So often, I walk into band rooms and see vast numbers of necks wrenching to see the conductor. Those poor students all trying to get a glimpse of their teacher by slumping, turning, twisting, bending, and contorting their heads, necks, and bodies in an effort to watch the conductor they have been told to stare at throughout rehearsals. So often the result of this is that their posture and playing position goes to heck in a handbasket. And that’s putting it mildly. But what can be done? Well, if you’ve gone to a new movie theater lately, you know the answer. When I was young, I would go to the movies and struggle to see the screen because of the head of the person in the row in front of me, which was directly in front of my head. Fast forward many decades, and the situation is so much better in new theaters because they figured out that if they offset each chair by half a chair, it creates an opening, or gap for people to see through. Basically, it makes a channel between the shoulders of the people in front of you. Voilà! Taking a page from the cinema, I find that if we offset the chairs in every row of our ensemble set-up by half a chair’s width, players rarely have to twist and wrench to see over the person in front of them. And I figure that the easier I make watching me, the more often they will. Try it, and you might be amazed at how many more faces are staring back at you!

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.