Habits are hard to break

I was teaching today and explaining to a trumpet student the bad habit that he had acquired with his tonguing.  His tongue is coming between his teeth instead of touching behind his front teeth.

Why is this important?

It dawned on me that when I play my trombone, I do the same thing.  Always have.  Have known it since college and have never changed.  Gave one of the 5 best senior trombone recitals one of the jazz faculty had ever heard.  Still tonguing between my teeth.  The wrong way.

Why is this important?

I’ve never broken a bad habit once I acquire it.  Tongue between my teeth.  Still chew my finger nails.  Eat bad food out of habit.  I’m sure there’s more but it’s late.

I wonder why that is………



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6 responses to “Habits are hard to break

  1. I guess I was just the opposite. I had pretty good technique, and was taught by one of the finest low brass instructors around, but I don’t think my senior recital had top-5 status. In fact, one of my profs fell asleep during mine!

    Good stuff here though, Doug. The easy answer is that we’re creatures of habit, but I think there’s more to it than that. We pick and choose what’s important to us and what we believe is important to change.

  2. Beth

    And why don’t you (we) look at (y)our GOOD habits? Loving our spouses and remaining true, putting our kids first, taking care of others, trusting God (most of the time ), celebrating life.

    Who really cares if you tongue the “right” way..and who decided what the “right” way is? I have ALWAYS loved hearing you play – you are an amazing musician. I will concede that the nail biting is unsanitary, but really who is it hurting? In the grand scheme, who cares! : ) We all need to look at all the wonderful, amazing things we do and let go of some of the other things.

    I will now step off my soap-box so you can resume your day. : )

  3. Pam

    I’m with Beth. And how the heck are you? And because I can’t resist, I think our bad habits are deep seated control issues that satan uses to keep us from fully trusting God – and we let them get the best of us. Think about it – when we’re worrying about our bad habits (I have my share – love good cheesecake enough to eat a perfectly good piece out of the garbage can if it doesn’t have coffee grounds on it) we focus less on better things.

    Just brushing the surface. And I still tongue wrong. Could it have been our education? Finding it hard to teach my students right. Do you want to be good or do you want to be right? Seems like a bad question.

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  5. It is always possible to break a habit if you want to. How bad do you want it?

  6. Paul Martin

    There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to tongue on a brass instrument, and I dare say Satan doesn’t much enter into it either: Every aspect of your technique is either “optimal” or “sub-optimal,” and there are plenty of professional players who tongue between their lips and nobody can tell the difference.

    If something works well, keep it until it seems to hinder you in some way, then see if a different approach works better for you; no need to fix things that have not shown themselves to be broken.

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