By Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft
Each day, as we look at the faces of those we teach, we can envision a few of our students deciding on a career in music. But, quite possibly, the most important part of our mission as teachers is to ensure that music holds a special place in the life of every child. In short, students will leave us not only with an understanding of music, but with a love, a passion, and a need for music in their lives.
The idea that young people appreciate music is good; that students can’t imagine lives without music is profound. That they enjoy music is good; that they truly understand the joys of making and experiencing great music is sublime. Though volumes could be written about this, I would like to focus on three steps to inspire a lifetime of music for all students.
Establish Emotional Excitement
First, we excite students with the emotional power of music, having them experience their feelings through music every day. Are those peak experiences part of each rehearsal and class? Do they look for those moments, cherishing them as nourishment for the soul? In that way, a life without music would be as unthinkable as a life without sunlight.
Help Students Fall in Love with Music
Second, could we consider that getting our students to love music may ultimately be more important than getting them to respect it? Maybe the goal of every young person having lifelong engagement with music may be better served by our helping students to fall in love with music before we teach them to revere it? Basically, that we guard against our students thinking of music as that “fragile vase locked in the china cupboard that is never used for fear it could break.”
Set Students Up for Success
Third, we make certain every child feels the virtue of success. Do they truly believe they are succeeding? By making the steps of their learning small enough, preparing new material well enough, reviewing that which is learned often enough, we can ensure they’re believing in themselves. In that way, each accomplishment —no matter how tiny—sets the stage for the next success. What better motivator is there than sensing progress, realizing growth, and being a part of excellence?
Each day, as we teach musical skills and understanding, let us reaffirm our mission to help students have a lifetime of music. Each day, as we set objectives for our classes and rehearsals, let us never lose sight of the higher goal of every student cherishing music as an essential part of themselves.
Being part of a musical ensemble teaches students true-life skills that extend far beyond their school years. Just as students are taught about posture as an individual, they need to learn what it means to be part of the team. These skills can begin to develop in their first year. Sound Innovations Ensemble Development for Young Concert Band may very well be the resource you have been looking for. Learn more on Sound Innovations at alfred.com/si.
Called one of the most exciting and exhilarating voices in music education today, Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft has been invited to speak or conduct in every state in the nation and around the world. He holds Bachelor of Music (Summa Cum Laude), Master of Music Education in Conducting, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. He has authored several critically-acclaimed best-selling books, and is co-author of the Sound Innovations series.