It takes a long time for stuff to really sink in. Like 2 years.
When I was taking lessons from Stephen Anderson at UNC, he told me that anything that I’m practicing now, I can expect to use in my playing 2 years from now. In other words, in about 2 years I could be a ripping keyboard player!
I’ve found this to be true- things that I practiced 2 years ago like walking bass lines and stock Aebersold style chord voicings, are pretty second nature to me now. New bebop stuff that I learned from Steve, not so much so yet.
What this means is that when you work on music, you have to set your sights pretty far into the future as far as setting goals. I think I made a blog post recently about this: I hope to be a competent keyboard player after 5 years of practicing (roughly January 2015 – feels like I’m on track to be there).
Then after 10 years I expect to be ‘really good’, perhaps at the level where well-known players will seek me out to tour, or perhaps I can play concerts. After 20 years, God willing, I expect to be ‘world class’, perhaps a household name among jazz organ aficionados around the world. These are murky goals at this point, but I think they make good things for me to shoot for.
I guess the point I’m trying to get across is don’t look for major improvement on your musical instrument over a short term. But if you keep at it, you might just surprise everyone by becoming the next Coltrane.