How to survive long days as a teacher

Hi everyone 👋 it has been awhile, but I’m trying my best to be consistent in blogging. To be honest, I feel like I’ve already written about all I could possibly write about. And I have no more new ideas. I want to write more though, so I’m going to keep thinking of new blog post ideas. Today’s post is going to be about how to survive long days as a teacher. I’m going to be working for most of the day tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to share how I prepare/survive for these long days. Let’s get right to it.

I feel like I am the queen of coffee lately. I can’t go a day without it and I’m beginning to think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve all of my goals for the day without the help of coffee. That’s just my honest opinion about myself. I’m an addict. I use the McDonald’s app to get $1 coffees in the morning, and I also have Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts reward apps. If I’m really struggling by the end of the day, I’ll drink a second coffee. I’m not ashamed. If you ever wonder how I manage to work, study, and go to the gym every day… the answer is caffeine.

Another thing I try to do is to stack all of my lessons back to back to one another. I used to love down time, but I’ve changed. I’m now more interested in getting as much done in a day. If I have too many breaks in between lessons, I feel like my day is too long. This is an advantage for someone who manages their own schedule. I like to feel the pressure of going to the next lesson. And that makes my days go dramatically way faster.

I use Spotify and pandora during my drives. I don’t think I could be as productive as I am without the help of Spotify. I listen to stations that are test related. And I listen to Pandora when I’m tired. Music makes the time go by faster.

The last thing I do is just trying to relax. I’m not a strict teacher. I tried to be as laid back as I can because I don’t want to be bored during the lesson either. If I know I have a lot of lessons, I will create a game or include something fun to do. I’ll do this for Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Saturday’s. It makes the lesson time go by faster and in return, my students also get to have fun learning.

Resources for the new teacher

I remember my first days of being a new teacher. I didn’t own any extra books. I only had one pencil and one pen. And nothing else really. It was tough. I made my own calendar by drawing lines. I mostly didn’t know what to do or how to organize anything. I was completely new to being a teacher. And I didn’t receive any supplies from anybody. I had to purchase all of my own supplies and come up with all of my own techniques. Now, on the internet, people are sharing their teaching methods everywhere and it is much easier. Back then, it wasn’t as easy.

I learned a lot of my techniques through joining a Facebook group tailored specifically for piano teachers. Whenever I had a problem, I asked other teachers. And this helped a lot. They talked me through many of the initial problems new teachers go through. I feel like I am stronger now because of the support from that group. I’m still a member of that group and I’ve began helping other new teachers. I’m the mentor and it feels great to help other teachers. The advice is free. And they are always willing to help.

I found that there are some apps that you can use on your phone to make teaching easier. In my first couple of years, I was obsessed with using apps and I’ve began to drift away from them. I still use a metronome and tuning app though. Those are my favorites. I would stay away from all other apps because they can be distracting for students. I prefer to have my students learn from a book rather than staring at a screen. In addition to using apps, I’ve found that google is a great resource for looking up musical terms. I have my own pocket dictionary of musical terms that includes all composers, but google is a great resource in the beginning of your teaching career also.

If you have a smartphone, I suggest using text messages to communicate with piano families. It’s much more convenient and you can access it wherever you go. Use technology to your advantage and always look for new ways to maximize your time.

Supplies and books were always a huge obstacle for me. I was always short in supplies until I started making more money. I used secondhand items until I could afford my own. When I discovered the dollar store, everything changed. It’s much cheaper and I would strictly shop from there for supplies. I’ve found that buying supplies from amazon in big bulks is helpful too. My students are always using all of my supplies, so I need a lot for my backup. I shop at my local music store for books because I get a teacher discount, but amazon is great for buying books too. I would go to music stores and ask for their teacher discounts. I’ve found that students can also use my discount because their under my teacher account.

I joined the teachers music association two years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. They put your name on the teacher directory so other schools can find you if they need a teacher. They provide free resources and books. I went to a music book sale and bought a lot of books because they offered it. And they donated me more books too. I can also offer my students more extra curricular activities. I’ve found it to be a very valuable resource. And I met other teachers too.

I used Facebook neighborhood groups to advertise for my lessons. And the amount of calls I got was way more than other forms of advertisements. Facebook is an amazing resource for advertising and you can also create your own Facebook page for your music studio.

If you want to give your students a great experience, that’s really great. It’s expensive though. And we don’t always have the money for it. I’ve found ways to make small gifts in cheap ways by looking online. And I make my own music flash cards with plain notecards. There are many great resources and things you can do for your students that are cost effective. You just have to be creative.

YouTube is a great resource for learning about teaching. I learned more about teaching techniques and materials by watching YouTube videos. And I also have my students listen to their piano songs on YouTube before learning it. It’s a great free resource to have on the go.

If you don’t know, Spotify offers free podcasts to listen to. And if you have a gmail account, you can access word document and excel sheets for free. I’ve made lecture slides for my students through google drive. And I’ve also printed free domain music sheets online. If you’re using your books for private use, you can photocopy your music sheets for students. I would stockpile all of my good music and my books for reuse for all of my students. Having multiple students use a performance book or a sightreading book can dramatically cut costs.

If you’re anything like me, you need lots of coffee. I’ve found that Starbucks offers an account to earn free drinks and food. I use that frequently to earn stars. I also have a Dunkin’ Donuts card to earn points. If you have the McDonald’s app, the large coffees are only $1 and you can earn free coffee there too. I use the curbside pickup to save time. And the breakfast sandwiches are a penny too. I always grab food there early before my lessons or during my breaks. If you’re looking for lunch, download the Sonics app and you get access to happy hour 24/7. All drinks are half off and they offer deals on there too. If you have a smoothie king account, they offer a rewards system. If you want $2 extra when you sign up, you can use my referral link here. If you exercise at a gym, they might offer extra discounts for smoothies at tropical smoothie. All of us teachers are always looking for good drinks and food. I hope that helps.

Once you get started teaching, you’ll get better at being a teacher. And many things will become reflexive the more you do it. There are so many resources available and I hope you take advantage of it all. Keep researching and working hard!

Can you learn the piano by yourself?

Yes, you can learn the piano by yourself. However, it is best to have a teacher by your side to guide you through the difficult stages of learning the piano. There are techniques such as fluid hand motion and technical issues that you can’t solve by yourself. Imagine if you tried to learn how to fix your sink and you spent hours googling how to do it. You could have just hired a plumber to come fix it and they could have done it in 30 minutes.

I know that this isn’t what people want to hear. It’s not what I would want to hear if I was a beginner, but I don’t want to lie to you. I don’t want to sell you a piano course that doesn’t guarantee that you will learn the piano. I don’t want to sell you a product that might work. I actually want to give you advice that will save you time and money. You can’t do everything yourself. I’ve seen many students fail at learning the piano by themselves. Please don’t listen to all the advertising gibberish online. You need to find a piano teacher that can physically be right next to you and to guide you through this process. Don’t waste your money on anything else. I’ve seen many instances where it doesn’t work.

I hope this helps you and let me know if there are anymore topics that you want me to discuss.

A day in the life of a piano teacher 🍎 🍏

I find myself really busy all the time. There are a million things on my todo list and honestly, there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. For me, I always make sure that all of my students are progressing. And that takes a lot of attention and decision making every day.

Today, I started out with a doctors appointment. I cleaned out my teaching bag yesterday night so I have a clean start for this new week. I also answered some text messages from parents. I almost always get texts every day from parents either to reschedule or cancel a lesson. Before lessons, I spend time answering all these texts for the day. I then start packing my teaching bag. I carry a lot of materials with me when I go to teach. It’s a big deal to really stock up on materials because my students use it up very fast. After that, I usually almost always bring a big bottle of water and a coffee for the day. Then, I’m out the door.

For me, I use google calendar for all of my scheduling. I know I’ve written a separate blog post about google calendar before, but if you guys want me to write another one, I can explain more about how I use it. Google calendar is my lifeline. It’s where I store ALL of my information on lessons and addresses. I also store personal events and reminders for every aspect of my life on there. It’s kind of like a planner, but more catered to my style of planning. I also share my calendar with my boyfriend so he can see what I have to do for the day. He also shares his calendar with me. I glance at my calendar for the day and I see how my day is going to be.

I travel to each of my students’ homes to teach. It’s convenient for me because I don’t want to teach from my own home. And they like the convenience of it. Each student has lesson books and technical exercise books I’ve chosen for them. We go through the lesson by me watching them play. And I give feedback. At times, I’ll have to teach a concept and they just listen. I have four lessons today. That’s quite a large load for me on a typical day. I average about 4-5 lessons a day.

I don’t know how today’s going to go because I haven’t started my lessons yet. But I hope it’s going to be a good day 🤞 I hope everyone is having a good Monday!

What’s been new with me

My birthday just recently passed and I’ve been working a lot. I have 21 piano and double bass students that I teach every week. They are quite a handful of young kids. And I’ve been noticing that some of the younger ones are not practicing. I’ve been thinking of implementing a check in on practicing every Thursday to see how their progress is going.

I dealt with some trials and tribulations yesterday, but I shared that with my other blog. I went out to buy my own shoes, so no one will steal them. And I hid my current ones away too 😁 They are my “teaching shoes” that I wear every day to go teach. Even my oldest sister, that I don’t live with anymore, knows that those shoes are mine. But somehow, they were taken when I needed to wear them… now that won’t happen! I’m also going camping today with friends. We’re camping in their backyard haha because we don’t want to tough out the actual wilderness. And bathroom breaks are a lot easier.

I have my first piano lesson of the day in 45 minutes. And I’ve been spending these last few minutes, as I always do, just relaxing and calming down. Yesterday was a good full day of lessons. My students definitely cheer me up when I feel down.

I hope everyone is having a great day 👍

Perfect Day

I had the most perfect day today. I went out to eat with my best friend for dinner. We went out to Grimaldis🥂 it’s a pizza place that serves really awesome food.

I learned that my friends are one of the most important people in my life. They motivate me to tackle each day head-on. And I am so happy to see them when we are both free. Friends add so much happiness to my life. I’m thankful for all of them.

I also spent the day with my amazing boyfriend. We don’t always get to spend the day together because of circumstances beyond our control. I was able to eat lunch with him. And it’s rare that we can eat a meal with just us at a table. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and napping. I really needed to take it easy for the rest of the day. He was also sick, and I had brought all sorts of medicine for him. While he slept, I was able to play some games on my phone. I played Mario Kart on my iPhone. That is such a fun game! I got first place every single round. My favorite character is toadette.

I’m ending the day with working out at the gym with my boyfriend. I’m actually writing this blog post while I’m on the bicycle in the gym. I’m learning that life is so precious. If I didn’t take the time today to appreciate the amazing people in my life, I would have taken this day for granted. Thank you God for bringing my loved ones in my life. I’m also chatting with my other best friends on text right now too. My best friend just told me she’ll be back from Reno for thanksgiving. Life is great ❤️

I want to take this time to thank all my friends for making my life so much better. I love you guys.

Burnt Out

I’ve been constantly on the go moving from task to task. I haven’t really had time to relax. My job requires me to be there six days out of the week and I’ve finally hit the wall today. My brain is fried. I know that if I push myself to work today, I will end up regretting it later. And I’ll also be very miserable.

So what did I do? I canceled my lessons for the rest of the day. I knew that it would have repercussions because not everyone has the ability to make their own schedule. I do, however. I rescheduled my lessons for another day. For my own mental health, I had to do it.

It’s good to always be on the move. People strive for progress and are always surrounded by responsibilities. What happens when we finally relax and give our mind a break? Great things. Even better. I think we come back stronger than ever. And we are recharged to start again. Just like a low phone battery, we have to recharge. And then, we’ll be ready for another day.

How to afford multiple music lessons at a time

If you’re anything like me, you love music. And it’s something that you want to completely pursue. You think that it’s amazing and it makes you so happy. Oh wait, is that only me?? Lol I am such a music nerd. I’ll tell you a little about myself: I have been taking piano lessons for about 18 years and double bass lessons for 6 years. I have also been taking viola lessons for about 4 months now. And the kicker is that I’m thinking about adding singing lessons on top of that. Yeah, I’m such a nerd. I look forward to my lessons every week. And I’m constantly practicing and delving into more music literature. This is cool information and all, but the million dollar question is how do I justify spending this much money on myself? Notice how I changed it from “afford” to “justify.”

It’s not that I don’t think they are expensive because they definitely are. However, in my mind, I do it in addition to working. Therefore, it is my hobby. Music is something that I’ve invested a lot of time to. In my perspective, I don’t think of it as extra. I need to continue studying music. It’s become a necessity.

Think of it like traveling. To some people, traveling seems like a luxury, but there are people who absolutely need to travel. It makes them happy. This all may sound silly, and I hope you can understand. Those who study music don’t ever stop. They want to learn more. It’s not about learning a set of songs and being satisfied. Learning music is a constant journey. And that is how I justify having multiple music lessons!

What my schedule looks like (Typically)

I thinks there’s some misunderstanding when it comes to people who work for themselves. I want to kind of clear the air about it and hopefully shine some more light on what I do everyday. I have very flexible scheduling. There’s always time for me to spend time with friends or make time for myself. And that is something completely new to me! When I used to work for an employer, I worked 10 hour shifts. My schedule was already predetermined. The thing that I didn’t like was that I had to stay there for 10 hours straight. When I started working more for myself, I have plenty of breaks in between each lesson.

On a typical day, I teach about 2-10 students a day. It really depends on which day it is. When I wake up in the morning, I have plenty of time to get ready for the day, take care of Zoe, make breakfast, relax, or even go workout. And I know that must sound really weird because most people don’t have that much time to do those things on a workday. It’s not that I don’t do anything at all during those times, but I focus more on prepping for the day. And when I’m able to prep for my day, the other aspects in life are settled also. This is all because I have the time to spare.

The big question is: do I even work? Or am I barely working? That’s a good question. I have to work really hard. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to create excellent students and I also have to manage the extra-curricular things for them also. I have them perform in recitals and take musicianship exams. They also have to complete practice charts, homework assignments, and sight-reading practices. I’m very strict on these things, so it’s not always fun. The pressure also comes from having to keep them engaged with music and help them feel inspired every week. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into preparing for lessons that nobody ever talks about. On top of the fact, I am also taking training classes every week. Therefore, it may seem like there’s not a lot of work, but it can definitely add up to be a lot.

I hope that gives you more insight on what my days usually look like 🙂

If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below

Also, check out my other blog Cleverlybegun.wordpress.com