Read the Episode with Peter Boonshaft Part 1


Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast Episode – 77. In this episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast I get to speak to Dr. Peter Boonshaft.

Now, I’ve admired this man ever since I’ve seen him at the Maryborough Music Conference and got to listen to keynotes. I haven’t actually got to see him work with other educators because he’s off on the band strand and I’m off doing the classroom music strand. It’s very irritating how these rivers never meet.

And so I haven’t actually got to work with him before. But I had a conversation with him last July, and found that we had very much in common. And he also feels like me, that although we have different jobs within music education, we are all music educators. I absolutely loved this podcast chat. And I’m sure you will too. Sit back and enjoy part one.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 076 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.

Introducing Dr. Peter Boonshaft

Hello, everybody, I am just so excited to be joined today by Dr. Peter Boonshaft. It’s so exciting from the other side of the world, Hello, Peter.

Peter Boonshaft
Hello, Debbie. It’s such a pleasure to be here with you. Thank you so much for having me.

Just the short chats we’ve had. I am so excited to dig into some of the things we’ve been talking about.

Peter Boonshaft
I agree, me as well.

Peter Boonshaft’s Biography

Alright, let’s start off with your biography. For those people who don’t know a lot about your background and what you’ve done. Many of us have seen you, met you and spoken to you and been inspired by you at the Maryborough Music Conference. Let’s start with your bio. Called one of the most exciting and exhilarating voices in music education today, Peter Loel Boonshoft has been invited to speak and conduct in every state in the nation and around the world. Honoured 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 is Director of Education for Jupiter Band Instruments. He is the author of the critically acclaimed best selling books Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose and Teaching Music with Promise, great titles Peter. He is co author of Alfred Music’s method book series, sorry sound innovations. As well his weekly “Boonshaft’s Blog” for music educators continues to inspire teachers everywhere.

He has received official proclamations from the Governors of five states and a Certificate of Appreciation from former President Ronald Reagan, as well as performing for former President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush, sorry, they don’t roll off my tongue easily, Peter, sorry. You can tell I’m Australian. Former President Bill Clinton and for Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Well, they’re big names.

His honours also include being selected three times as a National Endowment for the Arts “Artist in Residence”, three times awarded Honorary Life membership in the Tri-M Music Honor Society, receiving the AI G. Wright Award of Distinction from the Women Band Directors International and being selected for the Center for Scholarly Research and Academic Excellence at Hofstra. Is it pronounced Hofstra, I’m sorry. I’m playing the Australian card with my level of ignorance.

Peter Boonshaft
That’s perfect, you did beautifully.

At Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, where he is Professor Emeritus of Music. There’s just so much in there and I must apologise to my audience. This is my very early Saturday morning voice. First day of school holidays is actually the day of recording. So I apologise for my huskiness. So I’ll just get that out there now.

But now back to Peter. Oh, goodness, you have done so much and they’re big accolades. And you know, you have obviously been honoured by your colleagues, but also people beyond that. So listening to all of that. What would you like to say about that bio? Anything you’d like to add? That’s not there.

Peter Boonshaft
Well, first, you’re very kind for reading that and it’s kind of like going to one’s own funeral and hearing a eulogy. I apologise for that. And for it being a US biography, but you know, I listened to it and I basically would say that I’m just about the luckiest human being alive, is what it comes down to. I have been very lucky, I’ve had many, many wonderful friends who have helped guide me and steer me and given me opportunities. And that is most important.

Then I would say that, you know, none of that really holds a candle to the fact that each of us gets to spend time teaching young people music. And that really is the greatest of honours, those other things that you read are wonderful. And I do have wonderful memories of each of them. But having the chance to just spend time with teachers and with students, and help make music and hopefully bring about changes for people and then give them vistas and visions of what a future could be for them through music. And that’s really the greatest of awards.

The Power of a Musical Legacy

Yes. And I guess that being in a position that you’re in your ripples can be sent much wider, can’t they?

Peter Boonshaft
That would be the hope. I’ve had many occasions where I’ve visited a school and I’ve heard students talk about a story. And I think to myself, wait a minute that didn’t come from their band director that came from me, because their band director was a student, or now I’m old enough that it’s students, of students of students. So it is wonderful. It’s like being a great grandfather and a grandfather in many ways. And hopefully, we’ll be able to help students in their musical endeavours that I’ll never get to meet, that way

That effect and that positive influence will just continue. It’s the ultimate legacy really, isn’t it?

Peter Boonshaft
That’s the hope. And I believe that’s the truth for every teacher, that is what we do. We pass civilisation along from one generation to the next. And in many ways, we’re farmers, you know, we plant trees that we’re never going to see grow into fruition and that’s really the beauty. It’s also somewhat of a frustration, because, you know, we all want to see that.

But we by and large, don’t get to know when a child comes home from school one day and says I want to be in choir, and a parent says why? Well, because I love music. And that that love was passed along by a music teacher, no one knows where that’s going to be and how many generations that child will affect through their love of music that’s been started by a music teacher.

Peter Boonshaft on Dealing with Frustrations as a Music Teacher

Yes. And I actually believe that that’s what we have to hold on to. Because as somebody who’s in the trenches full time, that’s what I do work with kids every day. It is I don’t want to sound negative but it’s a job that can really get you down/ There are increasing, well, I’m finding there’s increasing behaviour management issues, there’s increasing systemic pressures, there are so many things that can get you down in our job.

My job is a little bit like a sausage factory. Every half hour, I get another group of children with another little set of issues with another set of parents attached to them with another set of altercations they’ve just had in the playground. It’s an exhausting, confusing job that you never feel you do well enough, no matter how hard you try. So I think part of the key to this job is never forgetting the incredible influence that you have.

Peter Boonshaft
I think that is absolutely, no words could be truer, what you just spoke of the frustrations that every teacher has. And we all have them in different ways. And if I ever meet a teacher who doesn’t find frustrations, I’m not sure.

They’re lying.

Peter Boonshaft
They probably are. We all find them, now they’re going to be different from place to place and country to country and level to level and discipline to discipline. But every teacher has to have frustration. It’s just part of it. The question is, number one, what we do with the frustration, what we let it do to us, and more importantly, what we don’t let it do and that’s derail us from our mission, getting frustrated is going to happen. It’s a question of whether we let it unglue us from what’s going on. And more importantly, take us away, take our energy away.

My worry is that it zaps us of the strength, the energy, the excitement, the passion for teaching music. That’s the trick is to not let it do that is to deal with the frustrations put them to rest as best we can and never lose sight of what we’re doing and what the ultimate goal is. And to find the joy I think it’s for driving from here to there, knowing that’s the goal is a wonderful thing.

But if we’re just driving there, even with that goal in mind, it can be debilitating. But if we take the time to look at the trees and look at the grass and look at the flowers and look at the people and the architecture, whatever it is from here to there, it’s a very different journey.

And I find personally and I think for other teachers I’ve known it helps with the frustration, the burnout if you will, if we do take the time to remember those little tiny moments, that that one child who sat in the corner and smiled at the end of singing the song, or that child who grinned from ear to ear because they finally played a passage that they’ve been struggling with, or just taking in the fact that these students are being exposed to beauty, and that without us, that wouldn’t happen.

That’s great. My next question was going to be, what advice would you give people that are feeling the weight of the job? So what you’ve just said, basically, is be present and feel the joy in the moments.

Peter Boonshaft
In the moment, absolutely. Benjamin Disraeli said a quote about most of us, regretting yesterday and fearing tomorrow. And I’ve always added to his words, that when we do that, it makes us not enjoy the moment we’re in right now. And I think, teachers, that’s where we live.

Yes, we have to take the past and that’s data, it’s information. It’s what we need to know, our students can do this. This is where they’re going. And obviously, we have to dream and plan and have vision for the future. That’s part of our job.

But we have to remember the second we’re in, you know, those days where we think, Boy, this just isn’t going the way I want it to. We have to step back from it for a moment and watch little tiny things that might not be our ultimate goal for that lesson or that class or that day. But those little victories, those little moments where something happens that we say, Okay, this is what matters, and we have to add them up.

And I’ve always said, it’s like a pearl necklace. You know, one pearl on a necklace is lovely and as we string more and more on it gets ever more lovely. And I think that’s what it is. And even if the pearls are are tiny as they could be it still gives us that ability to to see it as a whole.

Finding Joy in the Little Things as a Music Teacher

Yes, that is amazing advice. I love that. I also think if I can add to that we need to do that musically. And I agree that when that little penny drops on that you can see it happening. And you go yes, and you take joy. It’s also the non musical things, isn’t it?

Peter Boonshaft
Oh, absolutely. Like, oh, my goodness,

A prep child just this week, looked at me. And they were just so jumpy. So our prep for us is, they’re four and five year olds, the first year at school, formal school. So they’re particularly bubbly. They’re just excited. You can see it physically, they’re waiting to come into the room and they remind me of my puppy, right? You know, they can hardly control themselves. If they had a tail it would be wagging, okay?

And they were grinning, and I sang hello to them. I usually sing before we even walk in the room. And this little boy looks at me, I don’t remember if he sang it, or, or just said it. They called me, so my surname is O’Shea, so I’m Mrs. O’Shea. And I always sing, Oh, heavens, my singing voice isn’t going to work. Yep. But I sing Preps Good day, or whoever they are, Prep. So they sing back Good day, Mrs. O’Shea.

So it rhymes. And I also don’t have to worry about when it turns 12 o’clock. I don’t have to worry about morning and afternoon, it’s good to go all day. Yeah. And this little boy called me Mrs. O’Biscuit. Okay, now biscuits or cookies, by the way, right? Absolutely. Yes, Mr’s O’Biscuit. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Okay, and the kids around him.

And I thought, Okay, it just made my day that this little boy was comfortable enough to call me Mrs O’Biscuit. But if you don’t take the joy out of those little things, boy, this, the job would really get to you.

Peter Boonshaft
Well you know, we’re not teaching music, we’re teaching people. And I think that’s what we can never lose sight of. And so those victories, if you will, those moments, those peak times for us aren’t just about the music. It could be the way a student learns, or it could be their social interactions.

It could be their speech patterns, it could be their behaviour, it could be any number of things, where we see growth in a person who is young and starting to work their way towards adulthood and we’re helping that along and to take stock and to enjoy all of those things, like you said, of every aspect, not just whether they can play or sing well, it’s every aspect of them as a person.

Peter Boonshaft’s Views on Reducing Divisions in Music Teacher Groups

Yes. And that actually brings us to a brief discussion I had with you in the Maryborough Conference this year, in July when we aligned with our belief that we are all music educators, we’re all teaching the child as you just said, we all have great power and influence over shaping these, well no not shaping, contributing to the growth of these young people.

Whether you are the instrumental teacher, you come in and you teach the brass instruments and you walk out, whether you’re the classroom teacher, like me, that teaches all of the kids in the primary school or the high school teacher that just teaches the ones that elect, whether you’re the university lecturer in music education, or instrumental pedagogy, or we are all music educators, and the compartmentalisation of our roles really frustrate me, really frustrate me.

It’s more than compartments, it’s actually silos sometimes. I live over here, what I do is not relevant to what you do over there, you’re not one of us, it goes, it also goes, and I will stop talking in a minute because I need to hear what you say. But it also goes to our philosophical beliefs like I am so much I’m a Kodály based teacher, I just believe it makes sense to me to hear, feel, see, then write, then create, it’s a logical progression for learning anything to use your voice as your first instrument, because that’s from birth.

So anyway, it makes sense to me and I have a sequence of concepts. But I think I’m separate to the Orff teacher, there’s quite a few barred instruments, strangely, I use barred instruments in my class, like the silos, the sections, the competition the way some, I think we need to knock down some of those barriers. So I’m going to hand over to you to have a little chat on that topic about which I feel quite passionate.

Peter Boonshaft
Well, I couldn’t agree with you more. When we spoke this past July at the wonderful Maryborough Music Conference, I felt a kindred spirit because this is something that I have believed for a long, long time. And it’s a real soapbox thing for me, and I’ll talk about it to anyone who will listen, I’ve always been baffled. And I could go on for hours. I mean, I could bore your listeners to the point of distress with this. But I’ve always been baffled.

Why these franchises, these divisions, these silos as you put them, exist in our profession. And early on, I can remember it in some of my earliest years as a teacher being absolutely shocked about this because though my goal in life had always been to be a band director and I unabashedly say that, I also am Kodály trained, proud graduate of the Kodály Musical Training Institute and adore Kodály obviously, and one of the first things I did when I was working with high school students was to adapt it to be used with my band rehearsals.

So we would start every morning with them playing warmup exercises, if you will, and tuning exercises from my hands. And we would do exercises from the Bicinia and the Trinicia and things like that. Folk songs and canons, that the band played from my hand signs or from solfa notation that happened to be on the board. And I remember people thinking this was just the most bizarre thing on earth. But to me, as you just said so well, it made sense.

Why would it be wonderful for children singing, but it wouldn’t be wonderful for children playing instruments, it seemed like Why would we not do this? And I had many people question me on this and say this, it’s just bizarre, you’re mixing two things that shouldn’t be mixed. I thought, No, I’m mixing music with music, how can that be bad. And I’ve always thought that this is such an important thing. When working on Sound Innovations, the method books that you so kindly mentioned, for Alfred Music, one of the things that I was really passionate about is that we’d have lots of rounds and canons because as Kodály helped us understand so well.

It’s just such a natural and wonderful and expressive way for children to start to make incredible music early on in their in their technical abilities. So I’ve always wondered about this in fact when I was student teaching way back way back when, I wanted to student teach for choir and band, because I wanted to be a choir director as well as a band director.

And I remember being told you can’t do that. And I thought, why can’t I have experience doing both? I’ve done both. I studied both. And they said No, you have to pick one. And I remember finding such frustration. I remember long walks where I would think to myself, Why do I have to pick one of these. And ultimately, I did pick being a band director and immediately went to the choir director, this wonderful, wonderful woman.

And I said, this is my frustration. She said, Fine. How many free periods do you have? And I told her and she said, great, you’re going to be in here with the choir. She let me do quite a lot with the choir. And I’m really quite grateful to her for her willingness to do that kind of under the table, if you will.

I don’t understand truthfully, I never have why we divide up like this. I guess in my heart of hearts, I would say it’s because of the technical aspects of our teaching. That if we’re talking about lesson plans, or we’re talking about material or we’re talking about specific techniques, I guess it makes sense for high school choir people to be in one room and general music classroom people to be in one room and elementary band.

But I think far more importantly are the things that we share and the things that we can do to help one another. So when I’ve gone out and done professional development sessions for schools, or school districts, or counties, or whatever it happens to be, I always start by saying that what I’m about to do, and I have a room full of all the teachers and I often have all the teachers for most, if not all the time, and I’ll say that what I’m endeavouring to do is impossible.

And that is to be useful, helpful to every one of you in this room, because each of us and this will be the same thing with your listeners while you’re on this podcast. We all have different levels of experience. Some of us have taught forty years, some of us it’s our first year, some of us have spent our lives devoted to teaching the youngest of children in a classroom setting, some have spent their life working with let’s say, high school string, some of us play clarinet, some of us are singers, some of us play piano, whatever it happens to be, some of us were good in theory, some were not so good in theory, some are great at ear training, some we’re not so great in ear training. But what I find is we all have strengths and weaknesses. That’s just human nature.

But I always say, and I end this this diatribe with them by saying, your job as a listener is to not tune it out, because it doesn’t apply to you. Or in this case, with your words of wisdom, I would say your silo. And your task is rather to extrapolate what I’m saying to be useful in any situation. So if we’re talking about doing something that would make sense and be immediately applicable to, let’s say, classroom music teacher for elementary school students, that the high school band director needs to extrapolate.

Okay, what is the essence of that? And how could it be useful for me teaching high school winds, brass or percussion, and every teacher, I think that’s what we do. When we read an article that’s based on string pedagogy, we need to extrapolate okay, I’m not tuning it out, because it says string, I’m going to take the essence of this and figure out how I can be a better teacher, how I can help my students with maybe this. So that’s the one angle that I wish we did.

Reducing Divisions By Learning More From One Another

I think the second angle is that I wish we understood all the aspects of teaching music better. Now, granted, we’ve all had some training, some experience doing these some more than others. But I think if we understood what each of us did better, we could not only have an appreciation for it, that’s only scratching the surface, the big issue is we could support each other’s efforts for those students.

And I think that when the high school choir director understands and has a real grounding in what the elementary classroom teachers are doing, we can then take that and pull it to the high school, when we know what classroom people are doing for general music, as a high school band director, I can use some of that I can I can say what what is the essence of the theory that they’re using to teach this.

So I can apply it to teaching my clarinets at the high school level. And then the third aspect is for a third part of this, in my mind is we need to work together for the betterment of the students, and the school and the town, more than we do. All too often, I have honestly walked into a high school band situation and I’ve mentioned something about classroom music, and they’d say, Oh, I don’t really know those people, you know, we get together once a year, maybe for a faculty meeting, or once every couple of months for a faculty meeting, but we don’t really work together.

Or even where I’ll say something about, you know, talking to an elementary string teacher and talking about the middle school and high school program. And they’ll say, Well, that’s not really what I do, this is what I do. And my feeling is none of us do it on an island. We’re all teaching the continent, if you will, of music. And we need to keep that in our mind, that that’s ultimately the goal. So how can we each serve the mission of teaching people and music to the entire population.

And I swear to you, there’s not a day that goes by as a band director that I don’t think about and I mean, really think about something that I learned as a student of Kodaly and think that’s how I have to change the way I’m doing this, or as a band director, things that I say, you know, what, when I learned this as a choir student, this makes much more sense to me I’m going to teach it this way. I’ve always said, and I mean it fervently we can extrapolate that to all of not just music, all of education, quite truthfully one of the greatest teachers I have ever had in my life.

And Debbie, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had a lot of great teachers, but one of the greatest teachers I ever had in my life was for a graduate statistics math class. Now, I’m not a mathematician and if you asked my secondary school math teachers, they probably giggle at the fact that I took this class, it was a requirement. I had to take it. So I did. And I was very worried. I walked into this classroom with with 30 odd number of doctoral students all having to take this class, none of them math majors and I was scared to death.

And this wonderful woman walked into the classroom. didn’t say a word, didn’t even say hello. She just started flipping a coin and she flipped the coin and go heads, flip it again heads, flip it again. And she did this for what seemed like an hour, it was probably three, four or five minutes. And after maybe the 20/25th time, she stopped. She held the coin like this. And she said, I’m about to flip it again, how many of you want to bet it’s still going to be heads? About half of us put our hand up. And she said, Why? Because you think it’s been heads 26 times or whatever it was, it’ll do it again.

And then she had the other half put up their hands and say, Why don’t you think it’s going to be heads? And everybody said, because it’s happened 26 times. So it’s got to be the chances are, it’s going to be the opposite. And she looked us in the eye, she held the quarter up in the air, and she said, but what you don’t remember is this, the quarter doesn’t know what it’s done for the last 26 times, she flipped the coin, went like this and she never told us how it landed.

And she went on talking about this, I’m telling you, it was some of the best teaching I’ve ever seen. First of all, we loved the class, we loved her, we loved the subject matter and none of us even understood the subject. But we couldn’t wait to come to her class, because every day was a game or a story or something that just made us think, and I can’t tell you the number of times I think what would Dr. W do if she were in my band rehearsal? What would she do to make them feel the way I did when I was a student of hers?

And I think that’s what we need to do is we have to take those beautiful aspects of every teacher we’ve ever had, every discipline we’ve ever had the great Federico Fellini, the cinematographer. To paraphrase something he said, I’ve always loved the sentiment, that the reason to study any subject is to have a different lens to view our world through. And I think it’s a glorious sentiment. The reason we need to study literature is to have that lens to view our world, and art and poetry and math and music and science and physical education and every aspect of education. Because we give them a different lens.

Well, for us, I find in music education, all too often, we reduce that lens down to secondary strings, or primary classroom, or high school choir. And that lens becomes for me too small. And I think we will serve music, serve our students, serve humanity better, the more we can break down those barriers work together and say, Okay, I want the four of us to do something together, what can we do, and maybe then we’re going to include the phys ed department, and the art department and the history department.

Let’s add even more aspects to this. So we can work together as a group of educators, teaching this whole thing, and whatever that thing is for each of our students. And so I could go on for hours. But the gist of it are those three areas, I really think but I do believe and I get it, we’re all so swamped.

We’re all trying to teach in one hour, what needs to be taught and five. And in one day, what needs to be taught in a month. I know all of us have that. And by the time we get done with our days of doing this, it can be debilitating and you’re just plain exhausted. So to add more and say okay, now I have to coordinate things with this teacher and with this area. It’s daunting, but I think the more we can do that, the better we’re going to be as teachers.

Yes, that’s amazing. I look, I couldn’t help myself, I had to take notes. Now. I’m thinking, Debbie you can listen to this again later. So anybody who’s listening in their car, or at the gym, or whatever, it’s okay, you can listen to this again, because you will want to take notes, but those three was so powerfully put, and oh boy I couldn’t I kept wanting to shout Hallelujah and Amen.

But you know, I’m going to just going to be devil’s advocate for one second. You know, I agree 150,000%. I think I want to just put in a little thought bubble in there. And that is, boy, it’s exactly how I operate and the way I want to see things move. But I think there’s a little underlying piece that we do have to know our own craft well. I know, you’re not implying that you don’t.

Peter Boonshaft

For the new teachers out there. Oh, good. We’ll just do this, this, this. No, no, you actually have to know.,

Peter Boonshaft
Oh no, I’m presupposing that exact thing. I’m not in any way trying to advocate that we become a jack of all trades master. I don’t think any of this can actually take hold and I don’t really think any of this would be useful for someone who hasn’t gone a long way in working on their own craft. Because I don’t think one could look at let’s say, a high school string teacher and say, How can I adapt some of what that is to teaching classroom music?

I don’t think that’s possible if we don’t really already understand how to teach classroom is. So I agree 100%. And I believe that is true. And and obviously that’s why those silos I think come about is because we do want to get incredibly good. We always want to get better and better and better. We want to share as much as we can.

And we want to beg, borrow and steal from our colleagues as much as we can in that area, though, what I’m saying is not to replace those silos, it’s to let them down occasionally so that we can bring in the broader picture.

Yes, I knew that was what you meant. I just wanted to bring that because I am thinking like, I’m honoured to be able to work that way with several colleagues that are open, the big term we use here, intentional collaboration. So we’re working together and I work with my friend and colleague, Deb Brydon. She knows that I love her.

And she’s a fellow classroom teacher, and we do a whole lot of stuff and try to bring more people together, we’ve got a little, it’s not so little, an annual event now called Together Sing where people sign on to sing a specially composed song, all to do with singing together for well being. Its inaugural year, last year, we had 150,000 singers sign up.

So we’re in our second year, the whole thing is based on partnerships, and we’ve got ASME Australia and the Orff people and the Kodály people and everyone signs on because it’s a free thing. Anyone can sign up. And it’s one of our little ways of helping to break down barriers because don’t we all want music? I think that working together when you’re secure, basically secure in the way you’re doing your job, I will never know everything I want to know.

Peter Boonshaft
None of us ever will. But when we when we feel comfortable enough to do that I think is when it is.

Yes, exactly.

Peter Boonshaft
I think anytime we can collaborate with anyone I remember once doing, I was working with high school students it was it was my own playing group. I was doing a concert of Bach and Handel. It was one of their anniversary years. And so I told a colleague of mine that I was going to bring in a musicologist from a local university who was actually the Head of Music History.

And he was kind of a bit surly, he could be ill tempered at times. He was a little grumpy. But he was brilliant. And everyone thought I was absolutely mad for bringing him in and sicking him on a bunch of high school students. I taught these kids the music the best I could, I brought him in and I’m telling you, it was one of the most wonderful couple of hours I’ve ever had as a musician and as a teacher. What he was able to bring that I could never have done. Never in a million years, I remember once having an art person come and speak to my students.

And because the pieces we were doing were based on pieces of art, what that person was able to do to bring this to life, to make the music makes sense to them based on art that I didn’t understand. I mean, I thought it was beautiful. But I couldn’t talk about, this is the reason that the woodwinds have to shimmer here is because look at what’s in the background of this painting. And this is why the bottom is dank and dark and subdued. Because what you’re trying to represent is that hue that’s in the foreground of this picture.

I just sat there with my eyes wide open thinking, number one, why couldn’t I know that? And should I have known that before I ever entertained teaching the piece? And then I kind of beat myself up over it. I said, No, I said, this is a person who spent their entire life learning art that I don’t have that background. But the beauty was I brought him in and I learned as much as they did. I remember once with a group of conducting students bringing someone in to teach renaissance and medieval dance. Because I thought, you know, if we don’t know how to dance a minuet or a gigue or a sarabande, how on earth can we conduct it well, and I had this batch of graduate conducting students dancing around this big recital hall learning all these dances, and I was with them.

Now I was the weakest of all of them, I struggled to put one foot in front of the other. But I’m telling you, by the end of that session, we all had a better understanding, because we looked outside of our music education and our music blinders. And we looked at it through the lens of in this case, Medieval and Renaissance dance.

So I think anytime we get the chance to do that, even if it’s bringing in another colleague who does exactly what we do, just to get a different slant and let the students see a different approach to doing it. Because I know I’m sure all of your listeners have had occasion to do this, where I brought in someone to work with a group and they’ll say something I see my students go, oh, that’s brilliant. And I want to get up on the podium and say, Wait a minute. I said the same thing a week ago, but it was a different person, a different voice.

And when he or she said it, it made sense to them. When I said it, it didn’t hold and that doesn’t matter, what matters is it eventually held and by having those as people come through and different opportunities for students, I think it’s a wonderful thing.

Yes, I think everyone is thinking, Oh, yes, I’ve experienced that.

Peter Boonshaft
We all do.

I’ve been teaching you this for three years. Why has this one person? And you go, Am I that bad teacher?

Peter Boonshaft
No, it’s the way she or he said it resonated with the students that day. I’m convinced of it. But you’re right, it happens to all of us.

It sure does. It hasn’t happened for a while, thank goodness. But you know like the little girl that starts learning flute, and you’re doing something with one of your classroom songs and we’re singing from the staff and they go, that’s an A. I went Yes. I know A I I learned that in flute, which she’s been learning for two minutes, or whatever, you know. But it’s the way it was taught, the pennies dropping at different times, connecting. Yeah. Ah, that’s amazing. You put that so well, and I know everyone’s so resonating with what you said.


Thank you for joining me for this podcast. Don’t forget that you’ll find the show notes on Also, you can find the transcripts there. So you’ve got all of the detail that you need. If you found this podcast useful. I’d really love it if you share the link with a colleague. Remember all I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. We’ll meet again. I hope we will. Bye.

Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieve stress, don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

Did you hear about the golfer who bought an extra pair of pants just in case he got a hole in one?

It’s such an oldie. I know.

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Books by Peter Boonshaft

Where to find me:

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