When it comes to recruiting and retention, all too often and unintentionally, I feel we practice what I call The Salmon Principle of Recruiting and Retention. We recruit as many beginning students as we can, teach them the best we can, and hope they make it to graduation with an instrument in their hands. To me, that is the equivalent of sending lots of salmon upstream, praying that as many as possible will not be eaten by bears or get dashed on the rocks, hoping enough make it upriver to keep that ecosystem alive. It works, but it is based on a giant gamble with very little control over the outcome. Every opportunity we have to praise a child for the smallest steps forward, the tiniest progress, helps them stay motivated and inspired to continue their journey. I believe our every action can alter those odds of success profoundly and help our students stay the course we know is so vitally important.

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.