BASEBALL! 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!]
CLARINET! The above is a small, but significant, illustration of the power of habit to shape our lives. In view of this, I believe it is vital that we constantly work to ingrain great habits (physical and mental) in our own clarinet playing and that of our students. This is true not only for the rhythms, notes and dynamics of a specific work one is working on, but with fundamentals such as relaxation, posture, confidence, embouchure, tone, tonguing, voicing, etc.
Here’s an example of how this often works out in the clarinet (and saxophone, etc.) world. In late April, music majors at colleges and universities in the USA will be feverishly preparing scales, etudes, solos and such for upcoming music juries in May. Some will be 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. Then in late April, they’ll spend 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.)
ClarinetMike says, “Constantly Load GREAT HABITS!”
NOTE: The above is modified version of a previous post.