I realize that it has been a while since I last posted about my progress, but as I get further down this path, I feel like there is less to say. I am practicing every day, getting better at practicing, improving, etc. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, so I’m going to keep doing it. I feel like many of my previous posts are on a loop now. I’m motivated (Game on!), and I discover that my face is shifting, so I let it (exit off of the Habit Highway), which sounds worse at first (back to the bottom). I adapt my specific practice to accommodate what I need (clarify my needs), things get better, which means they are different (consistency is a dangerous myth), and its working (it is only a matter of time). Lather, rinse, repeat. This loop used to take months, but now it seems to take only a few days. The loops are getting shorter, which is good!
One thing I will say is I wish I knew this twenty years ago: if you want to play really really well, you need a ton of stability in your playing. The way your face works to make sound needs to be efficient, and similar all over the range (which helps to set up agility and clarity). Then you can spend time practicing fluency and really everything boils down to those categories. No matter how much you practice, if you don’t have stability, then you are wasting your time. Some young players stumble onto stability, while others like me discover this later. This is partially why some great players are really horrible at explaining to others how to do it. The truth is they may not know how it happened for them. That doesn't make them bad people, just less effective teachers to some of their students.
Whatever your situation is, if you really want to play well, it is best to go after this and train your stability to be world-class. I would also posit that there is no limit to one’s stability. If you train the correct way, you can keep getting ‘stronger’. The process of losing strength due to aging is a long one, and for our profession we can continue playing into our 70's and even 80's at a very high level if we take care of our chops. Therefore I don’t see a finish line at day 1000 for me- every day is the start of a new journey. If you haven’t checked out my thoughts on stability on my website at https://www.jasonsulliman.com/stability, I would recommend it.
After 900 days I find that information to be the key to a solid foundation of my technique. If you skip over the part where you sort this out in your playing, you can keep paying for degrees and subbing with orchestras, etc. and think you are making progress, but you’ll never get to that ‘next level’ of playing that you may want. So go get it! I’m gonna smash through this 1000-day practice journey with a fresh new motivation. Here’s to 2000 days!