When one is bombarded with too much information all at once, it causes what is known as “Information Fatigue.” The result of this condition is a sense of apathy, indifference, disinterest, stress, and mental exhaustion. Basically, we “tune out” and give up. We all have experienced this, and I think we can agree it is uncomfortable, debilitating, frustrating, and unproductive to say the least. I wince at the thought of certain classes I took in college where this was the norm. I also remember extraordinary teachers who seemed to know exactly how much information was enough, never crossing that line that would cause information fatigue. One of the most common ways this problem rears its head – and one I am so very guilty of myself – is when we are rehearsing and we inundate students with a myriad of things to do, think about, correct, listen to, or change all at once, each time we stop. Why do we do it? I think for two reasons: we have just stockpiled all of those “things to do” in our mind while they were playing, and we don’t want to forget to tell our students any one of them. Also, we do it in an effort to save time. We think that by stopping less often and showering them with all of those things, we are saving time. The problem, as we all come to figure out very quickly, is that information fatigue sets in and derails those great intentions. If we simply remember to limit our instructions to a few things at a time – or less – almost like magic, those things are attended to by our performers, and we accomplish far more because we prevent that dreaded enemy of progress: information fatigue.

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.