You Can Do It!

Here’s a bit of encouragement for those of you who are practicing like crazy but feel a bit discouraged. Every musician I know goes through times like this. I’ve had a few times in my life where I was extremely depressed and bummed out about my playing. The best advice I can give is to look for those things that motivate and inspire you. Focus on those things. Try not to listen to the negative thoughts in your head that can ramble on and on if you let them.

When I was younger I used to listen to all those negative thoughts and let them guilt me into practicing more. It was a great way to get me practicing but it was a very unhealthy way to motivate myself. No matter how much I would practice or how good I would get I would always have those negative thoughts pulling me down.

Now, I try to stop those negative thoughts as soon as they start. I still have them pop up but I don’t listen to them. Thoughts like “This video stinks, I look like an idiot, I made a mistake, I stink”……………Yes, I still have those thoughts even after 30 years of playing the sax. I just ignore them and focus elsewhere. Be aware of your weaknesses and work on them but don’t dwell on them while forgetting all your strengths. I hope this video brings a little bit of joy and encouragement to your day. Steve

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 25 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. That was great Steve. I purposefully stop playing for a couple of days when I feel like that. During those bad days it seems like we are not learning anything, it is not sinking in, but it is. So, I wait a couple of days and the eagerness comes back along with the joy, and guess what…those things I practiced were there working inside. Those couple of days are great for me to work on the guilt part too. For me it is much better the natural and “happy” approach than the forced one. I will get there. Thanks a lot.

  2. Avatar Bill Cancel says

    After 30 years of playing – I go through these phases, and I have been feeling a little bored myself with my playing and need to spice things up a bit. So on a whim I picked up Steve’s Mastering the Dominant Bebop Scales for a fresh take on someone else’s approaches to music . Its a whopper of a book (and a great deal!) But I am hoping to get myself re-enthused and and get some new ideas from Steve.

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