The turning point was a very disruptive event in my musical life. You may have read the story somewhere else on my blog. But the short version is this:
Back in the day at Berklee College I had set my targets on studying with the great Hal Crook – one of the best musicians & educators at Berklee and, quite frankly, in the world.
I really wanted to get into one of his ensembles at the school. It would have been a great learning experience. But it also would have meant that I had ‘arrived’ as one of the cats in school. I know, I was very ego driven back then. Not anymore though;)
Anyway, Berklee used an ensemble rating system at the time, and Hal’s groups had some of the highest rating requirements at Berklee.
After years working to get my ensemble ratings high enough, I registered for an ensemble with Mr. Crook. Man, I was psyched. I practiced like hell in the weeks leading up to the first class. I had finally 'arrived' and I was ready to kick some musical butt!
Instead, I showed up and got my ass handed to me. Hal told me I wasn’t ready for the group. He told me that I didn’t need to be a better instrumentalist. I needed experience playing with people. He told me to go out and play.
I had been told all the same lines:
Practice makes perfect.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
And I listened. I followed instructions. And I put in the time. Upwards of 6-8 hours + in the practice room every day. I sacrificed girlfriends, social life, family vacations. You name it.
All because I had to put in my time in the shed.
After all that. After doing what I was ‘supposed to do’, I still got booted out of Hal Crook’s ensemble. WTF!!!
I was pissed. I was crushed. I was a little bit broken.
This was a crisis of confidence to say the least. But it shook me up and woke me up.