeners could not relate...ugg, lots of blank stares. :(
Isn't it odd how few people are interested in the entire life story of Adolphe Sax, or the peculiarities of the contrabass sax? I fail to understand their obtuseness.:D

Welcome aboard. Hang on, though: it's a little like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter. . . .
 
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