Trumpet Topics

Practice Habits:
Creating Habits

PRACTICE HABITS. We often characterize one's daily practice rituals as either being "good practice habits" or "poor practice habits", and in doing so we usually imply that the person usually has efficient practice methods or perhaps that the person simply has a high work ethic and simply maintains a very regular daily practice routine.

Habits, however, are simply actions or behavior patterns which can be performed unconsciously because of the reinforcement brought about by numerous repetitions of that pattern.

Playing a chromatic scale is a good example of a habit; once you've determined that a passage is a true chromatic scale you simply look for the beginning and ending note and you can play the entire melodic line without thinking about each individual note.

Excessive embouchure tension is another example of a habit. I once had a student who (initially) could play quite relaxed up to a high G, but attempting any note above the staff caused such incredible tension that it was impossible for him to get his tone to respond. This "phobia" of high notes was, in effect, a habit. It was an action which had been reinforced by years of "tensing-up" every time he was required to play a high note. This habit of his, I must say, was a formidable challenge for me to help him overcome.

A "bad" habit will result if you accidentally make repetitions of 1)a wrong note 2)an incorrect rhythm 3) excessive mouthpiece pressure 4)sloppy tonguing 5)etc, etc. I'm sure that you get my point: anything that you repeat will become ingrained.

Your body (or your mind) does not distinguish between good and bad habits. Be certain that in your practice session you are not careless in repeating and reinforcing bad habits. Habits are formed by numerous repetitions of an action. Therefore, make sure that the habits which you are forming are the ones you want to keep!

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