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I don't think there's anyting better than knowing a tune so well that you can play it without the music. Learning it so that it's imbedded in your memory should allow you to use your ear better.

Now, having said that, I have a terrible memory - almost legendary. Ask my colleagues, ask anyone who's lived with me. Ask my mother. It goes waaaay back. Because of that I almost have to use music all the time. I get away from it when I can but not often. Why just the other day....uh........uh.....I....uh.?
 

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A momentary lapse in concentration can be devastating when playing from memory. I prefer to keep the road map handy, even though I probably wont use it.
 

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There's a (small) number of tunes I know and can just play without thinking. Then there's a bunch more which I sort of know but man it's nice to have the dots to look at if I get lost,so the sheet music is comforting. Then there's a zillion tunes I don't know and to compound it my sightreading is crap. So,if it's simple,I have a chance. The more complex tunes I must study before playing in front of people. Never be afraid to leave the stage at a jam.

At a recent jam another sax player called "Now's the Time". Of course I have heard it but never played it. it's simple (but pretty fast). The page was turned and it looked doable so I went for it. Trial by fire. Pulled it off nicely...I was sightreading cold! THAT was a gas. Wish I was as good a reader as many of you out there. I can't remember what I had for lunch.
 

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58tenor said:
. I can't remember what I had for lunch.
I can, but I have the same thing every day...there's a lesson or moral in here somewhere, however, I think I'm too tired to find it...
 

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gary said:
I don't think there's anyting better than knowing a tune so well that you can play it without the music. Learning it so that it's imbedded in your memory should allow you to use your ear better.
Absolutely! When I was in amateur bands as a teenager and 20-something I always memorised the entire set. I cannot possibly give my all musically and be trying to work out what happens next. I guess because it was not jazz and so less complicated songs I could do this more easily. But if I was going to a gig where I don't know what's going to get played then I'd definitely want a reference book, hopefully just as an aid memoire - scan through, recall how it goes, then play it from a (refreshed) memory, but the book is there just in case - something like that perhaps?

gary said:
Now, having said that, I have a terrible memory - almost legendary. Ask my colleagues, ask anyone who's lived with me. Ask my mother. It goes waaaay back. Because of that I almost have to use music all the time. I get away from it when I can but not often. Why just the other day....uh........uh.....I....uh.?
I have exactly the same problem. I'm really struggling even remembering scales let alone heads or changes. It's really slowing me down :|
 

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Rick Adams said:
I cannot possibly give my all musically and be trying to work out what happens next. I guess because it was not jazz and so less complicated songs I could do this more easily.... :|
It might be worth pointing out that most jazz heads are fairly simple. It's the improv part where it gets interesting.

I think if you really play better by having the music at hand, or by sight reading, then that's fine. In my case, I definitely play better when I have it memorized. Clearly, there are situations where charts are useful, though. I once sat in with Mitch Woods and his sax player had charts. At first I thought, "it's jump blues, what does he need those charts for, and why would I need them?" Then when the music started I was glad for the charts, since I didn't have to guess at the horn lines and was able to play right along with the other sax player. When I had a solo, I just looked away and played. There's a time & place for everything.
 
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