Why do our students quit instrumental music?  Well, we have all read studies that outline a vast number of causes, and I am sure they all contribute to the large number of students who leave our programs.  But I believe when we drill deep enough into each case, and distill the information to its core, one glaring sentiment would be found, that is in part, if not completely the reason:  that the student didn’t think they were very good at it.  It’s simple: if I don’t believe I am very good at playing my instrument, I will quit. Are there other reasons?  Yes, of course.  But if we could get every child to believe they are succeeding, I can’t help but believe we would lose fewer students.  So maybe when it comes to retention, our goal should be that we make sure our students feel success in whatever way they can, at whatever speed they progress, and at whatever ability level they are.  If my teacher makes me think and feel that I am getting better and getting good at some things, I will believe it too.   

Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
KHS America

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.”

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