Music Education: Remember the 94%

As music education instructors, we get distracted by events or situations that really only take the smallest amount of time. Remember the 94 percent.

I am a blessed man. Through my experience in music education, as a teacher and clinician, relationships with great people were built. Few of those are as special to me than those built at a school outside of Augusta, GA. A suburb call Evans.

My connection to Evans High School was easy to see when I first stepped through the door in 2004. My friend, Geoff Rosche, was their assistant director. G and I first met in 1997, on the bus to President Clinton’s Inauguration. His family just moved to town and he was immediately put on the bus to Washington, DC. Because of him, I met Ms. Reid Hall. Few in this business are better than her.

It is fitting that the picture for this article is from my first day of teaching marching fundamentals with Evans. Those teens worked hard and learned the importance of “Eat Meat.” (That is an inside joke. You are welcome.)

The influence of Reid still fills me today. One of the greatest concepts I learned – and still apply in everyday life now – was a note above her office door as you exit. It simply read…

Remember the 94%

That is it. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet, it is extremely powerful.

As a teacher, have you ever found yourself working on one section of music with the same players for what feels like an eternity? Or, even feel like you keep pointing out the marching issues of one student constantly? How about asking the same ones to stop talking every day? Remember the 94 percent.

Remember that 94 percent of the students are getting it. The ones that are working hard. Those that are prepared, focused, and meeting expectations. We often see the problems or struggles, and fail to see the good. Yes, work on the points of struggle, but do not allow that to drain the time of all involved. Taking time to appreciate the successes, motivate students, and acknowledge positive items.

Have you spent time at dinner with friends or family stressed out about the marching band contest next weekend? Or about the concert on Thursday night? What about getting an adjudication tape and just wonder what the judge was listening to? Remember the 94 percent.

Take time to remember the people you are around. Remember the process that leads to that moment. Appreciate the people, their time, and efforts it took to pull of the performance. The students improved. They learned, and performed. It is the process that takes 94% of your time, the performance only six.

This concept is simple, but powerful. And life changing. At the end of the day, the bad events, the frustration, annoying moments of paperwork or email responses, those take up about 6% of our time, yet 75% of our focus. By minimizing the focus on the events that take the least time, our minds and attitudes change significantly.

Reid Hall taught that way. Her students loved her for it, and they performed at high levels. It is what music education is truly about.

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