Most recently, I completed a tour in Australia with, Bill Watrous, Ingrid James and San Gabriel Seven. Thirty days filled with concerts and clinic's, along side incredibly talented musicians, was amazing. Working with some of the finest local Australian musicians and meeting Aussie's who were the friendliest mates I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Aside form our next door neighbor who grew tired of my practicing long tones and harmonics. I found it rather amusing that I finally practiced with a tuner and metronome, strictly for lengthy stretches of time and it put the neighbor over the top, to the point of yelling profanity out the window and threatening to call the police.
By design, as a music artist and musician, I have painted myself into a corner as a soloist. It was unappealing to me, growing up, to follow the good advice of instructors who advised I learn all the doubles and transcribe and learn solos of the masters. I felt strongly I wanted to discover the saxophone on my own, and follow my own path. To this day I think of myself as a bit of a rebel in music and in life. While it has taken me longer to reach the level I am at as an artist, I feel I can really claim my own space in the enormous spectrum of professional saxophone players. I realized recently that if a student practices their saxophone with perfection in mind, chances are they are not exploring and experimenting to see just what kind of noise they can make with one. Not to say you don't want to have great technique, it simply is just not human, we are imperfect and if the music becomes to accurate, it loses the life, feel and emotion. The Aussie neighbor supports my theory, as while paying strict attention to time and pitch during those hours, the musicality of my practicing was absent I'm referring to the slight distraction of playing riffs, melodies, or just playing scales with jazz phrasing and articulation.
The first thing I would say to a young saxophone student is "Don't do as I do, do as I say". Where have we all heard that before? I would strongly recommend listening to your teachers and putting in the time early in life, listening and studying to the classic masters and as many modern players as you can. If you can progress faster as a result, you'll have much more time to enjoy playing music. Most of all, it is much harder to catch up later in life when age and life makes it more challenging to put in the hours needed to become great.