Honor Band & Orchestra Concert Reflections Part III: More is Caught than Taught

Last night was my district’s Honor Band and Orchestra concert. In other posts, I have written about the audition process, music advocacy, and celebrating excellence.

On a personal note, one of the ensembles made the debut performance of my newest orchestra composition. One other music teacher also had a new piece premiered. While I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, I was reminded of the impression these compositions might make on the students. Among those student musicians are likely to be some future aspiring composers. I remember when I was in school I was always impressed with my teachers who also performed regularly around the community. It meant something to me that one of my teachers recorded an album or performed with well-known artists.

A pastor at my church once offered an axiom to parents: “More is caught than taught.” Children learn more from what they observe than from what they hear. This is true on a number of levels. A student will really learn what staccato means by hearing it demonstrated rather than just by reading a definition. Students will believe they can become excellent performers when they see their peers do so.

My point is that hopefully a few students will carry a memory with them that their teachers are also composers, and that composition might be something they might want to try for themselves. Let me offer a little encouragement to music teachers to teach by example, demonstrating that in addition to being a teacher, you are also a performer, a composer, a recording engineer, whatever.

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2 thoughts on “Honor Band & Orchestra Concert Reflections Part III: More is Caught than Taught

  1. “My point is that hopefully a few students will carry a memory with them that their teachers are also composers, and that composition might be something they might want to try for themselves. ”

    That sure does happen.

    Steven Barton (has a couple band pieces published) and I graduated from the same high school and college, although he is older than I am. I remember playing in a recording session with him once, and we had the “oh, we are both from the same hometown” conversation. He told me how much the band director there had influenced his life. It was years ago, and I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I think the gist of it was that he was unsure about music ed as a career, because he wanted to compose… until he realized that his band director was a teacher AND a composer. (Vincent Sanzotti http://www.composersforum.org/member_profile.cfm?oid=2896 )

    Imagine what seeds you may have planted last night. 🙂

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