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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,
Just wanted to discuss what I'm (musically) going through right now and hear from anyone who can empathize with me and give me some sound suggestions on how to handle what I think is "musical burn-out"

First, I have been playing saxophone for over 35 years and in all of those years I've either been in a school band or a gigging band. I've recently started to buy backing tracks with the idea of doing my own gigs when gigs with the bands I play with are slow. I have played duos and trips before, so playing the solo gig is not a far reach.

I've been shedding on the solo with backing tracks for about 5 to 7 hours a day, 6 days a week for 1 1/2months and I'd say within the last two weeks, I just have lost my motivation to do the work...I don't know what to make of it. I have about 68 songs that I am currently fine tuning. Today, practice was terrible. It's like I was just going through the motions. My solos sucked...If anyone can share their experiences with this and possible solutions, I'd be most appreciative.

My first thought was to take a few days off and come back...oops, I did that. Today was my first day back in the shed for 3 days...same result.

Regards,

saxmanfromparadise
[email protected]
 

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I think everyone goes through occasional spells like this. But my first reaction is that it has something to do with playing with backing tracks instead of a band. I could never get much, if any, satisfaction playing with a backing track (except for practicing). I need the interaction of playing with other LIVE musicians. Don't know if this is really the issue, but it might be.
 

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It could be in the back of your mind that you're doing a hell of a lot of work and that what you get out of it is likely not going to be much, either financially or in musical satisfaction. That feeling is probably what give me the doldrums more than anything.
 

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This is common, I think. I practice with my own backing tracks, and after a short while I get really tired of hearing my own accompaniments. It was worse when I was using Aebersolds and worse still when the tracks were band-in-a-box.

My treatment for burnout is to have enough tunes to give myself some variety. When necessary, I make more tracks.

It also helps to spend a day practicing other things. Scales, licks, long tones.

And to take a couple days off every week and do things you enjoy that are not related to music.

And to spend a day practicing something that you think is completely impossible. Such as Cherokee in different keys at about 280.

You are probably happy with the tracks you bought, but in case you haven't found these, here are some free ones that might provide some variety to your practicing.

http://www.playalongstudio.com
 

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Yea the solo with tracks things is not going to cure your blues. I did it for 10 years. Kept the lights on but I'm starting to think at what price. Heard about a quartet playing for $50 at a nice restaurant for three hours. That's $50 for the whole band mind you. "Life is Elsewhere" Milan Kundera
 

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it happens to all of us. When it happens to me idon't practice and i don't listen to sax music....i completely take the time off and do things i normally don't have time for (reading, drawing, walking). After a few days of not even hearing sax, i'm ready to go at it again. Also, once you know the tunes don't practice with the backing as you often just find yourself playing the same licks and phrases. Practice without them and play around with the tune....the rhythms.....play freer ideas that you can't play with the backing track. All these new ideas will help when you do perform with the tracks.
 

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I find when I get exhausted that getting away like selmer does is the best medicine for rekindling interest. Let it simmer in your subconscious and focus on anything but music for a while.

For myself, burnout is when I come home from a gig in a foul mood EVERY time. It usually indicates that a group will soon have an opening, as my staying there is not doing myself any good. I seldom have burned out on playing totally, but a crappy director or player can burn me out on a group in no time. There are plenty of good gigs with good folks that there is no need to punish yourself by playing somewhere you do not enjoy being.

I also used to treat myself to periods where I wouldn't even touch an instrument of any sort. Usually these fell in May and June just after a period of performing nonstop for about 3 months. It was mandatory for my sanity and marriage.
 

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saxmaninparadise said:
Hey all,
Just wanted to discuss what I'm (musically) going through right now and hear from anyone who can empathize with me and give me some sound suggestions on how to handle what I think is "musical burn-out"

First, I have been playing saxophone for over 35 years and in all of those years I've either been in a school band or a gigging band. I've recently started to buy backing tracks with the idea of doing my own gigs when gigs with the bands I play with are slow. I have played duos and trips before, so playing the solo gig is not a far reach.

I've been shedding on the solo with backing tracks for about 5 to 7 hours a day, 6 days a week for 1 1/2months and I'd say within the last two weeks, I just have lost my motivation to do the work...I don't know what to make of it. I have about 68 songs that I am currently fine tuning. Today, practice was terrible. It's like I was just going through the motions. My solos sucked...If anyone can share their experiences with this and possible solutions, I'd be most appreciative.

My first thought was to take a few days off and come back...oops, I did that. Today was my first day back in the shed for 3 days...same result.

Regards,

saxmanfromparadise
[email protected]
Sounds like you're in a "rut" to me; I know cuz I've been there. It's great to have the focus and attention to detail that you obviously have, but I think to get to the point where you're at now, you've had to ignore many tell-tales signs all along the way. You may need to back off for a while......at the least I'd mix it up in my practicing if I were you, and try to have some fun....Daryl
 

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Backing tracks tend to make my playing stale... unless I play along with actual recordings and with my hero horn players, that's a different story. But I'd take one day a week with a rhythm section for 2 hours than 10 days a week by myself with 5 hours of backing tracks...
 

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I like to get out the recording machine and satrt to record my solo's and really delve deeply into what I'm doing and start making changes. I find its the new things that give me a buzz.So I try and make new ideas,rythmic ideas, new tonal ideas,looking for new substitutions. Then also start transcribing solo's. If your doing that everyday for hours you are really growing and not getting stale as you moove along.
Dirk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank You For Your Feedback!

Hello, I just wanted to thank each and everyone of you that took the time to post on my be-half. All of your thoughts, suggestions and advice made a lot of sense to me. I agree with most that in my situation, taking several days off, documenting my practice sessions for analysis and varying my practice regimen will help me get back on that proverbial horse.

I also sing and so for the last couple of days, I've been working on strictly vocals (even though I was dying to take my axe out...a sign that I'm getting over it)

Much "KUDOS" to the SOTW community for helping me out.

Aloha From Hawaii
Talofa From Samoa

Best Regards,
Etene
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
JL said:
I think everyone goes through occasional spells like this. But my first reaction is that it has something to do with playing with backing tracks instead of a band. I could never get much, if any, satisfaction playing with a backing track (except for practicing). I need the interaction of playing with other LIVE musicians. Don't know if this is really the issue, but it might be.
Your singing to the choir with your statement. I agree, at first the backing tracks can become rather monotnous. Hard to get that band member "damn, we're really blazin face" when no one's there but a PA system.
 

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saxmaninparadise said:
Your singing to the choir with your statement. I agree, at first the backing tracks can become rather monotnous. Hard to get that band member "damn, we're really blazin face" when no one's there but a PA system.
This is very true. On the other hand, with my tracks I can practice tunes any time of the day or night anywhere I can carry my laptop. I don't need to wait for the weekly jam session at a local watering hole.

Also, the tracks don't come to work drunk, hit on the ladies, or play wrong changes and time. Other than for that, they are okay.
 

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I find it a lot more useful, rewarding, and fun to work on tunes with just me and the metronome. It teaches me to construct the harmonies and hear the tune in my head while playing, and to pre-hear my ideas more effectively. For me the backing tracks were more a stepping stone before I was able to hear the tune going by in my head while playing. The process these days is to find good recordings of tunes and to listen to them and play off of them until I'm blue in the face, then go it my own...

I think a backing track could be useful for certain types of gigs (solo, private party, etc.), or when playing at holiday dinners for family and friends who just want to hear what you've been up to and don't have the ability to hear tunes in a solo like we can.
 

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Razzy said:
I think a backing track could be useful for certain types of gigs (solo, private party, etc.), or when playing at holiday dinners for family and friends who just want to hear what you've been up to and don't have the ability to hear tunes in a solo like we can.
Au contraire. (Did I say that right?) I use backing tracks all the time for practice but never to perform. If no rhythm section is available or there is not room for one in the budget, I don't take the gig. (Or I take it on solo piano.) I'd rather stay home.
 
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