Hello. I'm 17, play tenor sax, junior in high school. Let me inform you my story so far so you guys can understand why I'm writing this post. I started playing sax in middle school as a pretty average band student. Come 8th grade, I joined my friends band playing bass, and was introduced to the world of music, particularly rock. I was focused on this very heavily until freshman year, when I began taking sax lessons, and was introduced to jazz. I have an obsessive personality when it comes to things that interest me, and jazz had been my greatest obsession thus far. I practiced my *** off, approaching the music from every direction I could, with this insatiable curiosity that kept up relentlessly for a good while. I listened to jazz 24/7. I read jazz advice articles during class. Everything was a journey, with new twists and turns at every corner of my development. I improved by leaps and bounds that year, and while I wasn't good, I made ridiculous progress. In that time, I felt, for a good while, that I could be the best player in the world if I just continued applying this obsession of mine. I didn't have to work hard one BIT. The motivation just came from inside of me, I was always willing to practice. Then, as with most of my other interests of mine, one day it just QUIT. I came to the realization one day that my interest was kind of just... falling out. I wasn't as into it as I had been the rest of the year. I panicked. I didn't know what to do. This was around the end of freshman year. I kind of juggled back and forth with this for a while, and since then, I've been juggling this terrible feeling. This feeling that I have to create all my will to practice. This feeling of anxiety every time I pick up the horn. I've almost lost my drive entirely and instead of thinking about jazz as this amazing thing to go work on and foster and get better at, I'll sit down to practice and become overwhelmed, trying to figure out how to make the most out of the 1-2 hour timespan I have to practice. It's like I lost all the analytical skills I had as a freshman. It's like I forgot how to practice almost entirely and just end up hacking for an hour or so because I'm not sure what to do. Long tones? Scales? Dynamics? Practicing ideas in all 12 keys? Applying my own theory and creating my own ideas? The list goes on. I'm just in this constant state of questioning - do I love what I'm doing? Will I ever get better at what I'm doing? I'm in a group chat full of fantastic saxophonists my age or older, all of which are better than me. They're constantly working, traveling out of state to go do gigs, making connections and whatnot like true working musicians. I have no idea where to start with "making connections", have never played a paying jazz gig before, and sound like shit compared to them. I want to go into music as a career, as it's one of the only things I'm really "good" at and enjoy doing, but I'm now questioning whether I'll be able to do that at all, if I can figure out how to prepare, how to make myself a better musician in the little time I have left in this town. I haven't made serious progress in over a year, and seemed to have forgotten to. The worst part about it all is I can't just get up and "grind" tomorrow when I have no idea what the hell I should even be WORKING ON. I just wanna feel like I did my freshman year - completely immersed in the music, obsessed with it, in love with jazz, not just the idea of it, knowing what to practice and when to practice it and how to practice it, a good but healthy amount of self deprecation but a strong sense of self confidence that I can improve. I just wanna love what I do again without feeling anxious and worried every time I think about it and how I can get good at it. I'm at my breaking point with this utter confusion, and am seeking to YOU guys as one of my last resorts.
If anyone can at all help me, it would be greatly appreciated.