Picture taking your first flying lesson and being asked by your flight instructor to land the plane by yourself. Or that during your first driving lesson you were asked to parallel park the car. Crazy, right? Absolutely! But to a beginner, some of the very challenging things we ask them to do might seem just as traumatic and impossible. Sure we cushion difficult tasks by providing tiny steps toward the goal, and anticipate what might be a struggle to learn by strengthening precursive actions, but nonetheless, for some students, it can seem as daunting as landing a plane or parallel parking a car. The answer for me rests in trying to remember what it was like when I first learned what I am about to ask my students to do. Putting ourselves in their place is a great way to feel what they feel, to worry about what they worry about, to know the frustrations they are sensing, and to remember the dread that might be wafting over them. There is no question that the better we hone our teaching skills, the more we can lessen or alleviate those things. But remembering that very moment when we first were learning something is certainly a great way to think about what we do and how we do it.

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. 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.” Dr. Boonshaft was selected for the Center for Scholarly Research and Academic Excellence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, where he is Professor Emeritus of Music.