So often as I look out at students in an ensemble, I see lots of them doing one specific thing that causes many different problems. It can show itself with any instrument, and when it does, it can start a chain reaction of bad habits that may cause even more problems. What is it? That students forget to always bring the instrument to them, not bring themselves to the instrument. When a student brings themselves (their head, neck, arms, and body) to any instrument, it causes a virtually endless list of problems with posture, embouchure, airflow, neck position, jaw placement, hand shape, arm position, body alignment, angle of the mouthpiece, projection, incorrect percussion playing technique, and the like. Will having students remember that simple rule cure every playing problem of this type? No. But it will go a long way toward preventing and curing many issues that all too often show themselves in our rehearsals. Once our students master correct posture, and how to hold the instrument, they need to simply bring the instrument to them to prevent so many issues from happening in the first place. And we all know how much easier it is to prevent problems than to fix them!

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.”