TME Podcast Season 4, Ep. 18: Encouraging Passion In Your Music Ensemble

Description: Encouraging passion in your music ensemble is an important element when trying to develop the ideal musical culture. Exercising the creative juices is not just something to be practiced by band, choir or orchestras. It is to be embraced by all performers in every form. Today we will identify some key elements and suggestions you can use with your students to encourage passion in their musical craft.

Today’s post is a summary and reflection on Dr. Shelley Jagow’s book “Developing the Complete Band Program, chapter 16 - Suggestions for Encouraging the Heart.” Dr. Jagow’s biography and a plethora of instrumental resources can be found at I highly encourage you to check out her website and her professional resources available to music educators and students of music.

Essential Elements

In Dr. Jagow’s book she recognizes 7 essentials for encouraging students to be passionate and heartfelt about their beloved craft. These elements include:

Essential #1 - Set Clear Standards

Make SMART goals more than just a yearly check mark on your evaluations. Dr. Jagow defines SMART goals as S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Attainable, R = Results-oriented, and T= Timely bounded goals. This representation of SMART goals is a great template for achieving results. In contrast to the author’s view I commonly use the SMART goal version where the R is replaced by “Realistic” rather than “Results-oriented.” Some may argue this version however, it works well in my teaching. One reason using SMART goals to encourage passion with your students is they get to personally get to experience problem solving and the success associated with it.

Essential #2: Expect The Best

It would be a falsehood if we were to claim all rehearsals were perfect. There are times when you may, as a music educator, have wanted a rehearsal to go in a different direction. Get into the stress relieving practice of meditation and the practices that are associated with it. You may find you are a happier person.

Essential #3 - Pay Attention

Find ways to self-assess the way you communicate. This can be done by watching a video recording of yourself teaching. Analyzing whether your facial expressions and/or gestures acknowledge student progress.

Essential #4 - Personalize Student Recognition

Dr. Jagow refers to all types of strategies; however, she also recommends writing a thank-you letter to deserving parents, staff members and administrators. The person of focus will appreciate the letter and the students will recognize the positive interaction he or she has with you and your program.

Essential #5 - Tell The Story

If there is a story that particularly interests you, write it down and keep it in a journal. Take special note of the lessons of the story and share them at a later time.

Essential #6 - Celebrate

Consider creating a celebration board for your rehearsal room. This can be similar to your recognition board that we discussed earlier. Fill it with positive comments, names and photos.

Essential #7 - Set The Example

Finally, be sure to thank all stakeholders. This includes your students, families, school staff, community and yourself. Remember you're an artist and educator. This is a profession that requires the buy-in by your soul, mind and body. If this is the life you want then live it up!



Jagow, S. (2020). Teaching instrumental music: Developing the complete band program. Meredith Music Publications.