Here we are!  Whether you have started teaching in the past week for the fall semester or are not beginning until after Labor Day, summer is essentially over.  I find summer to be a mindset–somehow even through teaching in the summer we get that “summertime” pace.  Gearing down whenever possible is what I most like to do in the summer.  But now, here comes the fall.  This year, more than ever, we need to get as much stability in our own lives to help us cope with a global situation and often times teaching situation that calls for ever greater efforts on our part.  This is why it is essential that we get a morning routine going that helps us feel that we accomplished our personal goals before our students walk through the door.

Some of you may be night owls.  I am not one of them.  Once the last student leaves which is after 8 PM I consider myself done.  Practicing until midnight?  Paying bills?  Makeing Phone calls–Not on the Menu.  I want to unravel and mindlessly watch TV.  Even reading a book can be a challenge for me.  Given in our profession we tend to end later than the office job hours, it is even more important that we plan our before teaching hours wisely.  Here are some suggetions:

  1.  Exercise–you know that once you shower and get dressed you are NOT going to undo all that and get sweaty.  And 7:30 or 8PM is low energy time.  How about planning a daily routine for yourself.  I’ve been cruising the You Tube channel and with a subscription that is affordable there’s a plethora of workouts –everything from pilates and yoga to weight training and cardio.  Walking is available to all of us unless the weather is cold or rainy.  Perhaps you prefer a mid day walk.  That’s great–but pencil it in and make it a promise to yourself for your own health to stay on track.  I’ve had challenges staying on track these past years and made a promise to myself to get this nailed down.  I now feel more fulfilled and well rounded.  It’s worth the effort.  Maybe an exercise buddy or someone you check in with to keep you honest and accountable.

2.  Practicing–Okay, so you don’t want to play solo concerts.  If you are a church musician or accompanist practice hours begin to work themselves in just to be ready each week.  If you are not, however, practicing is essential to your professional development,  Use it or lose it.  You went into this field because you love the arts so even an hour a day will keep you personally connected to your instrument.  You don’t have to learn something long and complicated.  Perhaps just revisiting your college repertoire would be a fine place to begin.

3.  Reading–a bugaboo for me.  I think all those graduate years made me adverse to “reading for pleasure.”  I took a course where reading a 100 pages a week was almost the norm.  I hated it and I hated even thinking about opening a book or a novel.  I’d attend my daughter’s parties and hear her friends talking about all kinds of bestsellers that they had read and felt out of step.  I hadn’t even heard of the contemporary authors.  A great place to start is joining GoodReads.  It’s free and you can read the posts others have made about things they have read.  You can plan a list of books you’d like to read and track your progress, even making a year goal for reading.  Even 3o minutes a day during lunch will get you quite far in reading a book.

4.  Special Projects–perhaps you have something you have always said “I just don’t have time.”  I’ll bet you do.  Why not carve out a few hours a week.  Make an appointment for yourself and keep it sacred.  You will feel so accomplished that you are working on a project of interest to you during the week.

5,  Downtime Before Teaching–whatever you do, try to plan that last hour or even 30 minutes before teaching just for yourself to relax.  Maybe this could be your reading time.  Maybe a little TV show you enjoy.  I don’t mean using it for plan time and cleaning up the studio–just for you.

There you have it.  A five point plan to include a better work/personal life balance for the work week.  It’s amazing what just a few hours a day working the above items will do for you.  Everything doesn’t have to happen everyday.  Maybe reading 3 days a week is a better pace.  Above all, do what enhances your life and circumstances.  You will be better for it and so will your students.

Musically yours, Carol Ann