"Close your eyes and dream..."
Mmmm...I love to dream.
“Close your eyes and let’s do some long term planning...”
Uh...not so much.
Maybe I could muster some long-term dreaming.
Our lives as piano teachers are short on dreaming. Lately I've become more aware of the power of imagining. Letting myself think big. Even Outrageous.
As small business owners we are in a position to make a reality of our dreams. We are capable of making changes that suit us.
Here’s the rub:
We have to dream them first.
In the isolated world of the private piano teacher, nothing beats a terrific and supportive colleague. A group of them is even better. If we can meet those colleagues in a setting free of the distractions of home and family, it's ideal.
I am writing this on the plane home from Chicago where I've just experienced my first National Conference on Piano Pedagogy. I’ve been to numerous conventions but this conference is different.
First, it requires no membership. You don’t need to submit your college transcripts or videos of your teaching. If you want to go, you can go! While I enjoy the conventions put on by the membership organizations like the Music Teachers National Association, they are exclusive. If you aren’t a member, you can still attend but it’s more expensive and not very friendly.
Second, it wasn’t overwhelmed with performing students and their families. There’s nothing wrong with students performing, but if the teachers are preoccupied with their own students’ performances, it’s distracting. It becomes about the teacher as teacher, not the teacher as student.
Third, it’s unabashedly, joyfully only for pianists. In honor of this, all the major music publishers, (Kjos, Hal Leonard, Alfred, FJH and others) happily bring scads of music to the NCKP conference and offer it at deep discounts - usually at least 25%. That discount alone pays for a lot of the price of the conference if you buy most of your music for the year. Smaller publishers, self-publishers and music educators share the best of the tools of the trade.
Forrest Kinney, Wendy Stevens, Elissa Milne, Randall Faber, Melody Bober, Keith Snell, Charlene Shelzi and Leila Viss were all there talking to people about their compositions, products and methods. The people at the cutting edge of technology and music learning were there. They even set up a "Geek Bar" where anyone could go and ask the dumbest of their technology questions without embarrassment.
We're all just like you. We're just musicians who want to connect with others like ourselves and make all of our jobs easier and more fulfilling.
Every teacher should have the opportunity to hear Wendy Stevens' session on Best Stress-Free Business Practices. Every piano teacher AND piano parent would be happier if they followed her brilliant advice.
So what about the dreaming? I invite you to dream about joining me in two years. Will it take some planning? Yes, but if you're a private piano teacher, you’re already an expert at planning. You just may not include your own needs in that planning.
Planning for your own needs isn’t selfish. Ironically, the best thing you can do for your students is to do something for yourself. Something that will make you a better teacher.
If you need some help planning to make this reality, read this and get started.
Does this sound like a place you'd like to be? Would you like to get ideas from us about how to make your daily life better?
One night a few of us were sitting around chatting a few nights ago when Elissa Milne said, " Oh, please, Diane. Just get yourself out of your little private cul-de-sac of self-flagellation!" (Translation from the Australian - "Stop beating yourself up and move on!")
In the Facebook groups online, I find myself increasingly impatient with the complaining of teachers, and yet I found myself doing exactly the same thing..
There is advice, there are materials, and there is even a brilliant conference available to you.
Be brave. Dream big. Join me in Chicago in 2015.
I can't wait to meet you!
These ladybug stickers are perfect for reminding students to keep their hand in a perfect "ladybug" position.