As you start your next ensemble rehearsal, simply write the following words on the board without saying a word: “It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you could do it alone.” Those profound words of Andrew Carnegie embody so much of the essence of what we hope students will come to understand by being in a performing group: them realizing how their playing fits as part of their section, their contribution to the whole ensemble, how they need to adjust the relative foreground or background of what they are playing, and so much more. I hope students not only understand that the sum of the parts is greater than the parts alone, but also that the constant vigilance of their listening, adjusting, asserting themselves, and yielding to others allows them to truly understand that other people can help them do a better job than they could ever do alone.

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.