In the past, I have written about the necessity of us making the use of the word “listen” actionable. Simply instructing a group to “listen” is of little help. Telling them what to listen for is arguably far more enlightening and illuminating. Likewise, our use of the word “again” or the phrase “do it again” suffers from the same problem. Instructing a group of students to do a passage again offers them little help as to why they are doing it again. Obviously, the conductor knows why, but the students often don’t. However, saying, “Let’s do that again and this time could we have less of the melody and more of the countermelody.” Or, “One more time, but I’d like the trumpets and flutes to listen to each other since you are playing the same thing an octave apart.” Or, “Percussion, please listen to the accents the low brass are playing and see if you can match their intensity.” Making our instructions as actionable as possible will pay dividends that will undoubtedly foster more productive rehearsals. They can’t help but do so!

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.