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If you could tell your younger musician self something, what would it be?

randulo

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There aren't so many things I regret, but the one music-related thing I would tell my younger self is "Learn to sing!". Most musicians can sing to some extent. Early on, I was in a band that did a lot of pop tunes that require at least two and three parts. The guys told me I should sing but I said I wanted to concentrate on playing. We were playing six nights a week in a club, a perfect opportunity to practice and get better. I now find that to have been a big mistake! A few years later, I got an important tour and I didn't know that my friend who got me on it had told the leader I could sing! That was proven to be "fake news" in the studio, after a valiant effort at harmony part. Had I done more during those club days, I could have certainly done the harmony parts, as they didn't require a great voice, just a decent sense of pitch and time.
 

Pete Effamy

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I had to do quite a few vocals on the tour I did in 2014. I found that if I practised a part I could sing it well in tune and had that "inner ear" even when I couldn't hear myself well. I don't have a good tone though, not even an "interesting" tone like Donald Fagen who I suppose has a bad voice, but is a great singer. Mostly I sang the lowest part. If I'm asked to improvise a harmony part I'm next to useless.

Hence, on that tour I became the modern horn player who does a bit of many other thing too - soprano, alto, tenor, clarinet, keys, BVox, percussion. Took ages to set up.

My main beef with my conservatoire education is that no-one ever talked properly about marketing yourself (I'm the opposite of a hustler). A lot easier these days with free web pages and free publishing for your songs. Everything is cheaper, but there are far more people out there as a consequence. Schools should teach you about banking and finance too, but maybe they do these days.

Maybe I should have learned flute too, but I have never lost a gig I wanted because of it - West End musicals are my idea of purgatory.

I also should have got out a lot more. I wanted to get myself to a fairly polished standard before inflicting myself upon an audience in whatever I did, but in three short years - make that two, as it usually takes the first year to sort out any "basic" problems in your playing - that leaves in reality only the final year to play as much as possible.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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Just gigging a lot doesn’t necessary improve your playing, and –in extreme cases- might be counterproductive. I spent a good few years being great at 12 bar blues but had lost the ability to follow anything else..
 

randulo

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Just gigging a lot doesn’t necessary improve your playing, and –in extreme cases- might be counterproductive. I spent a good few years being great at 12 bar blues but had lost the ability to follow anything else..
Usually it does. The better jazz players I know cut their teeth in Vegas shows, especially good sight readers.
 

Hipparion

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"Aren't you missing playing ?
...
So ? Stop making excuses : the sax is there, get it out and just play..."

(and eventually a hiatus of 14 years would reduce to a couple)
 

Halfers

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i) When you're 8 and you're asked which instrument you want to learn to play for music lessons, say 'Saxophone' not Trumpet, because you think you've got more chance of getting a trumpet.
ii) Don't sell that Alto at age 18 because you couldn't find a local Teacher and you couldn't work out how to play along with your mates who played concert instruments and the internet didn't exist to explain how
iii) Might as well say yes to that invitation to meet a mysterious man down at the crossroads. What's to lose?
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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Usually it does. The better jazz players I know cut their teeth in Vegas shows, especially good sight readers.
Point taken- though, in my case, playing about 6 hours busking old blues and rockabilly numbers followed by an evening gig doing the same meant- well, I could play swampy blues and rockabilly really well but massively at the expense of everything else
 

randulo

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Point taken- though, in my case, playing about 6 hours busking old blues and rockabilly numbers followed by an evening gig doing the same meant- well, I could play swampy blues and rockabilly really well but massively at the expense of everything else
Yeah, there are gigs and then there are gigs, right? If you're playing in a group that requires accuracy and sight reading, you're going to get good at that or not stay in the group. Other skills are developed by other challenges and the repetition of that "catalogue". In more recent times those salaried gigs hardly exist if they do at all. Theater pit orchestra, maybe? But in the past year it's all probably dissolved. When things come back, it's hard to say what the demand will be. DJ's mostly? Down and dirty blues? Rap or hip-hop? String quartet?
 

randulo

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your mates who played concert instruments and the internet didn't exist to explain how
Very good point, there! Today, you can do anything by learning the basics to start on the Internet: sax, guitar, piano, plumbing, carpentry, scuba diving, cooking...
 

GCinCT

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I would tell my 11 year old self, about to start junior high school, “ Don’t quit playing. It will be so much more satisfying than those shop classes.”
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I would tell my 11-year-old self to join the school brass band and learn to play trombone.

I spent some time failing dismally to play the piano, and as a result decided that leaning an instrument was not something I could do. But the art teacher at school was an ex-professional jazz trombone player who ran an excellent band.
 

Caz

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Get a practice room, practice an hour or two a day, do transcriptions, do chord loops, learn tunes by ear/heart and learn to play piano and/or drums.
 

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