#63 Pacing

I like a fast-paced rehearsal. No, I love a fast-paced rehearsal. I think I can keep my students awake and energized better, and get more done in less time. But that’s me. I also know that a moderately-paced rehearsal can no doubt be wonderfully effective, and that a varied-paced rehearsal might be fantastic and the best of all possibilities. But, I dread watching a slow-paced rehearsal. When I say “slow,” […]


#62 Stravinsky Knew

In the first moments of your next rehearsal, after getting the students quiet and focused, go to the board and with no words of explanation simply write these words: “I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it. – Igor Stravinsky.” Then, just stand there and look at those profound words in silence. I’ll bet your students read it. I wonder what else will […]


#61 Percussion, I Have A Question For You...?

I was recently speaking at a workshop for band directors and was asked a fantastic question: “Why don’t most band directors treat percussionists like the rest of the members of the band?” I immediately replied with a two-part quasi-rhetorical question in reply: So, you are obviously a percussionist (I was pretty certain of that!) and can you give me a few examples of what you mean (I sadly didn’t really […]


#60 A Soprano?

I am often asked by band directors for suggestions about books to read.  And I always worry about doing so for fear it will be like recommending a favorite restaurant to a friend only to find out that they went there and thought it was terrible.  With heartfelt enthusiasm, I would recommend reading the remarkable book, “A Soprano on Her Head” by Eloise Ristad.  It is truly extraordinary, thought-provoking and […]


#59 Impossible

Cicero, the great philosopher, held that one of The Six Mistakes of Man was “Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.” When I think something not doable, more importantly, when I fear my students think something not doable, I always remember the affirmation of Wernher von Braun, considered the father of the U. S. space program, “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with the […]


#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. […]