Bitner’s Four Best Practices

Music conductor hands

Walter Bitner is a lifelong music educator who works as Director of Education & Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He write a blogpost called Off The Podium. I’ve been doing some personal study and review as I prepare for the upcoming worship season at KUMC. I ran across an blogpost he wrote about four practices that would help his students be intrinsically motivated as opposed to extrinsically motived. I thought that his writing was an excellent mirror in which to reflect the teachings of Jesus. And, considering how we tend to treat one another these days anyway, they have a lot of application in our daily lives.

It is important to say that I haven’t experienced any issues or problems here . . . but it is always good to keep such matters as how we treat others before everyone . . . love God, love neighbor.

Take a minute and read. NOTE: Where there are brackets, I’ve inserted words that apply to choir ensembles.

Four Practices

These are behavioral guidelines that help all of us in our interactions with others. This includes [directors] and [choristers] alike. [Choir members] are expected to strive to practice these in their interactions with the [director] and with each other.

Mutual Respect

I will treat others with respect at all times and can expect to be treated with respect by others, at all times. ‘Mutual Respect’ is sometimes described as the ‘Ethic of Reciprocity’ or ‘Golden Rule’.

Attentive Listening

When another is speaking, I listen. Listening means: not talking, not interrupting, not ignoring, and looking at as well as listening to the other. We listen with our whole selves, not just our ears.


Kindness is how we treat ourselves, others, and our environment, every day, and goes even beyond Mutual Respect. The practical rule of application for this practice is “Appreciations and No Put-downs”. Appreciations are what we do; put-downs are what we do not do. Appreciations are things we say to or do for others that make them feel good; put-downs are things that, if said to or done to others, would not. Actions or words that are unkind are unacceptable. An interesting observation about the concept of kindness is that the idea relates etymologically to that recognition that others and I are alike or “of the same kind”.

Best Effort

In all activities and at each moment I will do my best. This applies to my work in [choir,] my preparation for [choir] outside of [rehearsal,] and my interactions with others. By doing my best at all times I can live without regret and feel that my contribution to the [ensemble] is brought forth from the parts of myself that strive for the highest ideals.

To read all of Bitner’s blogpost, click HERE.

Published by Matt

Creative Arts developer, planner, husband, and father. I direct choirs, make graphic art, and film, photograph and work daily to foster an experience with the Holy.

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