I agree, playing with others will elevate your playing. I got things a little backwards. Took lessons for a year. Played at home for a few years, mostly off sheet music. Then joined a swing band as second tenor. It was like jumping into the deep end of the pool, but I learned a lot from the experience and from the other musicians. One handicap was that my fundamentals weren't all that good. I've left the band for now and am working mostly on fundamentals and sound development. I've worked my way through a couple of the courses on bettersax.com and find them to be very helpful.