The older I get, the more I realize the power of, and absolute necessity for our words to be actionable. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have stood in front of an ensemble and instructed them to “listen.” I can hear me saying it now, “Let’s start at rehearsal 102, and listen!” Sadly, saying that to my band was exactly like you telling this very bald old man to “grow hair!” It is a lovely sentiment, but it is absolutely meaningless – for me – because it is not actionable. It is basically worthless advice. But by giving them a target, goal, reason, focus or purpose to concentrate on, we will have made it actionable. Thus, useful. “Trumpets: listen to the alto saxes, since they are playing that ostinato with you.” “Bass drum: listen to the tubas, because you are playing the notes in their part that are accented.” “Clarinets: listen to the bassoons, because you are playing the countermelody to their melody.”  The start of something wonderful being done in rehearsal might just well be that the instructions to do so can be acted upon.

Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
KHS America

About the Author

Dr. Boonshaft, Director of Education for KHS America, 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. 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.”