The most common question

By far, the most common question I get from people I first meet is, "How do you spend your days?" There seems to be a misconception that private music teachers don't do much outside of teaching time. I've wanted to tackle this for sometime now. Here goes... Private music teachers are basically a one-man/woman show. Corporations have separate departments for sales and marketing, information technology, accounting, administration, research and development, human resources, professional development, planning and maintenance. In my line of work, all those functions are performed by one person - the teacher (in this case, me).

I'm not sure how my colleagues do this, but I designate one day a week for each "department". I aim to get my work done before I begin teaching for the day, but that isn't always the case, especially since I usually need to address an issue from each "department" everyday. For instance, today was "wrap up "Peak Performance Conference sponsor packages/reports"" day but I have also made it "website update/overhaul day" and "ARMTA Website Committee Meeting Day". Bookkeeping is next on the list (my least favourite activity but I wear a goofy hat to lighten the mood).

It's not a typical 9 to 5 job. Often, I will get phone calls and e-mails outside of office and studio hours. But since I can't train my dog Maestro do field calls for me, I will usually take the call.

Practicing, transcribing and composing are best left for the evening after I've finished teaching for the day. I read somewhere that a study proved that you sleep better if you practice before bed. It helps the brain in someway. Unfortunately, the name of the study escapes me.

In addition to these job functions, there are workshops and events hosted by the Alberta Registered Music Teachers' Association (ARMTA Calgary branch) and the Alberta Piano Teachers's Association. These are usually scheduled in the mornings, when most teachers can attend. I currently sit on the Board for ARMTA Calgary, which means meetings, meetings and more meetings. It's not so bad though, compared to last year, when I was going to meetings and working on projects for three teaching organizations. What's scary is that I saw many of the same faces at all these meetings for the three groups.

As I also do some writing on the side, that usually is left till the wee hours of the night or when the fancy strikes me. Back in university, my best papers were written at 2 AM. That really hasn't changed since then.

The days are long, but I try to squeeze in breaks during the day - running errands, meeting with friends, hanging out with my dog. Maestro insists upon it.

(c) 2005 by Musespeak(tm). All rights reserved.