Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Power of Habit

Hi friends.
I thought I should give you a quick update on my journey of losing some weight this summer.  Like much that I endeavor, this has provided some great food for thought and new ideas on string education and my work conducting orchestras.

First, some of the nitty gritty on the weight.  I have been keeping in close contact with both my high school fiend and my brother-in-law on our respective progress.  So far, my Memorial Day weight of 217 has diminished to 202 lbs. as of yesterday.  I have really done a good job of changing many of my eating habits.  Bottom line: I am being mindful of what I put in my mouth.

As a related sidebar to the weight issue, I picked up a book recently called "The Power of Habit," by Charles Duhigg.  It has numerous applications to this weigh-loss issue and really has helped me understand my habits (eating and others) in a profound way.

Many of you know that I have been thinking about the habits of mind of orchestral musicians in recent months and have read my articles or attended my conference sessions on the topic.  This book has shed new light on my work as a conductor and educator and will find its way  into my "Habits of Mind" session in the future and my teaching in profound ways.  I strongly recommend this book to all music educators and anyone that wants to modify your habits for a better life.

I have become acutely aware that the process of teaching music and conducting honors orchestras is to identify student habits, help student musicians buy into the fact that they have habits that are detrimental to the ensemble, and then work to develop good ensemble habits with the folks that in in front of me.  It is actually very simple and and very complex at the same time.  Habits are tough to break.  We have to WANT to change our habits.  It is clear to me that not all musicians that are in an ensemble want to change their habits.  That is where my job of convincing them comes in.  For that to occur, the musician has to see that there will be a payoff, or reward in the end.  (sounds a little Pavlovian, doesn't it!)

Anyway, this is the brief update.  There will certainly be more to come.  Meanwhile, pick up The Power of Habit.  It is a good one.


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