The remarkable twentieth-century cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich said, “You must play for the love of music. Perfect technique is not as important as making music from the heart.” Maybe one of the hardest lessons we must help our students learn is that their technique must be developed so it can serve the expressive qualities of the music they make. I find we almost always do that while our bands rehearse pieces. We strive for that as we work through every composition. But, all too often, I hear ensembles “warm-up” playing exercises where those concepts take a back seat. Those exercises sound like perfunctory, mechanical drills. I think one of the surest ways to accomplish that lofty, but essential goal found in the words of Maestro Rostropovich is to insist on the same sensitive playing, beautiful tone, wonderful phrasing, nuanced shaping of lines, exquisite balance, elegant attacks and releases, and the like, as our students play every scale and exercise. No less magnificent. No less expressive. No less musical.

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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