When was the last time you consciously thought about how to brush your teeth? Do you even remember?
Abe works at it, but be does not know how to brush his teeth yet. He can kind of move his arm back and forth (left and right) to get the front teeth, but he cannot do the in/out motion to get his back teeth. And he can’t rotate the toothbrush to get the inside and outside faces of the teeth. Do you struggle with moving your arm? I hope not. It’s so natural for you now.
When did you last concentrate on how to walk? Maybe a recent injury made you concentrate a little harder, but for the most part, we just stand up and start walking.
I just finished a book called The Power of Habit. The most interesting part, to me, was the fact that our brain creates habits so it doesn’t have to think. Anything we do repeatedly gets logged in there as a habit so we can use our brains on other things.
Even a brain damaged man with only a 30-second memory span created habits. He would play the kids game “Memory”—the one where you turn over two tiles to see if the pictures match. The game was arranged the same way every time, but he’d forget he ever played the game. Every single day. Multiple times per day.
Finally, his brain created a habit without his even knowing it. One day, he walked up to the game and chose two perfectly matching tiles. He was amazed at himself, because he thought he was choosing at random. In reality, his habits were kicking in!
Life is easier when you no longer need to concentrate on basics. For choir, the basics are pitch (how high or low to sing), tempo (how fast the song is) and value (how long or short to hold a note). We practice the same songs every week in order to build habits.
Hopefully, over time, the habits kick in and you can concentrate on the more important things in choir… singing beautifully, dynamics, tone, placement, etc.
Practice well and the rest will come in time. Just keep faithfully building those habits!