Ep. 70: What you don’t know about 1 in 6 people you encounter, and why it matters; with David Knott

Photo by Chien Nguyen Minh on Unsplash

November 24, 2020

The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study investigated the correlation between childhood trauma and life-long development, health, and well-being. The astounding results have led to trauma informed approaches to education and medicine, among other areas. David Knott explains why an ACE understanding can elevate our music instruction, and how music education be used as a conduit to help young people who have experienced trauma.


Joining me today from Hershey, PA, is David Knott. David describes his job as “the sweetest band gig on earth” – he is the director of all Middle Division Band activities at Milton Hershey School. David is a professional percussionist, conductor, and educational leadership advocate.


  • David explains the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study and its implications.
  • David describes how can music education be used as a conduit to help young people who have experienced trauma, and gives specific examples of using a school music band setting to help them.
  • David tells us about Milton Hershey School, and a project he’s done with students called, “In the Key of Me.”
  • He also tells us about the Tactical SEL class he developed and instructs at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia: Tactical Integration of Trauma Informed and Social Emotional Learning Strategies for Music Education.
  • David says: “Everything I do I believe will challenge the status quo, I believe in thinking differently. I put students first, placing them in a safe and rigorous environment and provide the tools to allow them to reach their fullest creative self. I just happen to use band instruments to get there. My Mission in One Word: #Elevate.”

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David says: “This is significant for me and my daughter who go to see TRAIN in concert as often as possible. It serves as a reminder that with all the work we do as educators and soloists in the classical world and be best or better than….music ultimately is a connection between people.”

Closing words

And that is a little bit of Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” from their YouTube video; you can view the entire video in the show notes. A huge thanks to David for sharing with us today! I took a look at the Ted Talk he referenced by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and it was phenomenal; it gave me chills. It’s 15 minutes long; if you have any interest at all in the trauma-informed approach or the implications of childhood trauma, I highly recommend watching this Ted Talk. The link is in the show notes. As David was talking, I was thinking about comments my Dad makes regularly – whenever one of his kids or grandkids does something to make him proud, he always jokes, “Aren’t you glad I gave you such great DNA?!” Well, there is truth to that, Dad; I have a lot to thank you for! Speaking of Thanks, this week in the US, we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. I saw a great post on Facebook this past week. It was “Best quote for 2020: This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have.” I thought that was a great perspective. As I celebrate Thanksgiving this week, one of the things I am thankful for is you – my Enhance Life with Music community of guests and listeners and collaborators. My life is enriched by meeting you, and hearing from you, interacting with you, and being inspired by you. Thank you! I wish you all a meaningful and refreshing Thanksgiving, however you end up celebrating. And as you go through your week, remember that 1 in 6 people you interact with may have experienced significant trauma that is coloring their behavior. Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

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