Beyond the Notes: Thoughts on Meaningful Music Making

Jon Bubbett • Bubbett's BookshelfJune 2024 • June 9, 2024

Occasionally, one of the “giants” of our profession is moved to share what they have learned from others. When this happens, those who are the recipients of this wisdom are left wondering how they ever survived without reading those valuable words!

This book is precisely one of those events. It isn’t simply a “good read”…  it is an invaluable experience!

The book is divided into eleven chapters, each easily consumed in a single sitting. Every chapter includes inspired quotes from Dr. Crider and many of history’s finest educators. It is a true testament to her journey of being a lifelong learner.

Chapter One – The Journey Begins

Dr. Crider shares her personal journey to becoming a music educator. The “Reflections of a First-Year Teacher” section contains several experiences and strategies to fill the gap between music education courses and reality!

Chapter Two – Score Study: Nemesis or Necessity?

“While many teachers study scores in order to develop a plan of action to teach notes and rhythms, only those…who study scores to discover the musical intent of the composer have the opportunity to truly take their ensembles beyond the notes.”

This chapter includes valuable observations by the finest conductors of our time and their thoughts and philosophies on score study. 

Chapter Three – The Rehearsal

The importance of rehearsal planning can never be understated. This chapter Includes insights on the importance of choosing quality literature and planning.

Chapter Four – Meaningful Music Making: The Value of Imagination

“In order to make meaningful music, we must first make the music meaningful.”

Incorporating Story Into Rehearsal

Creating Meaningful Imagery

Teaching Across the Curriculum

“A great teacher can ignite a spark, creating a bonfire of enthusiasm.”

“Musical intent must be integral from the beginning.”

Chapter Five – Elevating Performance: The Technical Level:

Playing in Tone

Playing in Tune

Playing in Time

The How of Practice

The Why of Practice

Chapter Six – Elevating Performance: The Intellectual Level

Teaching Students to Listen

Teaching Dynamic Control

Listening Beyond Individual Parts

Teaching the Basics of Composition

The Big Picture

Teaching Form and Function

Everyone Plays the Melody

Encouraging Individual Expression

Creating Focus in Rehearsal

Chapter Seven – Elevating Performance: The Emotional Level

Crider’s words speak for themselves:

“The emotional level is perhaps the most difficult level to attain, and certainly words fall far short of serving as adequate interpreters for the power of music upon human emotion.”

“When the technical, intellectual, and emotional elements are blended with seamless intent, the music may last for a lifetime in the hearts and minds of the performers.”

“Musical expression should be an integral part of rehearsal from day one.”

Chapter Eight – Conducting Revisited

The importance of recording rehearsals and learning how to listen to a band are presented:

The Hands Must Not Lie

Correcting Bad Habits

Homage to HRR

How to Improve

If We Want Our Students to Watch, We Must Have Something to Say

“When we teach our students to perform with a commitment to excellence and give them insights that go far beyond the notes to that magical realm of musical expression, the experience can be life changing.

Chapter Nine – Creating a Culture of Caring

“…teachers must nourish the human spirits of their students.”

In a post-COVID world, we are tasked with rebuilding the cultures in our classrooms. What we took for granted as a natural outcome of the music activity must now be approached intentionally.

Creating a culture of caring

Teaching kindness

Developing character by setting good examples

Student mentoring programs

Eliminating negativity

“Through music, we create the world as it ought to be.”

Chapter Ten – Zen and the Art of Music Teacher Maintenance

This chapter has excellent self-care advice on an often-ignored subject.

The Power of Breath


The Healing Power of Water

Laughter: The Best Medicine

The Importance of Silence



Chapter Eleven – In Praise of Teachers

Why we do what we do. These simple and timeless truths cut through the tedious layers of “administrivia” that weigh us down, reminding us why we chose this profession.

“Music teachers inspire students to discover the best in themselves…”

“Teaching music is not a job; it is a passion.”


This is the essence of Professor Crider’s philosophy.

“You never stop learning…”

“Nothing can take the place of hard work. NOTHING. Hard work creates opportunities.”

“Never let anyone imply that you can’t do whatever you aspire to do or be whomever you wish to be.” 


The appendix contains a wonderfully thought-out guide called “Pathways to Productive Practice.” This guide will help our students learn how to practice, an often-ignored area.

2023     GIA Publications, Inc.     172pp     $29.95

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