#58 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Minutes of Teaching

The next time you start to chide the students in your band about posture for the umpteenth time, don’t do it. Instead, ask them to sit with terrible posture. Then take a photo of the entire group. This may need to wait until you are in an auditorium or gym or large space (and you may need school district, parent or administrative approval to do it), but it’s worth it. […]


#57 Hearing is Believing

The next time you are about to read a new piece with your band, especially if it is during the first few rehearsals of the school year, record them. That’s right! Then hold on to that gem. Sit on it. Wait. Wait some more. Keep waiting. And then, after great progress has been made, maybe even the day before the concert, play it for them. Then keep it for those […]


#56 Buzz

During your next rehearsal, while working on a chorale, ballad or lyrical passage in a piece, ask your brass players to buzz their parts on their mouthpieces while the rest of the band performs normally.  I actually prefer having only one section at a time buzz rather than all the brass at once – to provide more reference pitches as well as more of a cushion of ensemble sound for […]


#55 The Wisdom of a Cookie

When correcting a student in rehearsals, I always worry about whether I make it clear enough that I am speaking about the actions or behavior of that student, not criticizing the person.  I hope they understand I am unhappy with what was done, not unhappy with them as a person.  I worry whether that distinction is clear.  To that end, I have tried my best to refer to players by […]


#54 Hope

Do you ever get frustrated with the progress of your ensemble?  Me too.  But no matter the cause of our frustration, no matter the hurdles we must jump, no matter the tiny steps we might have to have our students take, no matter the repetitions needed, no matter anything, we must remember the words of William Purkey and John Novak that remind us that “Education is fundamentally an imaginative act […]


#53 Still I Am Learning

Fact: I want my students to relish learning new things. Fact: My students will often model and imitate the things I do. Fact: My students should see me excited about learning something new. So, how about you walk into a rehearsal and share something new with your students that you just learned about the piece you are working on, or about the composer of that piece, or about music in […]