Losing the Steins, Data, and Music Education

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A team of researchers at Stanford University recently studied the careers of America’s best and brightest innovators and inventors and concluded that children who come from the top 1% of household wealth are 10X more likely to file for and receive a patent than those coming from lower income households. The children from the lesser affluent areas showed equal aptitude and ability but consistently achieved at a lower level.

What were the difference makers between those who succeeded and those who didn’t? The answer: the access and opportunity that comes with affluence.

The study went on to conclude that, year after year, America loses thousands of potential Einsteins to poverty. These children are capable and willing, but lack the opportunities afforded to their more affluent counterparts.

Yes, we are losing Einsteins, but what about Bernsteins?

A 2013 data study of public school students involved in music education showed that while the disparities of wealth were not as prevalent, there were inequities and trends were worth noting, including:

  • Participation in music among 8th grade students has trended down from 55% in 2004 to 46% in 2013.
  • White students showed higher participation rates than their non-white counterparts. 
  • Females are much more likely to participate in the arts than males
  • Teens whose parents were more educated had a higher rate of participation than those whose parents were less educated. 
  • Students who plan on attending a university showed significantly higher participation rates than students who did not plan on attending college. 

The disparities only grow larger once students leave school. According to Data USA , among music professionals:

  • On average, men earn significantly more money than women. On average both earned below the adjusted federal poverty limit for a family of four, $35,785
  • Men make up 60% of the workforce with women making up 40%. 
  • 76% of the professional world is white, with the remaining 14% being other ethnicities. 
  • Most professionals have college degrees, with the greatest concentration being in music (40%), education (20%), and business (10%). 

I know that we as music educators work hard each and every day to cross the ethic and economic divides. I also know that music represents a great equalizer for many young people as it provides positive life experiences that can provide a pathway out of poverty. But, we can still do more. 


Regardless of our shortcomings, America’s music education system (music instruction contained within the school day) is the largest and most successful system in the world. The data shows that our singular and comprehensive approach exposes young people or all backgrounds to music in ways that places us at the top of the educational mountain top. We are able to achieve all of this because of YOU! YOU are the best of the best and the standard bearers for this incredible activity throughout the world.

But as we stand at the mountaintop, we all know that we have some room too grow in ensuring that ALL students, regardless of gender, race, and socio-economic status can make the climb with us. 

After all, what good is making it to the top if we left behind a generation of Bernsteins Or Einsteins.

Have a great week.

Transactional Memory & Making Me Whole

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Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985. 

Without getting too technical (or weird), a transactive memory is one that is encoded, stored, and retrieved collectively. 

Think of it as having a part of your personal memories based in the cloud. And by “cloud” I mean someone else’s mind, but you are still able to retrieve it.

Before you think that I've lost my mind (is it stored in yours?), you should know that there is some serious research and anecdotal evidence that this stuff could be real. For example, when you hear someone who has recently lost a spouse say, “I feel like I have lost a part of myself,” according to transitive memory, they have. When a spouse dies, so does a portion of their own memory stored within that spouse.

I know what you are thinking, “Scott (insert long condescending sigh), you’ve been reading WAY to much Deepak Choprah & Eckhart Tolle!

While transactive memory was initially studied in couples and families it was later extended to teams, groups wanting to develop and achieve a "group mindset.” Before you discount the possibility of this being real, consider the evidence. 


In a journaled published study, several groups were studied during the learning of a task and when the group members were trained together, the team developed a stronger transactive memory system, recalled more information, and made fewer errors compared to teams where individuals had gone through the same training but separately. As a result, groups that trained together performed better in the task. 


IF this is true and IF transactional memory does really exist, it would explain a lot about why music education matters. Think about it. The fact that we place seniors with freshman, all-state players with beginners, and veterans with rookies allows for a unique transfer of information that accelerates the learning process. This is more than just role modeling. This is validated assimilation of information at an accelerated rate based (in theory) on group interaction.

It’s no secret that teaching music is getting harder. It’s also widely understood that by and large, ensembles today are performing at higher levels than ever before. Could transactional memory be the reason for both of these things? 

Is it possible that this “group-think” is responsible for the large scale and incredible gains made in the activity the past 40 years? Is it conceivable that year after year, as current seniors elevate freshman, that four years later, these newly minuted “seniors” were better prepared to advance their freshman? Is transactional memory part of the reason that music education is in a perpetual and accelerated state of advancement not found in other curricula?

The answer is, I don’t know. 

But, what I do know is that music is different than other classes. That the memories made through music are deeper and the learning is more profound. That despite the notes and rhythms being unchanged year in and year out, that the experience is entirely unique to each ensemble and each year. That working with students for four hours is nothing like working with them for four years and I miss those deeper relationships and shared memories. 

I also distinctly remember that each and every May, as my graduating students departed, I felt as if a little part of me was leaving too.

So maybe there's something to this transactional memory stuff. I just wish you were here thinking with me so that we might think about it together and figure it out faster

Have a GREAT week.

Ban On the Run and My Amateur Thoughts

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Last month, Roger Bannister died at the age of 88. Unless you’re an avid runner or a sports history enthusiast, you might not recognize the name, but in 1954, Roger Bannister was known the world round as the as the first person to ever run a sub four minute mile. At the time, the four minute mile was considered the holy grail of athletic achievement and his time of 3:59.6 placed him in the Pantheon of athletic accomplishment along side Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, and Bobby Jones.

Keep in mind that this was 1954, and that Bannister achieved the feat without the benefit of finely crafted shoes or an indoor track. He did so without nutrition supplements or an advanced understanding of the importance of a proper diet and workout regimen. He did so without a personal trainer, speed coach, or membership to a track club. In fact, Bannister was a medical student at the time and only trained during his lunch hour. Even more incredulous is the fact that he broke the record after working a full morning shift on his feet at the hospital where he served as an intern. 


“However ordinary each of us may seem, we are all in some way special, and can do things that are extraordinary, perhaps until then…even thought impossible.” 

- Roger Bannister


In the truest sense of the word, Roger Bannister was an amateur athlete. That doesn't mean that he wasn't extraordinary, it simply means that he didn't focus SOLELY on his craft of running. He did not rise at dawn and spend the entirety of his days training. He did not compete against the best while traveling the world; he was too busy for that. He was a medical student, friend, sibling, and by all accounts, a perfectly affable and likable guy. But he was extraordinary in all of his ordinariness.

Somewhere over the past fifty years we have confused amateur with mediocre, and they are nothing alike. It is as true in sports as it is in education.

Recent (educational) trends have seen a strong and growing movement towards the development of pre-professional skills. We encourage kids as young as middle school to choose a “vocational path” and pursue college and career readiness. We encourage them to get academically focused with S.T.E.M., A.V.I.D., Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate. We tell our athletes to pick one sport and train exclusively on it in hopes of earning a scholarship. We do all of this, but to what avail?

The belief that equates singular with better is simply not true. Singular is not better, and amateur is not mediocre.

High school & middle school students are not (pre)professionals and should not be treated as such. They are not a career choice or professional pathway. They are children whose only job should be to learn, grow, and play. Yes, as a parent of a twelve year old, he is MANY things, but pre-professional is not one of them. He is an amateur student, an amateur athlete, and an amateur musician. HE IS AN AMATEUR. He is not meant to chose his life work yet. He’s not meant to chart the course of the next fifty years of his life. He can barely manage to remember to practice his trombone and put his clothes in the hamper (unless the kitchen floor counts).

He is meant to experiment and explore. He is meant to grow and learn. He is meant to succeed and fail, AND MUSIC PROVIDES HIM WITH ALL OF THESE EXPERIENCES!

He plays music not to be a musician, he plays music to be human. He plays music to be a child. He plays music to explore, to be a kid and to have FUN!

If there is ONE THING we learned from Roger Bannister it is that amateurs can not only do extra-ordinary things when given the opportunity, and that they can inspire others to do the same. Since that day in 1954, after opening the flood gates of human achievement, thousands of others have run four minute miles, including AMATEUR high school athletes.

Roger Bannister gave up running shortly after achieving that remarkable record to pursue a career in medicine. And even though he chose a non-athletic professional career, he will always be remembered as an amateur athlete.

Roger has stopped running now, but his lessons and legacy will live on through amateur forever.

Have a GREAT week!

John Philip SoUSA and our Patriotic March!

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This past Friday night I received a call from some close teacher friends in Oklahoma. They wanted to talk about the current situation in their state and the impending teacher walkout. The conversation lasted almost an hour. Although they asked for my opinions and input, I think that more than anything they wanted to know that they weren’t alone.

And alone they are not.

Tens of thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms on Monday in Oklahoma and Kentucky. This follows a similar action in West Virginia and an impending strike looming in my home state of Arizona. As parents and teachers across this country rally for better pay and more funding for their classrooms, one thing has become abundantly clear, as a people and a profession, we are FED UP and done waiting for change.


Although the issues surrounding public education are political, they aren't partisan. Both parties have had chances to rectify the problem and have failed to muster the political will, or courage, to make it happen. Teachers are therefore being forced to stand up for themselves and their students in a way they never imagined. 


To teach is to serve.

Like other professionals engaged in serving their communities, we as teachers should be afforded the requisite tools necessary to do our jobs at the highest levels and in the safest ways. This is a privilege we as citizens have and a burden we should gladly embrace. 

To teach is to have courage.

The issues at play here are complex and are as unique as they are personal. Each teacher and administrator has deeply held personal and professional convictions that guide their decision making processes. But whatever decision is reached, it took courage to get there. Courage to stand up and make voices heard and be held accountable for their beliefs.

Eventually, these teachers and students will return to class and I sincerely hope the events of the last few days will be the source of some rich learning opportunities. THIS is social studies. THIS is economics. THIS is language arts. THIS is music education. THIS IS A LIFE LESSON, especially when it comes to teaching music.

Teaching music is different!

Music teachers hold a special place in their school communities. Increased visibility and the special relationship they have with their students comes with a greater degree of scrutiny and accountability. Yes, in many places, music teachers are more than leaders of young people, they are leaders in their community as well. In times of crisis, leaders must take a stand and lead.

Needless to say, I am as proud as I have ever been to be a part of this profession.

So as our conversation came to a close, I told my dear friends that no matter what they decided, I loved and supported them and liked their chances for success.

After all, who better to lead a march than a conductor?

Have a great week!

Music Education and The (Im)Perfect Persian Rug

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According to Wikipedia, a Persian rug is a "heavy textile carpet made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes." Produced in Iran (historically known as Persia), this 16th century art form of carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and Iranian art. Within the group of countries that produces Oriental rugs, Persian carpets are singularly known for their elaborate colors and artistic design. They are treasured as collectibles in museums and private estates throughout the world today. 

Persian rugs are still woven today by nomadic tribes and by royal court members alike. As such, they represent different but simultaneous lines of tradition and history of Iran’s various people. Despite sometimes similar appearance, no two rugs are the same. They are as varied as they are specific. In fact, experts can tell exactly, just by looking at the colors, textiles, and crafting techniques, exactly where and by whom a rug was made. Yes, all rugs are different, but carry one singular commonality.

They are ALL flawed.


There is an old Persian proverb stating that to be a true Persian rug it must be: “Perfectly imperfect and precisely imprecise." 


The underlying premise of the proverb is that man is flawed and therefore so must be everything we create. Setting aside the religious nature of the proverb, it further states that there is beauty in the imperfection as it reminds us that we are all human and are as imperfect as we are original. In that way, we are all like the Persian rug: “Perfectly imperfect and precisely imprecise."

People go to extraordinary effort to seek out the imperfection of each rug and by doing so are forced to examine so closely that one cannot help but appreciate its perfection. If the rug were, in fact, perfect, we would be miss out on the opportunity to truly appreciate its beauty and uniqueness.

The same holds true for music. Frankly, few educators work as hard at finding imperfections. In rehearsals and performance, most of us obsess over mistakes while ignoring what beauty actually did occur. A passing grade is not an acceptable benchmark and a 90% effort is likely to be met with contempt and disdain. In this way, rug makers and music educators have a great deal in common.

But our commonalities don’t just end there. In rugs and in music, one must search for mistakes in order to find perfection.

As we dive into score study and rehearsal recordings looking meticulously and methodically for flaws, we see the genius of the composition. As we rehearse with our student musicians, we are forced to search harder and harder for mistakes, thus showing us their growth. Through all of this, we grow to better understand and appreciate not just the literature, but the young people performing it. To hear the work of Percy Grainger is as pleasing as seeing a fine Persian rug. But, to study and rehearse Grainger is know and appreciate his genius on a different level.

We are all imperfect. Our literature, students, our jobs, and our lives are filled with imperfection. In fact, I myself have perfected the art of imperfect. And, we tend to focus on the shortcomings of our lives rather than the abundances. But remember, in order to find the flaws in our professional and personal lives, we are also forced to to appreciate their beauty.

Because like the Middle Eastern woven works of art, we are all (Im)Perfectly Persian.

Have a great week!

The Numbers Game and Bottoms Up Thinking!

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The Numbers Game is to soccer what Moneyball was to baseball, a numbers driven analytical approach to building a better organization. And, it’s likely to change the way you think about the world’s number one sport and perhaps music education.

In The Numbers Game, Chris Anderson, a former professional goalkeeper turned soccer statistics guru, teams up with behavioral analyst David Sally to uncover the numbers that really matter when it comes to predicting a winner.

The authors Investigated basic, but profound, questions such as: How valuable are corner kicks? Which goal matters most? Is possession really nine-tenths of the law? How should a player’s value be judged? Whatever your answers are, their's might differ as this duo delivers a whole new way of thinking about the beautiful game.

As a part of their analysis, Anderson and Sally looked at the value of an individual star player in soccer and compared it to a star individual player's value in other sports. For instance, they pondered the question of whether the value of LeBron James to the Cavaliers was less or more than Lionel Messi’s value to FC Barcelona. 


What they found was as insightful as it was fascinating. According to the authors, basketball is a "top down" sport that places a greater premium on individual star players, whereas soccer is a "bottom up" sport that favors a better supporting cast in lieu of a singular star. In other words, a star player’s worth is relative depending on the sport the play. 


So naturally, or not so naturally, I shifted the comparison to musical terms. Would the authors see music education as a top down or bottom up activity? Would they see greater value in the star player or the depth of the section? Heck, forget about the authors, what do you think? 

  • Would you prefer to have a superstar or better second and third players?
  • Would you rather have better high woodwinds or low brass?
  • Would you prefer to have one or two great leaders or 10 decent ones?
  • How much of your “salary cap” would you invest in a single concert master?
  • What about teachers? Would you rather have a larger staff or a fantastic head director?

Now here is where it gets interesting…

  • Would your answer change if it were a chamber or jazz ensemble?
  • Would your answer change when dealing with a younger or older ensemble?
  • Would your answer change based on the literature you were performing?
  • Would your answer be different for a band, choir, or orchestra?
  • Would your answer be different for different age levels or times of year?

To be succinct, when it comes to music education, favor top down or bottom up approach AND, would the analytics support your conclusion?

In the coming days we are going to make a major announcement about this very theory. We’re still working on some details, but suffice it to say, we are excited and we think you be as well.

But in the mean time… Have a great week.

THE TIME IS UP FOR OUR TIME TO BE UPPED!

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Hey Scott,

America has yet to find a problem the public schools couldn’t solve. In fact, it seems the more unconventional and uncomfortable the topic, the more likely we are to task America’s educators with solving it.

In addition to the growing list of requirements needed to walk across the stage to receive a diploma, students and teachers are faced with everything from sex, drugs, drinking, and driving… But not drinking AND driving, which we are also supposed to teach! (Now do you see how important the Oxford comma is? But, we have no time to teach about the Oxford comma!)

TIME IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO MUSIC EDUCATION. Not funding, not “lazy kids,” not athletics, not bad administrators, not technology, IT'S TIME!

Listen, I'm not against using schools to address social and emotional learning. The detachment and objectiveness of an instructional leader provides for a unique learning environment that can be well suited for dealing with difficult discussions, provided that there is enough time to do so, which there isn't. 

The problem is that the list of objectives keeps getting longer, which in turn makes our school days shorter. While as a nation we continue to add academic and non-academic objectives to our curricula, we have failed to add the necessary resource to teach it,time! Time is what's missing in our schools and for our students.


To prove my point, I pulled all of the state graduation requirements for 1982 (the earliest I could find) and compared them to the requirements for 2007 (the most recent I could find). What I found was shocking. In that 25 year period (a single generation), the average state graduation requirements rose by 21%, which almost equates to an additional year of high school. 


This doesn’t even include or factor in extended requirements for special certification (IBA/AP/Regents) or additional requirements necessary to achieve college eligibility. When you add in these requirements you find that in some states (mine included), college bound high school students get zero electives during one or more of their high school years, or are forced to take summer school or online classes to maintain an elective. 

It seems that as a nation, we are long on expectation and short on time to achieve them. 

This condensing and consolidating of the high school experience has forced students to make choices between doing what they WANT to and doing what they NEED to. Choices between ENJOYING school and BEING SUCCESSFUL in school. Choices between having a G.P.A. or having an ELECTIVE. Choices between MUSIC and going to COLLEGE, which is where music prepares kids to go!

I am all for accountability. I am all for increased standards. But, when did we decide that teaching a student math had to preclude us from teaching them music? When did we decide that teaching a student physics meant we couldn’t teach them a musical phrase? When did we decide that in order to provide them instructional time, we couldn’t provide them instrumental time? By adding more requirements and not providing for longer or more days to achieve them, that's exactly what we did!

I said it before, and I will say it again, TIME is the greatest threat to music education, so as far as I'm concerned...

THE TIME IS UP FOR OUR TIME TO BE UPPED!

Have a great week!

p.s. In an effort to be transparent, and show one and all my atrocious excel spreadsheet skills, I am attaching the spreadsheet of graduation requirements to this email for your perusal. Feel free to add, update, fix, and return to me. Click here to download it.

Curling, Al Michaels, and My General Ignorance

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The first time I saw curling on television I immediately thought, "What are those idiots with brooms doing? And why don’t they use a Dyson or a Roomba like the rest of us?"

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s a draw in there somewhere, but I just can’t see it. For me, curling lacks the raw athleticism and action that I normally associate with, and seek out in, sports. Yes, if you ask me, curling is missing something. Actually, now that I think about it, it lacks… Well, everything! 

Can’t we all agree that it would be more entertaining if there was at least one body check in there? Can’t we agree that it could use some trash talking and an ejection or two? Can’t we agree it’s not a sport if it uses household cleaning products? Beyond that, as far as I can see, it lacks in drama and suspense that make our pulses race and break our hearts. I mean, as the “rock” makes its way across the “sheet” to the “house” (these are all real terms, I promise), can you imagine Al Michaels screaming, “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?”

Let’s just say that for me, if Al Michaels can’t get excited about it, neither can I!


And while I am not alone in my assessment, it should be noted that curling has a huge following across this country and the sport is growing at a rapid rate. In fact, America secured its first ever Olympic Gold in curling and rinks are popping up in places far and wide as curlers seek a place for their curliverse! 


True, I don’t get excited about curling, not because it doesn’t contain excitement, but because I’m not educated enough to know what to get excited about. After all, I get excited about other boring stuff like golf and baseball. Come on, who among us hasn’t drifted off on the couch during the seventh inning stretch or while watching Phil Mickelson walk the fairway?

I wonder if curlers look at my competitive events they way I look at theirs. I wonder if they see a drum corps, marching band, or show choir competition and wonder why those people are running around on a field and stage. I wonder if they struggle to make sense of throwing guns in the air and wearing bird feathers on our head. I wonder if they see an indoor Winter Guard International show and think, “At least we use an ice rink for an ice sport. They use a basketball court but don’t use basketballs?”

To be fair though, I wonder if orchestra people have similar thoughts.

To be real, parents, students, and administrators don’t always understand what we do. They don’t understand the subtle nuance of a piece of choreography or drill. They don’t understand the difference between four and eight part harmony. They don’t understand the difficulty of a drum lick or mallet solo and yet we still expect them to be excited about what we do. Their lack of excitement is based on a lack of understanding, and that’s not on them, that’s on me! After all, I am the educator and it is my job to teach! So teach I must and teach I will, so we can ALL share in the excitement.

Yes, I LOVE this activity. But to be fair, Al Michaels never screamed “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?” after the Blue Devils performed either.

Have a great week!

p.s. Thanks to everyone who submitted note to the students and staff of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Performing Arts Department. Today we were able to share over 3500 messages of love and support with those who were affected by this tragedy. Alex asked me to convey his sincere appreciation and gratitude for all of your kindness.

Opposites (un)Attract

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The theory that opposites attract has been a well accepted, but unfounded, myth for decades. The concept is fairly simple, we seek in others the traits and skills that we ourselves lack. 

The theory is based in the belief that extroverts & introverts, adventure seekers & couch surfers, and night owls & early risers are at their best when they find companions and partners with qualities that they themselves lack.

But apparently it just isn’t true.

In his new book, Great Myths of Relationships, relationship expert, Matthew Johnson, used a fact based approach to dispelling this long held myth. Johnson writes:


"Whether people really find opposites more attractive has been the subject of many scientific studies. Researchers have investigated what combination makes for better romantic partners – those who are similar, different, or opposite? Scientists call these three possibilities the homogamy hypothesis, the heterogamy hypothesis and the complementarity hypothesis, respectively. The clear winner when it comes to successful relationships? Homogamy.” 


Mr. Johnson’s research seems to imply that for long lasting relationships, we are better off looking for our doppelganger than our nemesis. But I’m not convinced his research applies to musicians or our ensembles.

Harmony, both personally and musically, are critical to the success of any ensemble. A great deal of time, effort, and care are required to take divergent tones and craft them into one singular blended sound. 

As a musical conductor, your responsibilities include balancing and blending divergent melodies, rhythms, tonalities, timbres, and voices. Similarly, as an educator, you are responsible to blend different ages, maturity levels, languages, temperaments, ethnicities, economics, and cultures. As a music educator, you do more than blend sounds, you blend lives. You are charged with creating harmonies on stage while maintaining them in your classroom. And that is as difficult as it is complex. 

Harmony, literally and figuratively, requires more than one voice, more than one sound, more than one person, and by extension, more than one opinion. By definition, it is impossible to have harmony without first having diversity. In this way, opposites DO attract and Mr. Johnson's hypothesis fails.

Yes, it would be easier if we taught just one type of student with one type of talent. Yes, it would be easier if all of our students had the same level of commitment and dedication. But, I think most musicians would agree that harmony, musical AND personal, is at it’s finest when it involves a wide assortment of sounds, pitches, and people. The greater the complexity, the deeper and richer the beauty.

So yes, Mr. Johnson, when it comes to relationships, homogamy may win out, but when it comes to music and the young people that create it, harmony trumps homogamy every time.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G… Next Time You’ll Remember Me!

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Pamela Pauls reads more than just about any other person in America. As the the editor of the prestigious New York Times Book Review, she consumes words the way most of us consume air. Pamela has merged her passion and profession into an all day (and sometimes night) consumption of all things printed, 

As one of America's foremost literary scholars, you would think she would have a highly developed sense of memory and recall, but she doesn't. In fact, she admits that she remembers very little of what she reads once she is done. 

“I almost always remember where I was as I was reading it, and the physical object of the book itself,” says Paul, who reads, it is fair to say, a lot of books. “I remember the edition; I remember the cover; I usually remember where I bought it, or who gave it to me. What I don’t remember—and it’s terrible—is everything else.”

And it turns out she’s not alone.

The “forgetting curve,” as it’s called, is steepest during the first 24 hours after you learn something. Exactly how much you forget, percentage-wise, varies. Unless you review the material, much of it slips down the drain after the first day, with more to follow in the days after. This leaves you with a fraction of what you originally took in.

Except when it comes to music.


Music and songs are different from books in that they aren't just the consumption of information, they’re part of the tapestry of life. They combine and attach themselves to experiences and become woven in with the events of our lives and once they are intertwined, they are virtually impossible to separate. 


Don’t believe me?

Just think of one of the first songs you learned decades ago: “A,B,C,D,E,F,G… Next time won’t you sing with me.” Try and say the previous sentence without singing it (and speaking the letters in rhythm counts as singing!)

I wonder if “reading” printed music is as forgettable as reading the printed word. I know that for me, I remember very little of what I played in high school and almost nothing from college. However, as a student and as a teacher, I remember with great clarity the “feeling I had” and the “place I was” when I played/conducted it. As someone who read scores as Ms. Pauls read books, I must admit that my “forgetting curve” when it comes to reading music is just as steep. 

I suspect that it is similar for the students in our ensembles.

What makes music different? It's the fact that the harmonies and melodies are intertwined with the moments and memories of our lives. In fact, once memories and music are combined, they are inseparable. Music allows us to recall our memories faster and with greater clarity. I could cite research studies about the frontal cortex and the temporal lobe, but for both our sanities can I ask you to take my word for it?

Just yesterday, after a workshop, I had the experience of rehearsing a band on two of my favorite pieces, Festive Overture and Children’s March. And while the surroundings and students were unfamiliar, the memories and feelings they evoked were immediate and endearing as if they occurred yesterday. 

We KNOW that the act of learning WITH music increases comprehension. So imagine what learning while MAKING music does for the young people in your classes. If nothing else, you know you will be remembered!

Have a great week!

p.s. I just wonder why reading ABOUT music doesn’t create long term retention the same as learning WITH music. That would have made music history much easier.

p.p.s. If you are at TMEA, you should check out my two sessions on Friday. I am packing some cool stuff to give away and I promise you won't disappointed! How do I know? I don't. But, since you are reading this text without music, it's likely you won't remember my promise anyway!