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I'm a freshman music education major at a large state university that shall remain nameless. Within it, the music department is pretty small. My saxophone studio is about 15 people, most of whom are music ed majors, and it seems that many/all of them are crazy about playing saxophone. I don't mean it's just that they really like it. I mean that I feel like IT'S ALL THEY EVER DO. Some claim that they practice 5 hours a day (and I don't know how they even have time for that as ed majors, because I don't unless I don't ever want to sleep). And sometimes it seems as though they look down on me for not wanting to practice that much, too. Even our professor told us, when asked during a masterclass how much he practiced as an undergrad, that he started off as a freshman/sophomore practicing 2-4 hours a day and by the time he was a senior, practiced 6-7 hours a day. Granted he was a performance major, but still.

I really want to teach music - preferably high school band - and think it is one of the few careers I will be happy doing. But one of the reasons I want to teach band is because SAXOPHONE ISN'T MY WHOLE LIFE, and I never want it to be, which I realized after I got to college. I have other interests, too. I want to have a life...to me, doing nothing but practicing isn't really a life. Am I in the wrong line of work if I only want to practice 2-3 hours a day? Is it typical for college saxophone studios to spend this much time practicing? What, if anything, should I do about it? Will the other saxophonists hate me if I don't practice more?
 

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2-3 sounds healthy for a music ed major. Don't believe the hypers. I remember undergrad performance majors that would eat cheetos, check email and chat it up in the practice room hallways for hours on end and claim to be "practicing."
 

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I'm a freshman music education major at a large state university that shall remain nameless. Within it, the music department is pretty small. My saxophone studio is about 15 people, most of whom are music ed majors, and it seems that many/all of them are crazy about playing saxophone. I don't mean it's just that they really like it. I mean that I feel like IT'S ALL THEY EVER DO. Some claim that they practice 5 hours a day (and I don't know how they even have time for that as ed majors, because I don't unless I don't ever want to sleep). And sometimes it seems as though they look down on me for not wanting to practice that much, too. Even our professor told us, when asked during a masterclass how much he practiced as an undergrad, that he started off as a freshman/sophomore practicing 2-4 hours a day and by the time he was a senior, practiced 6-7 hours a day. Granted he was a performance major, but still.

I really want to teach music - preferably high school band - and think it is one of the few careers I will be happy doing. But one of the reasons I want to teach band is because SAXOPHONE ISN'T MY WHOLE LIFE, and I never want it to be, which I realized after I got to college. I have other interests, too. I want to have a life...to me, doing nothing but practicing isn't really a life. Am I in the wrong line of work if I only want to practice 2-3 hours a day? Is it typical for college saxophone studios to spend this much time practicing? What, if anything, should I do about it? Will the other saxophonists hate me if I don't practice more?
I want to get my degree in jazz saxophone(performance and education are not seperate were i live) and i expect to be practicing for at least 8 hours a day. Why do you want to get a major in music when it isn;t you life. That's basicly the main prerequisite if you what to do anything with music for a living.
 

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Am I in the wrong line of work if I only want to practice 2-3 hours a day? Is it typical for college saxophone studios to spend this much time practicing? What, if anything, should I do about it? Will the other saxophonists hate me if I don't practice more?
My answers (with the caveat I did not study music in college) to these questions are: No. I don't know. Do what works for you, as long as you are doing well enough. Some might, but if they do they are insecure jerks, and hopefully will grow out of that.

Sounds like there is some (maybe a lot) of posturing and competitiveness going on there. I have seen that in other fields ("I studied for 7 hours straight!" "Oh, yeah? I studied for 7 days straight, and wore a diaper so I wouldn't waste time going to the bathroom.") This is understandable, since they may have some (very reasonable) fears that they won't be able to get a job unless they can be better than everyone else. Law and pre-med and some engineering programs can also be pretty cutthroat.

I think you are wise to realize that there is more to life than playing sax. Practicing 2-3 hours a day, if done efficiently, is pretty good. You want to be a teacher, and that requires more than just playing skills - you need teaching skills, people skills, and organizational skills. You won't get those sitting in a practice room. There are plenty of great players who are crappy teachers. I think you are on the right track.
 

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I think some of your classmates are kind of naieve and perhaps lacking in "street smarts."

You seem to have a good handle on "work smarter, not harder."
 

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It isn't about the quantity of hours, but the quality of those hours.

When I went for my degree, I would practice 6-7 hours a day. As my studies progressed and I advanced as a player, I lowered that time to 3 hours while still achieving the same end result.

If you sincerely want to teach music, you won't be doing nearly any playing. Do not sacrifice your studies in other classes for your abilities on the horn. Excellent teaching technique, proper knowledge of CCS', etc. are more important than being able to play your diminished scales in inverted 3rds.

With your current schedule, as long as those 2-3 hours are QUALITY hours and not you screwing around, you'll do just fine. Don't worry about the others in your studio. What's that saying I've heard? "Haters gonna hate" or something to that effect.

Good luck! Teaching music isn't all it is cracked up to be, filled with politics and pretty much eating up your entire life (especially since you mentioned you wanted to teach HS band). Say goodbye to your summers and pretty much all of your free time from July through December. Take these things into consideration before diving in head first.

- Saxaholic
 

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The job market for band directors is tight and getting tighter. You will be competing for jobs with those same people who are devoting their lives to becoming better musicians. If you want to teach, you better have at least one area of music where you excel. Composition/arranging, conducting or performing are all possibilities. Your students deserve to learn from an outstanding musician.

Don't plan to just have a job........

It is a waste of your time and money to spend more than four years at a university to prepare for a career that pays as little as teaching if you do not truly love what you will be doing. If you are looking for just a job, check out the other departments that offer career tracks that pay more , and where you will not be influencing young people every day of your working life.
 

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Teachers with lives? Hahahahahahahaha....
 

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The job market for band directors is tight and getting tighter. You will be competing for jobs with those same people who are devoting their lives to becoming better musicians. If you want to teach, you better have at least one area of music where you excel. Composition/arranging, conducting or performing are all possibilities. Your students deserve to learn from an outstanding musician.

Don't plan to just have a job........

It is a waste of your time and money to spend more than four years at a university to prepare for a career that pays as little as teaching if you do not truly love what you will be doing. If you are looking for just a job, check out the other departments that offer career tracks that pay more , and where you will not be influencing young people every day of your working life.
Very good advice with one caveat: most band directors don't play their saxophones much any more. If our poster gets a thrill in front of a band, preparing 100 kids for competitions, and inspiring the next generation of musicians then he has absolutely picked the right field. I know lots of INCREDIBLE band directors that are so-so on their instruments. They love being teachers more than performers.
 

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Yes, vivace1, you are exactly right. That is what I want to do. It's not that I don't like playing/performing saxophone but what I'd rather do is teach band and do exactly what you described. I used to want to be a performance major, but I came to realize I love the sound of the wind ensemble far more than I love the sound of my own horn. And that's what I want for my future students as well. I'm not going to have a career as a solo sax player and I never will want that kind of life. Which is why I came to college to be a well-rounded musician and teacher, not just a sax player. I understand that teaching is a lot of commitment, especially with marching band, but I think concert band and marching band are the best parts about it. I'm sure I won't have a lot of free time during the marching season, but I wouldn't feel the pressure to spend all day practicing so I can record an album or play a recital. It's a different kind of time commitment.
 

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You plan to teach band first and foremost and you love it?
Then sax is just your tool of choice - among all the others. Make sure you're doing good enough on it, and on one or two or three others too.

I would guess your peers may be trying to go full performance, but fear to be left without a job and chose the music ed path as a bit of a safety net.
 

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Practicing 6-7+ hours a day, every day? No thanks. At the risk of sounding like a bum, I have to honestly say that I don't think I've ever wanted ANYTHING that badly.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Mikkeos, yes, that sounds about right. According to my sax professor, I'm doing really well. And it does seem as though they're interested in performance. Maybe it just so happens that's what most of them want.
 
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