I wish I had $100 dollars for every time I've had the conversation: I'm playing out somewhere - at a gig at a jazz club, or playing in some Christmas production or a cantata at a church somewhere, where someone will come up to me after the event and reminisce about how they wished they learned to play an instrument when they were a kid; or that they used to play saxophone in high school, but that was so many years ago, and they feel that now they are too old to learn to play.
In the "members section" of the site, I link to a video where I describe something called "muscle memory," and how, for good or for bad, when you practice a physical motion with your body, the body tends to "remember" how to do that motion. When you practice your sax, your body "remembers" it in ways you might not think.
This might or might not seem obvious at first. But for those of us who can walk and ride a bicycle, it is a pretty quick realization when we think about it that we don't think much about these things when we do them.
As a matter of fact, if you hop on a bicycle after having not been on one for years, you realize how quickly you can get on it and not have to rethink how to keep that sucker upright. It just stays up. But what does that mean for your saxophone practicing?
There is a bit of a step between bad and good. Learning the basics of something makes you better. The difference between good and great is perhaps a little harder to reach. It takes work. What you might not realize, though, is that there is a real "thing" about how people who are good at playing saxophone become great at playing saxophone. A lot of it comes down to this: