Email correspondence with a former student this week sparked the following thoughts. We’ve been discussing, among other things, the balance of work and family – an issue for most people in most professions. I like to think I have this solved but there’s a chance I’m delusional. Some random thoughts and things to things to consider:
- Financial dependence: if you (whether you have a family or not) are completely dependent on your teaching income, you’ll have to do what you have to do.
- Scheduling issues: the biggest challenge teaching at home is separating your work and family life. Set specific studio hours depending on your family schedule and work your students into that schedule – don’t let them dictate yours. One of my backbone-strengthening moments came when my son was a few months old. A singer I was working with called to say he would be over at 10:00 PM for an extra rehearsal. Um – NO! We can be far too accommodating and even honest to a fault – putting ourselves out and charging only for time actually served at the piano, rather than scheduled time that has been forever lost. Apparently, though, the traditional honesty of piano teachers is changing, according to the Wall Street Journal; we now rank with dentists, investment bankers and cabbies when it comes to giving (dis)honest information.*
- The rescheduling issue: every time you reschedule a lesson outside of your stated studio hours, it eats into family or personal time. My husband finally had to put his foot down about Saturday make-up lessons (one of the great things about being married – you can use each other’s lack of permission as an excuse to get out of any number of things).
- The luxury of choice: the cliché holds true – kids grow up far too quickly. If you can, teach just enough to give yourself some satisfaction, some mental and aesthetic stimulation, and an escape to help you hold on to your sanity. A number of years ago an older teacher said to me, ”I wish someone had told me that for the rest of my life (after kids are gone) I would only have my husband and students to worry about.” This has stayed with me.
- Establish your priorities: contrary to what we’ve been fed for years (decades), we really can’t have it all. Chaos ensues if we try. Narrow your focus and do it well – this will help bring about the balance you need.
*Thank you again, DK.
- To accept or not to accept (ladonasmusicstudio.com)