What are you thinking?

Right now, it’s 7:30 on Friday night, and I’m listening to a horn channel on YouTube as I write this. It’s been movie scores for the last few songs, so I’ve heard Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. The horn is a pretty sweet instrument, you might say… 😉

This week has tested my limits… and my sanity! It’s been so stressful. The APFT and the AMPA are huge events in the Army School of Music. If you failed either event this time around, you don’t get your civilian clothes or off-duty privileges in Week 5. We were tested physically for the APFT, and we were assessed pretty intensely for the AMPA. I felt such relief when I got my score for the AMPA! After that, yesterday and today FLEW by!

Luckily, we don’t have fireguard duty every other night or so, like we did at Basic Training. We do switch off with the Navy/Marine musicians for overnight and weekend duty. We have two hour shifts at the schoolhouse or at the barracks, depending on the time of day. At the schoolhouse, you sit at the front desk (the quarterdeck, actually) and check IDs and make sure everyone signs in and out. At the barracks, you watch monitors and go a seven minute patrols (yes, seven minutes exactly) on the hour. Rhody and I were assigned the last type of duty, the supernumerary. We were given a very old cell phone (a flip phone before the Razr) and were on call all night. We didn’t get a call, so we were able to live our life like usual! Not a bad way to start off…

Here’s a picture of us taking a break during Ceremonial Band:

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And here’s an etude I’m working on:

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I am not good at low horn playing. And honestly, this is not low horn! It’s like mid-low. But it’s not my strength, and even though I should have been working on it diligently in college, I never really practiced for my horn lessons. I’m sorry, Mr. Hoyt! It’s amazing what consistent practice does, though! I’ve been able to get through this etude many times now that I’m actually practicing correctly! Man, I was so excited the first time I made it through and hit those low Es… Like I said in my last post, it’s not always easy to be here. I don’t have much of a life, and I only have a few different things I can do on base. So when one thing isn’t going well, it’s kind of a big deal.

This leads right into my “what are you thinking?” question. I’ve been listening to many podcasts that talk about reframing your thoughts and experiences in a positive manner. Negative thoughts can turn into constant negative cycles of thinking, and well, that’s not helpful. With conscious effort, you can reframe those thoughts and change your brain’s thinking patterns. It will start to form new connections, away from the old negative stand-bys it was used to. It just takes practice. Even though this topic is super important to reflect upon in our lives, it really isn’t discussed very often. So you can imagine my surprise when the Concert Band director addressed this during rehearsal yesterday!

Lieutenant Lamb is our Concert Band director, and he’s so knowledgeable about conducting and musical concepts. Yesterday, however, he talked about the psychology of performance. His presentation mainly focused on the power of thoughts and the story you tell yourself. So one story that I tell myself is that I’m not good at low horn playing. It’s a fact, but I can’t let that define me. It’s not, “oh, I suck at low horn playing,” but rather, “I need to spend some time figuring out how to play low notes on the horn.”

Lt. Lamb first said that we live by our beliefs, which we learned from our family and early surroundings. They’re given to us without awareness. As we get older, we gain awareness, and then we can choose our beliefs. Thoughts with emotion, like love and fear, create beliefs – a belief is a union of a thought and an emotion. Lt. Lamb suggested that all possibilities already exist; our beliefs turn those possibilities into reality (an idea that Jess Lively at The Lively Show podcast is all about!). We essentially attract/create our experiences in life. You decide on a possibility that you want to occur, and you set your beliefs in tune to that. You make decisions and work toward that possibility, and it happens. I’m sure you can think of an instance in your own life where that’s been the case!

You become what you think. Thoughts and beliefs are part of the natural human condition. Negative thoughts prevent your brain from seeing all possibilities. I was listening to a podcast tonight, and they cited a study that was done with two self-identified groups, a positive mindset group and a negative mindset group. Each group was given a newspaper and were tasked with finding out how many pictures were in the paper. The negative mindset group took all of the allotted amount of time, three minutes, to count each picture, and they said there were 42 pictures. The positive mindset group opened the newspaper and read one of the headlines: “This newspaper has 42 pictures.” It took them about five seconds. They hadn’t closed themselves off to other, new, different possibilities! I thought that was so interesting. Negative thoughts program your brain to do a specific action. Positive thoughts broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which allows you to build new skills.

How do you change your thoughts? That voice never stops! By being aware, you can choose your beliefs. Recognize your “story.” It’s all about choice. You don’t really live your life as Past, Present, Future. Every decision you make, every thought you have, is determining where you are right now. We really live our lives as Future, Present, Past. The choices I make today are exactly what my Future will be. Because of awareness, you can choose what you believe and choose your life!

It. Is. Ok To. Fail. Why do you think that making a mistake or having something super flop is the end of the world? I mean, I totally am afraid of making a fool out of myself. I don’t want to appear weak, I don’t want to be proven wrong, I don’t want to try really hard and not get the result I was working for. But can I reframe those mistakes and failures as just another way of how NOT to do it? Ok, so that didn’t work, so now I can try something. That’s all it is. Don’t take it personally. Don’t attach meaning to it. It’s not a reflection on me, of my character. I need to accept that failures happen. My response needs to be in a manner that leads to success, not to more failure. Success and failure are just reflections of my state of mind. And I can choose to reframe in a positive manner that will lead to success.

In our first MPT class, we were shown a TED Ed video about music as a language. We get so excited when a child makes language connections, and we don’t obsess over their grammatical mistakes. We don’t scold them or make them feel embarrassed. They’re trying and learning and we applaud that. Why don’t we approach learning our instruments in the same way? Check it out!

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/victor-wooten-music-as-a-language

Well, I’m so glad tonight was a chill night – we have a six mile ruck march tomorrow at 0430! I packed my ruck earlier this evening. Will made fun of my serious face, and I get it, lol:

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Verse of the Day:
1 John 4:13-15
– This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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