I was recently speaking at a workshop for band directors and was asked a fantastic question: “Why don’t most band directors treat percussionists like the rest of the members of the band?” I immediately replied with a two-part quasi-rhetorical question in reply: “So, you are obviously a percussionist (I was pretty certain of that!) and can you give me a few examples of what you mean (I sadly didn’t really need that answered, but I wanted to give him a chance to vent!)?”

Sadly, I fear his concern is valid. But, rather than talk about why that is, I would ask each of us to think about ways we can continue to make sure this isn’t happening in our rehearsals by asking artistic questions and having meaningful creative discussions with our percussionists. “Susan, do you like the tone color of those bell mallets?” “George, how do you think you could dampen the bass drum to match the phrases in the brass choir at rehearsal number 45?” “Alex, which triangle do you think blends best with the timbre of the flutes at letter D?” “Ellie, do you think we should use the same crash cymbals in the trio as we do in the rest of this march?”

Can we do it all the time? No. We just don’t have the time. But, when we can, it will pay off in ways unimaginable.

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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