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Beginner When are you no longer a beginner?

QWales

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I've been playing for 3.5yrs and still see myself as a beginner. Other than passing some high level ABRSM exams, what guage is there to say that you have made it past this level?
 

Fraser Jarvis

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When you can play Giant Steps at the same pace and with the same ferocity as Coltrane! No seriously I don't think you should or really need to get hung up with stuff like that, If your passing exams and enjoy your playing why worry?
 

dooce

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When you are still making a horrible noise but you start to understand why........and know that you can do something about it.
 

MandyH

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When you are no longer freaked out by the prospect of playing a new piece at sight, and expect to get maybe 50-75% of it right first time?

TBH I have no idea. Like you, for a long, long time I still saw myself as a beginner, but over the past 12 months (I have now been learning sax for 4 years and 4 months), looking back, I have moved off the first rung of the ladder. Maybe it's just a self-confidence thing?
 

dubrosa22

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Coming up to my 3rd year I think what Mandy says is definitely true about playing new pieces and confidence.

Part of the confidence that comes with real physical and mental familiarity with the horn is knowing that even if you hit a wrong note you can make it 'musical', move on and get away with it.

I guess a sax legend can play mostly 'wrong' notes and make it sound incredibly beautiful :D
 

QWales

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S. Wales, UK
When you are no longer freaked out by the prospect of playing a new piece at sight, and expect to get maybe 50-75% of it right first time?

TBH I have no idea. Like you, for a long, long time I still saw myself as a beginner, but over the past 12 months (I have now been learning sax for 4 years and 4 months), looking back, I have moved off the first rung of the ladder. Maybe it's just a self-confidence thing?

The only thing that freaks me out about a new piece these days is if it's too quick for me or it's full of flats other than b.
 

QWales

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S. Wales, UK
When you can play Giant Steps at the same pace and with the same ferocity as Coltrane! No seriously I don't think you should or really need to get hung up with stuff like that, If your passing exams and enjoy your playing why worry?

It's not a biggie, it would just be nice to know when one has passed that milestone. I think I'm close, just not got the cigar yet.
 

BigMartin

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When you are still making a horrible noise but you start to understand why........and know that you can do something about it.
I agree completely. The key to progress (in just about any activity) is realising that it's within your power to get better. Don't waste time wondering whether you have "talent" (whatever that means) or whether you're any good yet: decide where you need to improve next and just do it. Repeat ad infinitum.
 

QWales

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S. Wales, UK
I agree completely. The key to progress (in just about any activity) is realising that it's within your power to get better. Don't waste time wondering whether you have "talent" (whatever that means) or whether you're any good yet: decide where you need to improve next and just do it. Repeat ad infinitum.

No time being wasted here, I'm in work so can't be practicing :thumb:
 

BigMartin

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No time being wasted here, I'm in work so can't be practicing :thumb:
Didn't mean to suggest you actually were wasting time. Sorry if it came over that way. Probably should have said "wasting energy". What I meant was, I think a lot of us (including my old self all the time and I'm still guiilty of it sometimes) get too hung up on where we are now ("am I any good at this?, "will I ever be any good?", etc) instead of taking control and doing what it takes to get better. It sounds obvious, but it's taken me most of my life to learn to think this way.
 

QWales

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The only thing that freaks me out about a new piece these days is if it's too quick for me or it's full of flats other than b.

I guess, that is the answer to my question and your response Mandy. If I practice to the point where I know my flats and can play a quick enough to play most standard pieces, I'll be well on my way. Yes I know there is sooo much more like timing, light and shade, ear training etc etc

Actually I think I have a reasonable idea what I need to do but was interested in what you guys would have to say on the matter. e.g. From my little experience I get the impression that to be a good improvisor you need to have a bunch of set moves you can reference (a bit like contract bridge) and I don't have any of them yet. And it really helps to be able to decipher the cords and adjust to the changes, which involves knowing your scales.

Anyway, I could write a book on what I know I don't know, so I think I'll call it a day there. Thanks for the pointers chasps.
 

jbtsax

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I have played over 50 years now and still remember when I struggled with flats in the key signatures. The key (pun intended) is to master each key signature before moving on to the next. Get comfortable with 1 flat before moving on to 2, and so forth. That way you only have to concentrate on them one at a time. The only reason alto players are more comfortable playing in sharp keys is that they spend more time playing in those keys.
 

TheCureFan

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westcountry England
think i'm doing ok so far key wise. These are the ones i'm comfortable with inc arpeggios

F major - D minor
C major - A minor
G major - E minor
D major - B minor
A major

as Ive started work towards grades of stopped going round the circle of 5ths and working on whats required grade wise (inc jazz scales)
 

MandyH

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not a lot....it's quite rare to find sax pieces in many flats, especially if you are playing in a mixed band.

before my grade 7 exam, my teacher suggested I got to grips with the scales of Bb - starting on 2 flats and progressing to 5 flats (major, mixolydian, dorian and aeolian). It was a real struggle to "think" of Db or Gb.

when I came to take the exam I was presented with a piece in 3 sharps! ho hum!

still, it was good for my education.
 

MandyH

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I get the impression that to be a good improvisor you need to have a bunch of set moves you can reference (a bit like contract bridge) and I don't have any of them yet.

from the course some of us are doing at the moment, that is absolutely not the right approach! Gary Burton likened it to learning French - you might be able to repeat all the phrases in the French phrase book, but you couldn't actually hold a conversation.
He says you should become conversant with the chord scales so you can instantly recognise a chord name and know what notes to throw in.
me - I think I am stuck on the "bonjour" page :))) :)))
 

TomMapfumo

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Skabertawe, South Wales
I've been playing for 3.5yrs and still see myself as a beginner. Other than passing some high level ABRSM exams, what guage is there to say that you have made it past this level?

The ABRSM grades are structured such that Beginner is up to Grade 3, Intermediate to Grade 5 and Advanced to Grade 8. Your assumption is therefore innaccurate. If you can complete a Grade 3 exam or successfully play the various aspects of the exam informally then I would say that you are no longer a beginner. On Sax I passed Grade 3 in two years. Whatever others assumptions are then at least those who run a Grade system (also Trinity/Guildhall and London College of Music) do maintain that Grade 3 is the level you need to achieve to be no longer considered a beginner.

I think for yourself it depends on what you have spent your time doing over the past 3.5 yrs - some people may practice for an hour each day, some for 10 mins, etc. I'd suggest just finding out what is required for a Grade 3 exam - pieces of music, scales etc - and then use your own/someone else's judgement as to whether you are are that standard - no point in being too subjective on these things.
-
 

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