#50 Don’t Do It Again!

Have you ever repeated a passage several times in rehearsal only to find that it starts to get worse? One theory to explain that is that after a student does it, his or her brain says, “I already did that, why should I pay attention to doing it again!” And every repletion erodes in quality. But, by simply changing the mode or technique when repeating – even though it is […]


#49 Persistence

Calvin Coolidge stated, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” It got me wondering, how we can foster – teach, if you will – persistence? My best conclusion is that […]


#48 Curiosity

The older I get, the more I am convinced that piquing the curiosity of our students is one of the most, if not the most, important results of teaching. Learning a fact is great. Learning a technique is terrific. But, learning to be curious, wanting to know more about a topic than required, is quite simply awesome. It is like having the keys to the world. Albert Einstein might have […]


#47 The Earlier The Better!

When students sense they are playing poorly, they can become like mules: very hard to move forward, very willing to stay put. But, we all know that if we start them with music so “easy” they sound good, or can sound good in short order, they start to become more like The Little Engine That Could: thinking they can. It’s so easy for our students to “throw in the towel” […]


#46 …if you knew you could not fail?

I often think of a question posed by Robert H. Schuller: “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” How liberating it would be if we all would be willing to take those educational risks, deriving pleasure when they succeed, and learning valuable information when they don’t? Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education KHS America


#45 Nonverbal Signals

At your next rehearsal, try using a nonverbal signal to represent something you want students to do, or not to do. Then, for the first few times you use it, say what you want as you use the signal. After that, only use the signal. I am convinced that most of what I say in rehearsals can be replaced with nonverbal cues that save time, and often, everyone’s spirits. Peter […]