As of today, a few [some…many…most…all!] of you who made New Year’s Resolutions have broken at least one [some…many…most…all!]. Don’t give up! Below is some help for you – and ME! Let us think about and work on our HABITS, such as the important habit of great practice!
BROKEN New Year’s Resolutions? Think HABITS Instead!
by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
BASEBALL! (Pitchers and Catchers Report in 41 Days!) 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 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 embouchure, tonguing, voicing, relaxation, posture, confidence, etc.
ClarinetMike says, “Constantly Load GREAT HABITS!”
PS. Here’s an example of how this often works out in the clarinet (and saxophone, etc.) world. In coming weeks, many high school seniors here in the USA will be taking auditions for entrance and scholarships at colleges, universities and conservatories. Some of them will play “high, loud, and fast” with blinding technical speed but will be passed over (i.e. not accepted or given scholarships) because they have poor fundamentals such as bad tone, articulation, rhythm, etc. (This is true for some All-Staters, too! I know some horror stories….)