When we stand in front of a group of beginners (or not beginners for that matter!) we know that we can start by assessing many things that are shared by everyone before we start assessing those aspects of specific instrument sections. Basic things like whether they all have their feet flat on the floor, or that their backs are away from the chair. But one of my favorites to check, and one of the easiest to see, is that their elbows are not touching the sides of their bodies. Think about it. No traditional band of orchestra instrument is best played with the performer’s elbows touching their body. So often, this problem is the root cause, or at least a great contributor to poor posture, shoulder tension, problematic playing position, lack of finger/wrist/arm motion, and flexibility, which limits playing technique, facility, and speed. By watching for that simple thing we can make a world of difference in how our students perform.

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.