We have all witnessed ensembles do more than we thought possible or go farther than we imagined. When that happens, it is a reminder that so often the sum of the parts is so much greater than them individually. Call it teamwork, cooperation, synergy, or any number of other words, but it is nothing short of magical. When discussing the importance of that concept of collaboration with his students, my colleague Dr. George Giuliani explains it to them using an airplane’s ability to fly as a wonderful example: “You see, an airplane is made up of thousands and thousands of parts. Each part is an essential component of the airplane and its overall functioning. Yet, for me, the most interesting part of an airplane is that there’s not one piece of an airplane that by itself can fly. The wheel cannot fly, the tail cannot fly, the wing cannot fly, etc. No one piece makes the airplane take off, fly thousands of feet in the sky, and then land safely. But, when all the pieces come together and work exactly as they are supposed to, then all of those pieces that cannot fly work in harmony and somehow, get the plane to fly and land safely. Think about that. Independently, no one piece of an airplane flies. But working together, the airplane can do something spectacular and can take you around the world. But only when all the many pieces do their jobs, do them right, and cohesively function as a unit, can an airplane do what independently, none of the pieces alone can. If one piece does not work or do its specific job, the airplane may not ever fly.” I think we can all agree that life-lesson is priceless, as is every student coming to realize their incredible importance. 

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.”