#7. Repeating Directions

I got into a routine, well, more like a rut. During rehearsals, after stopping to correct something. I would identity the problem spot, state what was troubling me, and what I wanted them to try. Then I would say something like: “Let’s go back to Letter G.” The rut was that I would then continue to repeat the spot we were going to start from several times. So it sounded […]


#6. Where Are We Headed?

“If we don’t change the direction we are going,” a Chinese proverb suggests, “we are likely to end up where we are heading.”


#5. Mr. Jacobs

I recently met a young man – a college freshman – who excitedly talked about his goal of someday being a music teacher. I asked him about what led him to that decision. His answer was simple: “Mr. Jacobs, my sixth grade band director.” He went on to talk about this teacher who was his inspiration. He mentioned how excited Mr. Jacob’s was during every rehearsal. That he was always […]


#4. One More Rehearsal

If you knew that your next rehearsal would be your last rehearsal, how would it be different? Time is a gift promised to no one.


#3. Familiarity Breeds Ignoring

Choose one thing you regularly do in rehearsal. It could be anything: one phrase you say just before you start conducting, one activity you do in a warm-up, or one gesture you use a lot. Now think about whether it has impact. Anything used once has impact, but used too often and that very same thing loses its intensity and power to communicate. Basically, the more we see or hear […]


#2. Habitual Sight

Have you noticed yourself looking at the same few students as you teach or conduct? I do, and I find they fall into two categories: those who are always looking back at me, because it feels so wonderful to have that communication with them. Or, those kids that I fear could get out-of-hand at any second, because we want to prevent them from thinking they have that chance. I think […]