Brassatomic habits: change your frame

We have all been there. It’s the end of a long day, but there are still pieces on our practice stand that haven’t been looked at. But we have to do it, because we want to get better. We don’t want to lose our technique. We want to keep the habit. We don’t want to “break the chain.”

In this case, it comes down to our outlook. If we have to do something, we can endure for a day or maybe a week. But eventually we push back and refuse. We burn out. What if we changed our outlook? Are we even allowed?

The way we frame our thoughts about trumpet playing matters

Yes, we can change our perspective. Whenever you feel a dark cloud of drudgery over your practice stand, change the words that are going through your mind. Words are so powerful, even if they are words that you say to yourself. Instead of “I have to do this,” think or say aloud, “I get to do this.” This is called reframing, and it is one of our most powerful mental tools. It is not just a empty gesture, but a way to push our emotional state from dread to enthusiasm and optimism. When you say, “I get to practice,” you are expressing your gratitude for what you plan on doing.

If you feel the need, you can also convince yourself with some explanation for why you are changing these words. You can explain why you are feeling grateful for the opportunity to notch one more practice session. You can think, “this session will get me closer to my goals,” or, “my identity is rooted in doing quality work on the trumpet.”

Of course this works for any necessary situation that feels like drudgery (not just music). When I think of how universal this is, it reminds me of one of the reasons I had for deciding to become a trumpet player when I was young. In the back of my mind I knew that trumpet playing was a great way to grow as a human being. With our trumpets in hand, let’s keep growing!


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