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Discussion Starter #1
The title kind of says it. I finished my masters in Jazz Performance a few years ago. I looked around for a teaching gig right in the middle of when schools were laying off teachers, particularly music teachers, so I didn't find any work.

At the time, we had a daughter a little over a year old (now we have two kids) and I couldn't justify spending money on daycare just so that I could practice. My wife works a lot of hours including nights and weekends, so I decided to do the stay at home dad thing thinking that I would still get in some practice time during naps or after the kids are asleep.

The reality of it is that I just don't get much practice time in. I play gigs pretty regularly but I'm getting into that downward spiral of not practicing enough to have confidence in my playing to go looking for more gigs.

I'm also getting that frustrated feeling on gigs where I know I used to be able to play things that I can't pull off anymore.

All this has gotten me thinking that maybe I should take a break from playing till I can get time to shed again. I would still do gigs with my rock band but besides that the horn would pretty much stay in the case except for to keep my chops up to do the gigs.

Strange thing is that I don't know if this would be depressing or liberating, not having that constant nagging to get time in on the horn.

So that's where I am these days. I would appreciate any incite that others may have who have been in similar situations.
 

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I'm confused. Your problem is that you're not practicing and you getting worse. It is really bothering you so............you're solution is to take time off? How will that help your situation. It sounds like that is what's going on anyways from the way you described your situation. It sounds like your saying "I can't practice like I want so I'm not even gonna try". I was in the same situation 10 years ago. I had a couple of babies to take care of and my wife worked nights as a nurse. I had a hard time but I made the most of the situation. I would put the babies to bed around 7 and then go in another room on the other side of the house and practice my soprano really quietly. I would play to play alongs for 3-4 hours a night. My wife would make up around 10 and go to work. Of course I had a baby monitor in the room in case the kids woke up. The hard part for me was going to bed. I'd get all this energy from playing and then not be able to sleep. Finally fall asleep around 2-3 AM and the baby youngest baby would wake up at 5AM every morning . That was the hardest thing. I think if you have a will there is a way. To be honest those couple of years were the most fruitful practice time for me. Most of my books I have written originated from that time period believe it or not.

Also, make sure you don't fall into the "All or nothing mentality". Before that stage in my life I went through a massive depression and went to a counselor to talk once a week. It turned out I had what is called an "All or nothing " mentality. I had to do something all out full blast or it wasn't worth doing. I was depressed because I couldn't practice for 6-7 hours a day so I wasn't practicing at all. The guy said "Why don't you just practice a half hour where you can and be happy with that. I said because that won't get the job done and it's not worth doing then. He taught me that I just needed to do what I can and be happy with that. If all I could do was half an hour then do it and be happy with it. Doing a half hour is better than nothing and it is certainly better than sitting on the couch watching TV while you are depressed that you have no time to practice.
 

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I was in a similar situation but with guitar. I didnt have kids, just a lot of work commitments. dude, take a break if you want, there's no rules. if playin is getting to be more of a hassle, then dial it back to what you can just enjoy. if you're comfortable still playing in the rock band or whatever, you know all the licks and theres no surprises, then just enjoy that for a while. being a stay at home parent is probably stressful enough - playin your horn ought to be time you enjoy and can unwind, not stress further about whatever. Maybe some people have to push themselves to the limit every day, but I am not one of those people. So, my advice is if you're a stay at home dad right now, be the best stay at home dad that you can be and dont stress about practice. Or, get your kids a couple saxes and start a band.
 

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I'm confused. Your problem is that you're not practicing and you getting worse. It is really bothering you so............you're solution is to take time off? How will that help your situation. It sounds like that is what's going on anyways from the way you described your situation. It sounds like your saying "I can't practice like I want so I'm not even gonna try". I was in the same situation 10 years ago. I had a couple of babies to take care of and my wife worked nights as a nurse. I had a hard tim but I made the most of the situation. I would put the babies to bed around 7 and then go in another room on the other side of the house and practice my soprano really quietly. I would play to play alongs for 3-4 hours a night. My wife would make up around 10 and go to work. Of course I had a baby monitor in the room in case the kids woke up. The hard part for me was going to bed. I'd get all this energy from playing and then not be able to sleep. Finally fall asleep around 2-3 AM and the baby youngest baby would wake up at 5AM every morning . That was the hardest thing. I think if you have a will there is a way. To be honest those couple of years were the most fruitful practice time for me. Most of my books I have written originated from that time period believe it or not.

Also, make sure you don't fall into the "All or nothing mentality". Before that stage in my life I went through a massive depression and went to a counselor to talk once a week. It turned out I had what is called an "All or nothing " mentality. I had to do something all out full blast or it wasn't worth doing. I was depressed because I couldn't practice for 6-7 hours a day so I wasn't practicing at all. The guy said "Why don't you just practice a half hour where you can and be happy with that. I said because that won't get the job done and it's not worth doing then. He taught me that I just needed to do what I can and be happy with that. If all I could do was half an hour then do it and be happy with it. Doing a half hour is better than nothing and it is certainly better than sitting on the couch watching TV while you are depressed that you have no time to practice.
+1 common problem among musicians.
 

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I'm confused. Your problem is that you're not practicing and you getting worse. It is really bothering you so............you're solution is to take time off? How will that help your situation. It sounds like that is what's going on anyways from the way you described your situation. It sounds like your saying "I can't practice like I want so I'm not even gonna try". I was in the same situation 10 years ago. I had a couple of babies to take care of and my wife worked nights as a nurse. I had a hard tim but I made the most of the situation. I would put the babies to bed around 7 and then go in another room on the other side of the house and practice my soprano really quietly. I would play to play alongs for 3-4 hours a night. My wife would make up around 10 and go to work. Of course I had a baby monitor in the room in case the kids woke up. The hard part for me was going to bed. I'd get all this energy from playing and then not be able to sleep. Finally fall asleep around 2-3 AM and the baby youngest baby would wake up at 5AM every morning . That was the hardest thing. I think if you have a will there is a way. To be honest those couple of years were the most fruitful practice time for me. Most of my books I have written originated from that time period believe it or not.

Also, make sure you don't fall into the "All or nothing mentality". Before that stage in my life I went through a massive depression and went to a counselor to talk once a week. It turned out I had what is called an "All or nothing " mentality. I had to do something all out full blast or it wasn't worth doing. I was depressed because I couldn't practice for 6-7 hours a day so I wasn't practicing at all. The guy said "Why don't you just practice a half hour where you can and be happy with that. I said because that won't get the job done and it's not worth doing then. He taught me that I just needed to do what I can and be happy with that. If all I could do was half an hour then do it and be happy with it. Doing a half hour is better than nothing and it is certainly better than sitting on the couch watching TV while you are depressed that you have no time to practice.
+1 to everything you said Steve. I'm at the stay at home dad stage right now and I'm getting better than ever. I average about 2 hours a day of practice and sometimes I wont play for a couple days. When I do practice I stay extremely focused. I have the same problem as Steve where I have trouble shutting my mind off at night. I keep running fingerings in my head. The answer for me to get more sleep was force myself to hum softly or count down from 1,000 or yoga breathing. It really helps push all the stuff out of your head and soon you will be fast asleep.
 

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Hey, sounds like this would be a good time to enter the "less is more" period of improvisational development...plenty of space, say it with a few notes, etc. :) You can also introduce the very slow phrase technique, but it might be good to save that for when you break your hand or wrist playing with the kids!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It is comforting to know that I'm not the only one to go through this kind of thing. I appreciate your input Steve. I think you hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways. I went through a period like this a few years ago right after moving to a new city and buying an old house. I wasn't gigging yet and was spending a lot of time fixing up the house and was going through the same mental rut. After talking to the wife about it I decided to get my masters instead of taking a break--again though, all or nothing.

I'm going to try taking your advice from your second paragraph. Ultimately I think I'll be happier if I can do it.

What you guys are talking about with not being able to sleep because of music going through your head--When I'm not practicing enough I do that too or I'll walk around singing scale patterns to myself. I call it music hemorrhaging because it's like music leaking out of my brain.
 

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This is common to get caught up with other stuff and not play like you would like. My suggestion is to find a group of guys you can get along with to form (or join) a garage band where you just play for fun and to keep your hand in. I have done this several times over the past years. At the minimum you are going to play on the nights you meet, everyone has a good time, you can try new stuff, and you keep your skills up without getting burned out. It is a way to get past the burnout that all of us get.
 

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So far things are going pretty well. What I decided to do was to make some practice time for myself by waking up before everyone else and getting in an hour before the chaos begins. It does mean that I'm getting up around 5:30am and have the horn (and coffee) in hand by 6:00am. I'm a little more tired during the day and I have to practice with the E-Sax mute on, but at least this way I am pretty much guaranteed some practice time every day.
 

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So far things are going pretty well. What I decided to do was to make some practice time for myself by waking up before everyone else and getting in an hour before the chaos begins. It does mean that I'm getting up around 5:30am and have the horn (and coffee) in hand by 6:00am. I'm a little more tired during the day and I have to practice with the E-Sax mute on, but at least this way I am pretty much guaranteed some practice time every day.
good for you, nothing like some Me time with the horn even if it is super early. now you don't have to feel so bad when you miss a day.
 
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