Being a music educator is all about investing — investing in yourself, your students and your program. I’ve heard from many teachers that they feel exhausted, overwhelmed and less motivated this school year. And who can blame them? We’ve been through a lot these last two years!
However, I’ve also seen some teachers who are on fire! They are trying new things, staying positive and enjoying what they do each and every day. I’d like to offer three suggestions based on the idea of investing.
There’s a mentality that we have to “get back to normal” now that COVID-19 is abating (fingers crossed). All music educators suffered playing through the pandemic, losing some great players and seeing a reduction in participation. It’s essential to remember that the work you are doing right now each and every day will probably see a return in several years, not in a few weeks. Like the stock market performance over the past 100 years, we need to be visionaries and focus on the next 10, 25 and 100 years of music education.
So, slow down and make a positive and meaningful experience that your students will remember for their entire lives. Your CURRENT students are the music parents of the FUTURE. Music class isn’t a race to perfect a piece of music, it’s an investment.
If you have lost some motivation or feel frustrated about your job, you are experiencing a low point — it happens to all of us. This is precisely the time to find some extra time and resources and make an investment for YOURSELF. I recommend taking a professional development class. I teach online classes at VanderCook College of Music, and I assure you that there is a relevant, thought-provoking course for you that will light a fire in your musical soul. Check out VanderCook's courses.
There is nothing like interacting with a topic that is important to your music program and challenging yourself to do better alongside other music teachers. You’re probably thinking that spending more time on your job can NOT be the answer, but truly, if you are looking to come up and out of the pandemic with a continued passion for music education, you must allow yourself more opportunity to sharpen your mind. Besides taking a class, consider attending a conference or simply meet up with a mentor. No matter what you decide to do, this is a great time to invest in you!
Great investors share ideas and numbers, they talk about the market, and they aren’t afraid to ask for help. I recommend that you do the same.
Music teachers tend to keep to ourselves a lot. It’s easy to stay in our corner of the building and keep busy with the thousands of items on our to-do lists. Like the previous suggestion, we need to interact with more people who do what we do.
If you feel like you need help in a particular area, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are countless online groups that you could consult, or you can reach out to your local music educators association. Another great resource is your local music store/supplier who likely knows great people for you to connect with, but you have to ask!
I suggest making this year the year you bolster up your team! Everyone needs a team of reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable and passionate people to get them through life. You, as a music educator, are a leader in your community. Great leaders are team players. You need a team! As this school year is coming to a close, focus on building a team for the future — a team full of members who you can learn from and share your great ideas with.