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I had a great discussion with Tim Price last night on the importance of practicing and developing a strong work ethic as a foundation to my musical growth and development.

There's a thread doing the rounds where the idea of "How you become gifted."

For all the discussion, it still essentially boils down to just doing the hard work.

I think it's an often overlooked fact that having a great teacher, guide and mentor is an enormous benefit to any serious student not only for the information they provide but also the initiation, inculcation and inspiration.

From my own experience, information is cheap nowadays to the point of being free in some cases. I can download ii-V7 I lines and Brecker licks and Chris Potter solo transcriptions for nix at the click of a mouse button. I can order a zillion jazz theory and and "how to" books online for less than the cost of a box of Ricos.

What all the information peddlars don't give me, is these missing ingredients that guide me in making the transition from thinking about, talking about and worrying about becoming a saxophone player, into someone actively engaged in moving with sincerity purpose and calm conviction toward that goal.

What I get from a good teacher, and what I was lacking when I struggled away on my own for too long, are the following:

Initiation: I'm not talking about a secret hand-shake or any nonsense like that, but initiation in it's truest sense. A beginning, an introduction, a germination of a way of doing and being that will continue to grow and bear fruit.

A great teacher initiates the student into a way of approaching the instrument, the music, and life in general. More so than just what to practice, having a great teacher is a lesson for me in how to go about the business of being a better student of the saxophone and the music. The attitude of sincerity, open mindedess, attention to detail and nuance. The incredibly strong work ethic required. The patience and perseverence. The love of the music and the musicians that went before. The acceptance and valuing of the act and process of learning and nurturing the tree rather than wasting time searching for the fruits that will come in their own good time.
This initiation into, and being set upon the path of, what it means to pursue this art form in a manner that will bear fruit is something I can only get through having a great teacher.

Inculcation: Orderliness, method, drill, regulation.

Having a great teacher has helped me enormously in this area. Learning to play the saxophone is hard work. I want to play jazz and blues :D. Having a teacher put me straight. I have to learn to play the saxophone first. :oops:
By being set specific assignments, some of which I enjoy and some of which I'd happilly trade for a bad case of the clap, I'm forced to develop the habits, practices, attitudes and work ethic required to reach my goals. The simple fact of having to demonstrate my commitment each week by means of fronting up with my set pieces, exercises and tunes under my fingers, forces me to adopt a conscientous and focused approach to my practice. there's no lattitude for playing the stuff I already know, noodling, goofing around, etc. Each week rquires a new commitment to and acceptance of the fundamental attitudes and practice habits required of someone who wishes to learn the saxophone. These essential rituals, approaches and routines aren't something I would have discovered on my own. With luck and many wasted years, I might have gleaned a naive misunderstanding of what is required but even so, without a great teacher to push, prod, encourage and inspire me, I wouldn't have developed these attitudes, habits and approaches on my own.

Inspiration:
The most sucessful way to learn anything, is to model the practices, attitudes, thinking and behaviour of someone who is an outstanding example of that which we wish to learn.

Having a great teacher provides me with a living example of all the actualisation of all the attributes I've listed above. I can see first hand how these attitudes, routines, and daily habits are lived. I can see and hear first hand that the constant perseverence to doing all the hard things on a daily basis will bear fruit. I can hear the very basic stuff that I'm working on being played by a master, transformed by time and dilligence into incredibly moving music.
On a wider scale, I can see that the same attitudes, approaches, habits and attributes that allow a great player to negotiate complex and challenging chord changes with elegance and poise, can be carried over into the way I live my everyday life.
I learn that all of lifes little ups and downs, joys and tragedies, triumphs and defeats, are just another ever changing ever evolving chord progression. I can choose to play through lifes ups and downs with harmony or dissonace. Resolve the tension in any given situation or add to the tension.
A great teacher is an inspiration. A lesson in life and how to live it.

So here's a sincere thank you to all my teachers, past and present for the Initiation, Inculcation and Inspiration they have given me and the huge difference they have made to my music and my life.

For those reading this and struggling along alone and frustrated, I encourage you to find a great teacher reap the rwards of a good work ethic.
 
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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Let me add this, for those who do not know Andrew aka DogPants.

His dilligence is non stop, his lessons are prepaired and no excuses made. I have to say, I give him material that he HAS to reach for. And he does. For those who know him- that probally is not such a shock. He busts to understand and digest.

I have a lot of Oliver Nelson material , which a good friend who worked with O.N shared with me. I know Andrew likes the blues and seems keen on the Eddie Cleanhead approach. I hit him with " Teenies Blues" and some open stuff-blues based- but harder- he really went at it and got a grasp on it- then went and downloaded A BUNCH of this stuff to get into it more.

His work ethic is really great- not only from a student stage but- HE DOES WHAT HE'S SUPPOSED TO.


This is an asset on SKYPE for me, I like guys who face the music and try. His results are something to be excited about. Music is THE universal language, and his thirst for knowledge and his WORK ETHIC are really great.

He's made a lot of progress, and as a teacher- thats an asset to him and me.
I teach him first thing in the morning and have a great time working with him- and helping him. Interesting how someone can get such joy from knowing about Sonny Criss or some different Phil Woods stuff.

I am glad I started this Skype teaching. It helps MY work ethic as well!!

Back to the topic now, , :)
Sorry to derail.
 

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Wow, that was nice. You inspired me. I have found exactly the wonderful teacher you describe here. He knows just what to say to me to get me to the next level. I am trying to be a good student and do what he tells me. It is very hard at times. In fact the last lesson I just had is kind of overwhelming me, but like you say, if I just do it and have faith that this teacher is putting me on the path to being a succesful sax player. I will succeded. And I'm really enjoying the journey.
 

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I had a great discussion with Tim Price last night on the importance of practicing and developing a strong work ethic as a foundation to my musical growth and development.
Mini snip for focus ;

Inculcation: Orderliness, method, drill, regulation.

Having a great teacher has helped me enormously in this area. Learning to play the saxophone is hard work. I want to play jazz and blues :D. Having a teacher put me straight. I have to learn to play the saxophone first. :oops:
By being set specific assignments, some of which I enjoy and some of which I'd happilly trade for a bad case of the clap, I'm forced to develop the habits, practices, attitudes and work ethic required to reach my goals. The simple fact of having to demonstrate my commitment each week by means of fronting up with my set pieces, exercises and tunes under my fingers, forces me to adopt a conscientous and focused approach to my practice. there's no lattitude for playing the stuff I already know, noodling, goofing around, etc. Each week rquires a new commitment to and acceptance of the fundamental attitudes and practice habits required of someone who wishes to learn the saxophone. These essential rituals, approaches and routines aren't something I would have discovered on my own. With luck and many wasted years, I might have gleaned a naive misunderstanding of what is required but even so, without a great teacher to push, prod, encourage and inspire me, I wouldn't have developed these attitudes, habits and approaches on my own.


snip for focus .


Inculcation

• INCULCATION (noun)
The noun INCULCATION has 1 sense:

1. teaching or impressing upon the mind by frequent instruction or repetition

ON THE SAXOPHONE, I note with extereme interest the way people shed.
Lots know the in and out of the rules...but when it's time to adapt, apply and move forward, they draw a blank.

You know here's the point. It's the logic or the order of events. To go even further, the beginning basic pedagogical stances to get on the right track. If you get those basics started right away, you've got it for life.
It's really a connection between brain, ear and body which involves a certain kind of mental acuity and a sound that has to be there in the ear
< VIA INCULCATION> to hear. Some get it and some don't.

~ PLUS, it's a wise idea to get right away into jazz syllables,because of the time and nuance and there's no other way to teach about the feel. You already know what jazz is about. It's obivious when a student already knows chords, yet you don't sound good. There's no mouthpiece or special serial number, no book, there's no clothes to wear. How in the hell are you going to get ga-ding, ga-ding, da-dang, ga-ding, da dang, (sound of a drummers ride beat on the cymbal)?
~ IF, you try to sing it and see how it works you can IMAGINE THE SOUND.Then go to your horn!! There's no other way. There's the INCULCATION again. Time spent on basics, that apply.
~How many can just swing the head to " How High The Moon" without a drummer? Ditto- " Just Friends" in F, " " Don't Get Around Much Anymore". Simple melodys, before you try to flood the solo with straight 16th notes that fog the issue, and DO NOT SWING because the basic swing was never locked in.

The other thing, is SIGHT READING !! The lack of 1. teaching or impressing upon the mind by frequent instruction or repetition!!!

You've got to remember that reading is familiarity. It's habit. Really what you're doing is getting familiar with rhythms. Repetition, over and over again. There are two things: pitches and rhythm. < and you don't sight read THE OMNI BOOK, or a transcription book!! > Get the excellent Fred Lipsius books or even try the top lines in the UNIVERSAL BOOK. Stuff simple to give confidence. Work towards reading rhythm, the ability to recognize it and immediately spit it right back. SIMPLE. Ignoring this is beyond me, it hurts you instantly.

A teacher is a arbiter of culture,a source of vitality, strength and positiveness. I've taken more students than not and made sure these points were solid and 2ed nature. Then, watch what happens!

This is a result of.....WORK ETHIC.
Talking the talk, sadly goes only so far. All the BS stops when ya pick up your horn. Time spent and all that. You know ?


INCULCATION !!!! Don't leave home without it. lol.:)
 

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Very well-conceived post, DP, and I agree with all of your points.

I was fortunate enough to hit the jackpot with the first teacher I contacted (Robbie Jordan, a local Tim Price disciple, by the way), and all three "-ation's" that you stated above were relevant and critical for me.

I'd like to add a couple more "-ation's" that are benefits of live, onoe-on-one lessons:

Personalization: Robbie recognizes what I already know so moves quickly to material where I can grow. That is, he build the topics around me - - where I am in my development, and where I want to go.

This week it was harmonic intervals within a given scale and how to build an improvisational line within their structure, for each step in the scale. It was new and heady stuff for me. We didn't need to bother with chord structure and differences between minor and diminished, etc, etc. I had that.

Prioritization: This is related to the above, but a little different. Robbie immediately started the training this week in the key of F#. Why? Because it's a key that I struggle with, and left to my own, would probably avoid. So he made it a priority for me to work in F#, B, and C# so that I could grow in my weak areas.

When people ask me who my favorite sax player is, I say without hesitation, that it's Robbie Jordan. Maybe at 52 I'm a little old for hero worship, but having his mentorship and inspiration has really fired up my playing and motivation.

And without the encouragement/admonishments of people here on SOTW, I probably never would have sought out a teacher. I'm in your debt.
 

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I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon here. I feel like I'm maybe being grouped in with the other side of things (since I offered some Brecker Licks, Chris Potter solos, and video lessons and book for under the price of a box of Rico reeds:)) so I just wanted to state for the record that I am a huge advocate of getting one on one personal lessons. That's how I've made my living for the past 10 years by teaching students one on one so I am a big fan of supporting your local teachers. I say it in many of my video lessons and have said it to quite a few people in emails. There is nothing better than getting feedback from a teacher right there in the moment. Having the one on one relationship. My stuff is in no way meant to be a substitute for that but rather something that can help and fill in some gaps perhaps. I've had a few students that had to give up one on one lessons for a short time because of finances and travel costs and they are doing the video lessons in the short term to keep them connected and moving in a direction until they can get back on their feet. I've never studied with Tim but have recommended him to a few students I've met online as a great guy to go to for the skype lesson thing. There are others out there and in your home town probably (hopefully) support them and get the input, inspiration and kick in the pants you might need.:D
 

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I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon here. I feel like I'm maybe being grouped in with the other side of things (since I offered some Brecker Licks, Chris Potter solos, and video lessons and book for under the price of a box of Rico reeds:)) so I just wanted to state for the record that I am a huge advocate of getting one on one personal lessons. That's how I've made my living for the past 10 years by teaching students one on one so I am a big fan of supporting your local teachers. I say it in many of my video lessons and have said it to quite a few people in emails. There is nothing better than getting feedback from a teacher right there in the moment. Having the one on one relationship. My stuff is in no way meant to be a substitute for that but rather something that can help and fill in some gaps perhaps. I've had a few students that had to give up one on one lessons for a short time because of finances and travel costs and they are doing the video lessons in the short term to keep them connected and moving in a direction until they can get back on their feet. I've never studied with Tim but have recommended him to a few students I've met online as a great guy to go to for the skype lesson thing. There are others out there and in your home town probably (hopefully) support them and get the input, inspiration and kick in the pants you might need.:D
no worries, jeff. there are various situations in life that make plenty of room for lessons/materials apart form a personal teacher. my 'schedule' is so seat-of-the-pants and iffy right now that i couldn't be consistent with assignments. god,family,job,and other activities tend to leave scant room to fulfill the passion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's another thing Tim got me straight on and I hope he won't mind me sharing this little insight here.

I've mentioned in another thread that, Tim helped me sort out my equipment issues and I highly recommend Tim's equipment consult to anyone else who is still wasting time and money searching for that magic piece.

Here's another thought Tim shared with me. Maybe it'll help this discussion get back on track.

If I want to learn to play the saxophone and play this music, I have to start building. I spoke above about building an effective mind set and attitude and developing a solid committment to doing the work required as a student.

But the work has to begin!

Building the technique, musicianship, muscle memory, vocabulary, reading ability, repertoire, ears, imagination, etc. It's a big project.

If I can use a construction site as an analogy, it's like buiding a huge high rise. You gotta have the tools, the bricks, the plan and the project manager and everything has to happen in a logical and methodical way.

But at some point, the work has to begin!

Tim put it to me this way. There's a lot of building to be done, so get started now and keep it going. Don't waste time worrying about things like "what bricks would Mike Brecker have used?"

Start building!

Don't be one of those guys that has a pile of expensive and exotic bricks, a whole bunch of hammers, nails, power drills etc. And never builds the house.

At some point we all have to stop with the prevaricating and procrastinating and grab one those bricks and start building.

Food for thought. Something worth discussing.
 

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Good thread. The concepts being thrown about could be applied to any artistic endeavour, be it visual art, dance, whatever. And that's what makes it sound authentic to my ears.
 

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Thanks DP. I know from my own experience how hard it is to put into words what a great teacher does. Four months ago I started working with a great teacher, and it's long since occurred to me how strangely hard it is to put into words what is so great about him. I suppose a great teacher is both a great musician as well as great leader. A great leader leads with integrity and inspires confidence, hope, and and an effective mixture of calm and excitement. He or she provides organization, simplification, and personal insights about his/her students. I know my teacher is a real blessing, and I'm sure many of the teachers on this board are too. (So don't forget that if you are one of them!)
 

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I'm about to begin private lessons in a couple of weeks for the first time in my life. I'm 34 years old. I played sax all through school with percussionists as band directors. They never noticed that I bit really hard, played on way too hard of a reed and didn't know how to tongue.

I took 13 years off of sax after high school and picked it up again early last year. I will say that this forum has taught me more about being a better sax player than 10+ years of school did, and I'm very grateful for that. However, I've decided that in order to get to the next level I need someone who is already there to reach down and give me a hand to pull me up there.

I'm ready to start!
 

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Great post DP. Here's my input: If you have a great teacher, make sure you express your gratitude!

I studied clarinet and saxophone in my childhood with an old guy who really set up the right foundation for me musically. He was a no nonsense guy who sometimes didn't have the warmest demeanor, so in my early years with him, I wasn't crazy about him. I did come to admire and appreciate him later as we developed an ongoing teacher/student relationship.

Eventually I quit playing altogether around the time I graduated from college, but apparently the things my teacher imparted to me stuck, because nearly 20 yrs after quitting, I decided to start playing again, and it was then that I truly appreciated what this man had taught me many years prior. I had some work to get started again, but the foundation was still there - I didn't have to relearn fingerings, scales, chords, but most importantly I didn't have to relearn a sense of musicality and personal expression on my horn.

To expand on my initial advice to express your gratitude, do it before it's too late. Shortly after I picked up my horn again, I attempted to find contact information on my teacher and found that he had passed away.
 

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What a great inspiring thread. I wholeheartedly agree. As has been said before on this forum, "A good teacher is the best gear you can buy (rent)" Tim, I really like your approach, and if I wasn't so swamped with things to practice already, I would definitely figure out what the heck skype is and get at you. Cheers.
 

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Thanks for another great post, DP, and for starting such a worthwhile discussion. I can only endorse all that has been said. I had a private teacher on clarinet at school, and then a couple of years with him on alto sax. I stopped playing after university, but took up sax again when I was about 36 (8 years ago). I got my sound back pretty quickly, but it was hard to make real progress until I got a teacher to set some goals. My current teacher (for the last 18 months) has been a real inspiration. He plays s/a/t/clarinet with the RAF and, for dedication and discipline, they don't come any better. Dedication and discipline are what I most needed to develop; but a big bonus is his willingness to tailor his teaching to my personality, musical tastes, goals... and weaknesses. (He's good at spotting those!) The teacher/pupil relationship feels like a partnership to develop my playing - which I think is how it should be for adult learners.
 

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Just a little update- I had my 3rd lesson last night and so far it's going pretty well. The man is a working pro, and if I said his name here chances are you may have heard of him, so needless to say I have a ton of respect for him as a player.

Which leads me to my point. When he gives me homework to do between lessons, I do my best to get through all of it and learn it 100%... not just for my own benefit, but because I don't want to embarrass myself the following week or "let him down". I also don't want to waste time and money by having to go over the same stuff from a week prior. It's all about moving forward and challenging myself. As he said last night, "My job is to push you."
 
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