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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A while ago I was talking with a great british saxophonist about what it takes to be a pro player. He told me that in order to master the technical apsects of saxophone playing you have to put in 10000 hours practice. What reminded me is I heard the exact same thing said on the radio the other day referring to both visual art and music.

Thats going to take just over 5 years if you do 40 hours a week, or 40 years if you do 5 hours a week. On this basis I calculated I am 42% of the way there.

What do you think about this and where are you now on that scale?
 

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That might be quite true, and I even think that if you take 5 hours a week, it might very well be you don't really get to the mastery due to the slow learning curve.

If I calculate, I'm at apx. at 27% Listening to myself, I would say I'm hardly at 10%. So much to learn.

But that's OK. If I'm now at 10%, that means I still have more than 32 years to go, which means I can keep on enjoying the road to mastery for the rest of my life.

What do I love statistics :D
 

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Using that calculation puts me at about 25%, but I don't actually think I'm that good. I do agree the more you put in, the more you get out.
The more time spent practicing or even just playing, the better you will be...
I just think he's basically saying you have to work diligently at anything in order to master it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Its the idea that theres a quantifiable number of 10000 that I have heard from 2 different sources that really intrigued me.

BTW I do not think I play at 42% of some of the pros I hear, maybe I got the decimal point in the wrong place and its 4.2% ;)
 

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davecoldron said:
He told me that in order to master the technical apsects of saxophone playing you have to put in 10000 hours practice.
I'd say that's in the ballpark. Actually, it wouldn't be enough, unless it is matched by a couple thousand hours on the bandstand!

edit: I just noticed he was speaking of the "technical" aspects. The bandstand will provide the musical aspect.
 

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Problem is, some folks could practice for 100,000 hours and they're still never going to be any good. Likewise, there are those who may not practice much at all, and are still very skilled. It's a very individual thing; though if you have the aptitude and put in the time as well, you're going to be great.
 

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Woohoo! Looks like I'm 83% there! I gotta say, I agree with Grumps here. 10k just sounds like an arbitrary big number. I'm sure everyone's noticed that an hour of practice counts much more once you figure out HOW to practice! As far as mastery goes... I think I'm probably better than 95% of players technically, or at least people who have a sax. It's just that the last 5% is so ridiculously stratified in terms of ability as to render these types of measurements pointless.
 

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I'm now 49...I have been playing Sax since I was 15, Clarinet sice 10 and I don't think I am even close. I have to say that I played second Alto and Tenor in a working weekend big band from 1976 - 2002 and that experience is what has made me 'whatever' I am.
 

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DanPerezSax said:
I think I'm probably better than 95% of players technically, or at least people who have a sax. It's just that the last 5% is so ridiculously stratified in terms of ability as to render these types of measurements pointless.

I know how you feel. Here at IU I see and hear all these great players and it makes me think that I suck, until I remember that there are legions of beginers out there.
 

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Many variables that would affect that number.

Aptitude, as Grumps points out
How well/effectively/appropriately you practice, as DanPerezSax observes
Performance chops, as JL says

Then there's the age you start learning and start practicing with motivation. Young minds absorb new knowledge and skills like sponges. Late bloomers need more time for new things to find their way through the mental morass and become part of us.

I think the number is artificial.

Maybe it represents the minimum number of hours an average player must put in. Whatever.

But, if you are destined to be a master, you are not, by definition, an average player.

How many hours of diligence does it take the average player to realize he or she will never make it?
 

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I feel I'm well on my way mastering the sax. I only practice about an hour or two a day, but I feel that I have an aptitude for sax and have become highly skilled at the art of practicing the instrument. How fast you will improve is highly dependent on how you practice. I'm hoping to teach my method of practicing to young musicians who are learning how to play, because it is a basis for being good at learning anything, really. Also, I think equipment plays a role. Every since I got the ref 54, my rate of improvement has noticeably increased. The reason is because the horn is easier to play and I hear more complexity in the sound, so I hear subtones, etc that I couldn't hear before. The last piece left for me to master is altissimo, and that's purely for the musical effects of putting the audience on edge and creating different emotions in the music.
 

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Rather than 'master' I'd say 'reach your potential'.

I think that's not a bad yardstick. After 1000 hours you would probably have pretty much realized your potential whether you're any good or not, since your progress tends to slow down after a while.
 

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Al Stevens said:
How many hours of diligence does it take the average player to realize he or she will never make it?
Not many, but I still play anyway! :(
 

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I think starting younger cuts down on the number of hours. Why? There are certain aspects that become second nature that you no longer have to worry about practicing like breathing, tonguing, and a lot of other nuances. This leaves the player free to only worry about what to play and not how to play. Some players have to constantly revisit the basics.
 

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Ken said:
Rather than 'master' I'd say 'reach your potential'.

I think that's not a bad yardstick. After 1000 hours you would probably have pretty much realized your potential whether you're any good or not, since your progress tends to slow down after a while.
Correct. Reach my potential, which I haven't done yet. I want to master (i mean, reach my potential :) ) altissimo next. That's really my next big goal. A discussion on using the side keys (side c, ab, etc) really accelerated my rate of improvement also, right here on SOTW. Thanks SOTW!
 

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Grumps said:
Problem is, some folks could practice for 100,000 hours and they're still never going to be any good. Likewise, there are those who may not practice much at all, and are still very skilled.
Absolutely. And also, what do you want to sound like and what are your musical goals. Chet Baker never practiced. In some sense, he hardly even worked at it and yet here's a man with an unmistaken sound and style. In a sense he achieved with little work what many others with a lifetime of work never achieve.
 

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When my kids used to play video games, it became apparent to all of us that the more you practice, the better you got. Some video games had an end, you solved the puzzle or got maximum points. You won. Other games you could just continue to play and get higher and higher scores with no upper limit. That's what being a musician is like: most of us just get better and better. In that sense, mastery is motion with no end in sight. So we just keep on playing.
 
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