Life after college: How many hours can I practice now??!!

In the summer of 2002 I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Timothy McAllister at Interlochen Center for the Arts.  It was a wonderful experience working with the Jazz Band and studying saxophone all summer.

One day in a lesson Tim asked me “how many hours to do you practice”?   I answered about 4 to 5 hours a day.  He told me you should be practicing at least 6 to 8 hours a day.  Tim also told me that he would practice two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening.  Furthermore, I was told to practice as much as I can now while i’m in school because once i’m out in the real world life won’t allow me to practice six hours a day.

Several years down the road to today I have to say he was right.  I spent many hours practicing in graduate school and during the summers to make my skills as advanced as possible and I draw upon that hard work today.  Granted I get a few hours everyday to practice and have time on the weekends and summers to practice more, but my skills that I use today I learned back then.  It doesn’t go to show I haven’t learned anything since college, because I have.  My sound is better, I circular breathe, double tongue, articulate better than I ever have, but I don’t practice 6 hours a day.  It was fine in school, but as you enter the real world, get married, have kids, and work, it becomes challenging to find time to practice.

I love my life and enjoy everything I do and make time to practice everyday, but it takes discipline to make it work.  I have a strict practice routine to keep all my skills in check.  So my advice to you is if you’re in school practice hard while you can, if you’re already in the real world and need more skill, be consistent and persistent and your work will pay off.

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