When I was a kid, I played little league baseball. While fielding a position, my coaches taught me to keep my right thumb between my first two fingers when the pitcher started to make his pitch. This way, if a ball was hit to me, my fingers would go to the ball in my glove with perfect hand position for throwing a baseball (see pictures below).
I’ve noticed lately that when I’m walking around that my right thumb is often between my first two fingers! I haven’t played baseball in little league for decades, but the finger position habit I developed as a kid is still with me! [I just stopped typing, looked down, and there was my right thumb between my first two fingers!]
The illustration above shows in a small way how we live our lives in habits and routines. In view of this, I believe it is vital that we constantly work to ingrain good habits (physical and mental) in our own clarinet playing and that of our students.
Here’s an example of how this works out in the clarinet (and saxophone, etc.) world. Right now music majors at colleges and universities in the USA are feverishly preparing scales, etudes, solos and such for upcoming music juries in May. Many are in a panic because they did not spend enough time earlier in the semester learning their music slowly and carefully – they rushed through the music playing it too fast for accurate learning. They made habits of no dynamics, poor rhythms, and even wrong notes. Now, they are spending lots and lots and lots of time frantically trying to fix the jury music and “unlearn” all the ingrained (or habitualized) crummy playing. (For help on practicing – GO HERE.)
NOTE: The above is modified version of a previous post.