- I had been the first chair player in all of my school bands for the past 3 years
- I was starting to learn to improvise - school jazz band and going down to nightclubs on the South Side for jazz jam sessions. (where some VERY tolerant, helpful players let me learn....)
- I was playing gigs with funk/rock bands and did a couple of union contract jobs (backup orchestra for Teddy Pendergrass, Nancy Wilson, etc.) 4th chair stuff.
- I wanted to be a musician in the worst way...when I wasn't working or in school or doing the playing above, I was practicing!
- and I had learned by then NEVER to judge my progress against someone else's. I always judged my progress based on my own evolution as a musician.