The Pattern Interrupt


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The Pattern interrupt –

Creating a Mission toward Mastery


I’m glad I’m relatively strong.  I used to move our furniture around ….often: maybe once a month, sometimes more often.  I would interrupt any patterns of lethargy in myself or my family. That was a challenge with four kids and six dogs.  Don’t judge you hardly knew they were around,….the dogs I mean.  Each of us had our own red (or close) poodle for unconditional love.  It worked.  Here is a picture of our new little puppy ‘Pippin’.  Oh my heart, does he get attention. For my life now, even Pippin is playing the part of a ‘pattern interrupt’.

 If we started to get too comfortable with sitting around a TV I’d move it………… I guess I have to admit that was my way of cleaning the house as well.    Maybe moving the furniture was extreme.  But it worked for me.

A Pattern interrupt;  Why bother?

Why force the discomfort just to make change?

Life isn’t easy and it is full of turns and twists and unexpected struggles.   I always wanted our home to be a Shangri-La away from the world.  Anyone using its refuge was to feel safe and unexamined.  Their business hats could come off and they could be totally kids again, safe and growing.  But laziness wasn’t part of the deal.  So, if I sensed, mostly in myself, a bit of ‘ennuyé,  I’d simply make a change – A ‘Pattern Interrupt’

Make a plan and work the plan.

The comfort of the ‘same old same old’ is often a rut that prevents progress. Ruts or habits do give comfort but they grove an actual rut in the upper part of your brain.  That’s why they are so hard to get rid of.  They start in a pleasure area in the frontal cortex and move back to where obsessions hide out.  No wonder it is so difficult to stop them.  I always say, start another ‘good’ habit that resembles the poor habit and you can kick it.

 And now, the application for musicians.

Practice partners need to be aware of the tendency of just practicing to get it done rather than improve. They will need to be involved enough to plan a way to interrupt the pattern.   A students’ practice time can diminish into a time of frustration, sometimes snowballing into a time of crying – ‘I can’t’.  Be sure it isn’t manipulation and work on the frustration.

 Interrupt the pattern by making the impossible thing important enough to conquer.  Pay attention to the little ‘I can’t’. What is it you ‘can’t.   Single it out.  Make it the center of focus for a bit.   Improve your skills through repetition.  Then have fun with it.  Laugh.  Create a ‘mission’ to reach a goal and make it stick. Be aware that any repetition of the wrong thing will create a habit, and as we discussed, habits are tough to break.     Once established, a helping hand is often needed to pull you out.

Before the habit takes hold, make it a success by drawing a picture of a road and moving something down the road with each repetition of the ‘I can’t’ – specific challenging part. Make the successful try their favorite color and the unsuccessful gray.  Even a failure is a success because success and failure are on the same road and you are moving toward your goal with every attempt to reach it whether successful or not. Hopefully, there will be more successful attempts as you move down the road.  Always offer a positive ‘alternative-way-of-thinking’ about something to create the pattern interrupt and soon, you will be flowing in a positive course toward your goals.

If we don’t interrupt our automatic reactions, we won’t be in control of them.  We want our thoughts to be positive, confident, encouraging, decisive thoughts.  Without the ‘Pattern interrupt’, our automatic thoughts take over and literally protect us from change.

I realize that this is somewhat simplistic.  We could have adrenal glands that are exhausted causing negative attitudes.  Do you know what one of the number one remedies for that is…..change…get out into wide open spaces.  Take the kids to a park and play your music.  Go onto a boardwalk and face the ocean and play…be sure to leave out your case for anyone showing their appreciation.  We can’t blame-shift and hope it isn’t our fault.

Maturity gives power over even our ailing bodies.  It is partly developed through taking our thoughts and actions and forming them into what we would want to become.  Encourage your ten years olds to imagine what traits in adults they highly respect then give them a path to becoming that person.

Help them to become self-directed by first recognizing the fact that they might be sinking into an undesirable pattern, possibly laziness, distraction or discouragement.  Then interrupt the pattern.  Show them how to redirect their actions and mental thoughts.  Not only will this prevent the adolescent loss of direction but it will help them to be actively responsible for who they become when they walk through the door of adulthood and independence and find themselves accountable for everything.  So much more, but that can be for later.

I just opened an etsy store.


Check it out! It is called: Color-Coded Music



Remember:  a note that is sharp or flat is notated with a circle the color of the note it is moving toward.  Just a little help while we are learning.



The Brain and how we process information

Tools to teach

Violin Sheet Music – Paperbacks

Book One

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes

Tools to teach

Violin Sheet Music –


Pretwinkle books

   tutorial videos

on computer and


and music theory games

digital books


Book One

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes



Violin  Book two

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin  Book three

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin Great Extra


Big Book of Gum Drop Notes




The ’10 Minute Music Theory Card Games’ ™ is a year long series of card games intended to be played at the end of each lesson.  This slowly builds understanding from the simplest concept until it is intrinsically understood. Students want to come to lessons because they are motivated and excited about learning.  Their progress is solid and steady.  They understand intervals and otherwise difficult music theory concepts by playing games until they are at lightning speed.  All games include ‘clue cards‘ with all the answers ‘nurture don’t test’.

‘The Magnificent Fingerboard ™’  is the basis for reference.  Students become familiar with the notes and the patterns. Combined with listening to the music, the understanding of the notes and their relationship to the notes around them, is a great musical foundation.

Ten Minute Music Theory

Card Games Series


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