Most anything used once has an impact. But used too often, and that very same thing loses its intensity and power. Basically, the more we see or hear something, the more we tend to ignore it and not pay attention to it. That is certainly true, abundantly true, when it comes to warm-up exercises. Even the best exercise, used daily, allows students to “tune out” (no pun intended) and go through the motions on autopilot. In so doing, they are probably not thinking about what and how they are playing, but rather just going through the paces since they know the exercise by heart. But we all know an ensemble needs several or many times with an exercise to reap its rewards. And therein lies the conundrum. Doing that same exercise over and over allows for that autopilot scenario. I believe the answer rests in having several exercises of the same type, with the same goals, that are just different enough that the students can’t do it by rote and will need to pay attention. Thus reinforcing and developing the concept without the worry of them playing it on autopilot.
Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
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