If I had a dollar for every time in a rehearsal I instructed an ensemble “to listen,” I would be writing this blog on my private island in the Caribbean. Sadly, most of those times were the equivalent of asking this extremely bald band director to grow hair. A great concept, but not the least bit helpful.
However, by simply adding specifics of what to listen for to those instructions, everything changes. Now they have something to guide their listening. Something like: “Trumpets and alto saxes, listen to each other, because you have the same part.” “Bells listen to the flutes. You are playing the first note of each measure of their melodic line.” “Trombones, can you hear the tubas? If not, you may be playing too loudly.”
Any help at all is better than my silly request just “to listen.” Maybe I could have broken that habit earlier if I had simply trained my students to yell “listen to what?” when I said it!
Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
About the Author
Dr. Boonshaft is the author of the critically acclaimed best-selling books Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music with Promise. Dr. Boonshaft is currently on the faculty of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, where he is Professor of Music and Director of Bands. He has also been named Director of Education for KHS America. He was honored by the National Association for Music Education and Music For All as the first recipient of the “George M. Parks Award for Leadership in Music Education.”