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Lost my mojo

bluetone

New Member
Messages
19
Locality
South Wales
Help me please. I've been having lessons and enjoying playing for nearly 3 years. I've passed Jazz grades 1 to 3, but after my last grade exam I came away feeling deflated and wondering why I was putting myself through it when I started learning as a hobby. That was February and I still can't shake the blues (no pun intended). I'm thinking I should have a break from lessons but then I might lose my way and not practice enough, and also not really know what to practice during the break.

Does anyone think a break will help? I have lessons once a week and at the moment I don't feel like going. If I have a break from lessons what should I work on? I'd like to join a big band as a beginner, but the only one in the area practices on a night when I have to take my son to football (and there really is no-one else to do this).

Does everyone go through this or should I just take a break and see how I feel in a few months?

Any suggestions would be useful - I'm not normally this indecisive.:(
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,522
Locality
West Midlands
Help me please. I've been having lessons and enjoying playing for nearly 3 years. I've passed Jazz grades 1 to 3, but after my last grade exam I came away feeling deflated and wondering why I was putting myself through it when I started learning as a hobby. That was February and I still can't shake the blues (no pun intended). I'm thinking I should have a break from lessons but then I might lose my way and not practice enough, and also not really know what to practice during the break.


Does anyone think a break will help? I have lessons once a week and at the moment I don't feel like going. If I have a break from lessons what should I work on? I'd like to join a big band as a beginner, but the only one in the area practices on a night when I have to take my son to football (and there really is no-one else to do this).

Does everyone go through this or should I just take a break and see how I feel in a few months?

Any suggestions would be useful - I'm not normally this indecisive.:(


Yes we nearly all go through some degree of this at one time or another,and sometimes a break can help and there are times when taking break can mean that some players never return to their instrument.

Importantly don't be too hard on yourself,grade exams are not always for everyone and maybe you need to bring some fun into your playing for a while and this might be something you could discuss with your teacher.
 

bluetone

New Member
Messages
19
Locality
South Wales
Thanks Brian. I wouldn't like to think I won't come back and I want to keep up the practice so I don't lose my mouth muscles, embouchure etc. It's not helping that I'm going through the gurgling stage - it's making the sound awful. I feel like I've worked hard to improve and then I get the gurgling thrown at me.

Any suggestions for having fun with playing would be gratefully received - and please tell me the gurgling resolves itself.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,014
Locality
Worcestershire
Yes we nearly all go through some degree of this at one time or another,and sometimes a break can help and there are times when taking break can mean that some players never return to their instrument.

Importantly don't be too hard on yourself,grade exams are not always for everyone and maybe you need to bring some fun into your playing for a while and this might be something you could discuss with your teacher.

Hey, I'm a relative newbie but have already suffered those feelings if thankfully only for a day or two at a time so far. I agree with Brian about putting some fun into your playing. My teacher tells me to do scales but only to spend 5 to ten mins max per day on them. Probably similar on long tones etc., but also working on some pieces you enjoy, and maybe cutting free and improvising over backing tracks which personally I love.

Personally I'd recommend getting into recording yourself even if only for your own benefit and listening. But when you are ready I'd go further and waste no time having a go at the ballad of the month here in the "Your sound clips" section (you can always have a go at some of the previous ballads of the month. April's and May's were quite difficult but fun to try and earlier months have some more straightforward ones.) I'd also recommend the "Beginners' Recording Thread" in the "Beginners' Questions" section here on the forum as a good place to try out your early recordings. This will give you a goal to aim for, something to strive for and to measure your progress against. You can keep a record of your recordings and listen back to them in the future to see what's changed. Become part of the community here and re-invigorate your sax playing! :w00t:
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,014
Locality
Worcestershire
Thanks Brian. I wouldn't like to think I won't come back and I want to keep up the practice so I don't lose my mouth muscles, embouchure etc. It's not helping that I'm going through the gurgling stage - it's making the sound awful. I feel like I've worked hard to improve and then I get the gurgling thrown at me.

Any suggestions for having fun with playing would be gratefully received - and please tell me the gurgling resolves itself.

"Gurgling" can mean, and be caused by a number of things which many more experienced memembers here will be able to give more detail on.

Is it a gurgling like bubbling through water? Or is it kind of waves of resistance when you try to play bottom D and lower notes (often called "motor boating")? Or something else?

If its motor boating I've found a number of things which can contribute to this and/or solving it in addition to other advice members may well give you here.

Firstly try pushing your mouthpiece quite a bit further on to the cork (even if it puts you out of tune while you test). Does this fix the problem? If so its almost certainly motor boating. If so, then making sure your mouthpiece is far enough on (whilst still in tune) may be the solution. Also, making sure your neckstrap is pulling your mouthpiece up to the right level can affect this. Getting the angle in your mouth right can make a big difference in my experience. Another solution (that I've never tried) that's often suggested is putting a wine bottle's cork (or something similar) down the bell of your sax.

If none of the above improve matters it may not be motor boating in which case it could be mouthpiece related or possibly a leak somewhere but other people here will much better advise on those possibilities. You'll find threads on this kind of problem in the techy questions section.

PS if its water gurgling empty your horn down the sink! ;}
 
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jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,522
Locality
West Midlands
Thanks Brian. I wouldn't like to think I won't come back and I want to keep up the practice so I don't lose my mouth muscles, embouchure etc. It's not helping that I'm going through the gurgling stage - it's making the sound awful. I feel like I've worked hard to improve and then I get the gurgling thrown at me.

Any suggestions for having fun with playing would be gratefully received - and please tell me the gurgling resolves itself.

Yes it will resolve with time and practise,playing long notes is important for improving your tone.
Suggestions for fun would be playing the sort of music you want to play,maybe some playalong tunes,what music influences have you got?
 

bluetone

New Member
Messages
19
Locality
South Wales
My gurgling is spit in the mouthpiece and I'm learning to suck it back - yum.

I'm in work and have to go home now (to take my son to Football!!!). Thanks for all the advice and I'll check in tomorrow to respond properly. Thanks everyone.
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,014
Locality
Worcestershire
My gurgling is spit in the mouthpiece and I'm learning to suck it back - yum.

I'm in work and have to go home now (to take my son to Football!!!). Thanks for all the advice and I'll check in tomorrow to respond properly. Thanks everyone.

Oh well in that case!......

I get that, or rather I get it much less these days. I got it really bad on sop though until JBTsax posted a brilliant suggestion which was to basically rub the reed on a piece of quality paper until it shines. The shiny surface stops the water sticking to the reed between the reed and the mouthpiece's rails (it just runs off instead). It really works!
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
My gurgling is spit in the mouthpiece and I'm learning to suck it back - yum.

I'm in work and have to go home now (to take my son to Football!!!). Thanks for all the advice and I'll check in tomorrow to respond properly. Thanks everyone.
Hi, the gurgling is due to your mouth muscles starting to work (embouchre) just keep blowing thru it and think of it as an athlete who needs to build certain muscle groups.
If you need any personal advice private message me, I was teaching begginners and pro sax players.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,917
Any suggestions for having fun with playing would be gratefully received - and please tell me the gurgling resolves itself.
Yeah, get yourself in a band of some description makes loads of difference, makes everything seem worthwhile just to get out there and play, if you don't feel ready for this try and find a couple of other musos of a similar ability to yourself, doesn't matter what they play, just get together and play something. Regarding the gurgling, either: A spray some wax furniture polish inside your mouthpiece or B blow a bit harder and you will find it will go away (seriously!) .
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
I tell you 100% the gurgling is due to weaker embouchre muscles which are in development and the mouth naturally over produces saliva.
My advice is NOT to put any product like a spray etc in your mouthpiece, just keep blowing thru it and your muscles WILL strengthen up.
I will put this against anyone who says otherwise.
 
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Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,917
I tell you 100% the gurgling is due to weaker embouchure muscles which are in development and the mouth naturally over produces saliva.
My advice is NOT to put any product like a spray etc in your mouthpiece, just keep blowing thru it and your muscles WILL strengthen up.
I will put this against anyone who says otherwise.
Ian, I was struggling one time with the spitty gurgling sound, almost drove me mad (mad Fraser? kinda has a ring to it, or am I thinking of someone else?) anyway I tried pledge and car wax, both worked with instant results, but I know were you are coming from, like "fix the cracks, don't just paper over them".
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
Ian, I was struggling one time with the spitty gurgling sound, almost drove me mad (mad Fraser? kinda has a ring to it,
or am I thinking of someone else?) anyway I tried pledge and car wax, both worked with instant results, but I know were you are coming from, like "fix the cracks, don't just paper over them".

Yup 100% I can say never paper the cracks, tried it and failed and decided to fix things, works 100%
The rewards in my playing reflects it I think
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,054
Locality
Cheshire UK
Hi

Sorry to hear you have lost your way a little. Sounds to me like the exam had something to do with it when you state "putting yourself through it" You don't have to do the exams. I have been playing for 2 years now and every now and again think about exams but just can't face the pressure of them. I might do one day when I feel more confident and my playing improves but I am just enjoying the whole lerning experience. The best thing I did was join an orchestra, granted it has to be with the right people and suit you but it is more fun than playing on your own. Are there any others around you could join?

Do you get on with your tutor ok? I look forward to my lessons though recently for a variety of reasons have changed them to fortnightly, could you do this, to give you more time for fun in between.

You've had a lot of good advice above, hope this helps a little:) and that you can get back in to it.

Jx
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
Messages
1,020
Locality
Sunny Aberdeenshire
Don't feel guilty for feeling like taking a break - whether its for a few days/weeks/whatever. I can't think of anything more demoralising than practising because you have to, rather than because you want to - echoes of music lessons at primary school, when so many kids give up!

Have you considered reducing the frequency of your lessons so there is less pressure? I usually have a lesson every 3-4 weeks, but currently upped to a weekly lesson (to help achieve a personal goal) - I don't think I could cope with a lesson every week on a long term basis - too intense!

Reiterating what others have said, chose some music you want to play and have a go.

Most of all, enjoy what you chose to do - whether playing, resting, diverting your attention to something new. Life is for living - not regretting!
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,685
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I agree lessons aren't for everyone. I had a lesson or two 30 odd years ago. I got told off for not playing what was written. Still not playing what's written.

Find something you want to play and work on that. My first "proper tune" was misty and I still surprise myself by finding new ways through it. A piece you know well will let you express yourself and open doors on interpreting new pieces.

Sometimes I play better after a break. You come back with renewed vigour and a fresh point of view.

Some of your embouchure is building the muscles but a lot of it is educating them. They don't forget. They complain and give you face ache after a long lay off but it doesn't take long to get back in trim. It's not like starting again, more like getting back to where you left off.

Have a browse on amazon and pick up a few cheap cd's ancient and modern. I get a lot of inspiration from players long gone. You'll probably find you listen differently as your playing progresses and it's surprising how something that passed you by or went over your head, can suddenly become accessible and bring with it a whole new understanding and pleasure.

There's a series of fake books that are fun. You can go pop or classical or 60's or 40's. All transposed into easy keys to get you going. You may have to change key to play it with the band later on. One new song can lead you down a path of discovery. It might be a cul de sac and then you pick another.

We do this for pleasure. Some take it seriously but it's serious fun. It's not a race. There is no destination. Look out of the window and enjoy the journey.
 

wol916

New Member
Messages
125
I was advised to treat the sax like an old friend and place it on a stand somewhere in the house where I would walk past from time to time. Then rather than having a fixed practice time just pick it up in passing play for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours whatever you feel like then carry on with your day. Just like saying hello to a friend and stopping for a chat.
 

Marcello

Senior Member
Messages
228
Locality
Anderson, South Carolina
I would say, don't stop blowing...!
I stopped for about 5 years and I regret of this...
Try not to focus too much on the theoretical side of the music but on playing (learning) tunes you like.
Just try to play them, without the compromise of improvisation or any other target you may have.
That works for me... I am fairly motivated to study music (I must mention that I do it by myself) but sometimes I get bored and lazy to pick the horn and keep on playing scales, arpeggios and so on...
So on these days, I pick the horn to play without compromise... just running on the keys, some chromatic up and down, I play the songs I like and thats is it.
The need of study and master certain things will come after sometime... you will listen someone playing and will think... "I want to do something like that..."

If you keep on blowing, even without push yourself, you will be developing your fingering, your embouchure and the most important, your passion for playing...!!

If you started playing as a hobby, never forget that.... a hobby is supposed to be something pleasant not an obligation!
Don't give it up...!

Cheers
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,871
Locality
Costa Blanca Spain
Hiya. Came on site to check yardsale, then saw your post. Been in the blue shadow for a few months now. Its horrible and dont know what caused it. Probably perceived lack of progress. Never dared to stop playing. I'm ok for a day now and then saying stuff that, but I feel dreadfull if I dont practice. So I try to take it for what I think it is, mental overload, and assume it will go away one day. Maybe posting on here means it is going away. Band I played with a few times a year or so ago have asked me back, practice today, so take heart, everything changes in time. In practice I changed what I was doing to get along. Stopped reading altogether and got stuck into chords and scales and improv in lots of keys, but each to their own. Be a shame for you to pack up, and I am very sure that if you are on the look out, another band opportunity will come along soon. I also have a plus, going to school for a few days at the end of the month, Benway I think its called. There, feeling better already. Hope you do too.
Best wishes
Mike
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
"There's a series of fake books that are fun. You can go pop or classical or 60's or 40's. All transposed into easy keys to get you going"

What are these books called? Where can I get them?
 

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