When correcting a student in rehearsals, I always worry about whether I make it clear enough that I am speaking about the actions or behavior of that student, not criticizing the person.  I hope they understand I am unhappy with what was done, not unhappy with them as a person.  I worry whether that distinction is clear.  To that end, I have tried my best to refer to players by their “instrument part” when saying anything negative, reserving their name to be used when it is a positive comment.  It sounds cumbersome, but it really isn’t.    
“Timpani, you are a measure behind.” versus “Steve, thank you for watching so well that time through!”  I know it seems overly protective of hurting someone’s feelings.  And it is.  Why do I think it is so important?  Maybe I can explain my concern with the wisdom of a fortune cookie I got once: “When you make a mistake, be angry at having made the mistake, not at the person who made it.”  Indeed.


Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
KHS America

About the Author

Dr. Boonshaft is the author of the critically acclaimed best-selling books Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music with Promise. Dr. Boonshaft is currently on the faculty of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, where he is Professor of Music and Director of Bands. He has also been named Director of Education for KHS America. 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.”

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