I professionally help people break obstructive habits. As an adult beginner on the cello, I was able to consciously witness first-hand how I acquired bad habits – “homemade” so to speak, by watching Youtube videos. And that was not always pleasant, but extraordinarily instructive. How do you teach yourself a bad habit?
The struggle with the left hand
Over Christmas, there was an extended period without cello lessons, so I practiced quite a bit on my own, without control from my teacher. My private “beginner’s struggle” relates precisely to my left hand, for which, as a right-handed person, I have very little awareness.
Now I find it really difficult to maintain the roundness of the left hand while playing and to bend the fingers in such a way that the first phalanges of the fingers stand relatively steeply on the string and fingerboard (which is important for the sound). Moreover, this posture contradicts what I have learned as “ideal” for other instruments (piano and recorder).
“Jacqueline du Pré – in – spe”
So: What does the ambitious “Jacqueline du Pré – in – spe” do? Exactly. Watching Youtube videos – many…. very many… After that I was convinced that it is important that the fingers are parallel on the fingerboard. This is completely unergonomic – but: I’ve seen it after all….
Now, fortunately, my teacher noticed my spasmodic efforts, and when I reported that I wanted to put my fingers parallel, she said, “But who told you to do that?” And with a twinkle in her eye, “Or did you read that somewhere?”
The only answer: Me. No one else. Homemade.
Some bad habits are trained by choice.
I can’t blame anyone else. And I wonder how many more of my hindering habits I’ve trained myself based on complete voluntariness. How do you teach yourself a bad habit? Among other things, by trying to do it particularly well.
And I suspect that these are also the most persistent of their kind…
Knowing your “favourite” ways to acquire habits helps you un-learn them when they become obstacles.
We´ re in this together. It´ s my most favourite thing to help you update your habits.
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