The Two Best Jobs

There is something so wonderful about music and music teaching that goes way beyond being just another "job," don't you agree? Once you're in, and you experience the joy of performing and teaching and using your talents in so many ways to bless your life and the lives of others, you are in it for life. That really is how I feel about music. I am a musician, I am a teacher, and I always will be. I hope to one day be one of those amazing women still going strong and teaching piano and changing lives into their 80's. Think of all the students you could teach in that amount of time, think of the joy of really seeing them progress, grow, move on and in turn teach and inspire others. I think what I'm trying to get at, is that being a music teacher is wonderful, and it is something that will always be a part of my life.

As will my role of being a mother. And even more so than teaching music, being a mother will always be an important and integral part of my life, and one that brings me so much joy and fulfillment. Think through the years of all the wonderful things you can do to bless your own family; think of all the things you can teach your children. Think of the joy you will experience as your children grow, learn, become potty-trained, develop talents, become wonderful people, and in turn have children of their own and raise and nurture them.

The roles of parent and music teacher are both important, far-reaching and so fulfilling. For many of us, they will most likely be integral parts of our lives for years and years to come. I do feel like this is the case for me; I also feel that at certain times in my life, one will be more important than the other (and vice versa) and will take the spotlight.

I currently have just a few students. My husband's schedule is such that he is able to be with my little boy while I teach. (I love this!) I would rather my son play with his daddy during that time than hire a babysitter. So, as of now, it works wonderfully. Still, there are those days when my little buddy just wants to play with me, and when I tell him I have to teach a piano lesson he gets a little disappointed look on his face that just tugs at my heartstrings (anyone relate to this?).

Of course it is wonderful (and so needed) to have a little time off from being a mommy, and to pursue those things that you love. I know we all need and appreciate this time. I always feel so energized after teaching a lesson, it's always a great reminder to me of why I chose this profession. But as I think about taking on more and more students in the future, I have to stop and think - when is it going to be too much? How much can I handle?

Each teacher and parent is different. Each of us has our own situations, priorities, needs, beliefs. What works for one teacher will not work for another.

I wanted to share my own personal feelings on the matter of balancing these two roles. Maybe some of my ideas will help give you some ideas of your own. Hopefully others will also share their experiences and their plans.

I have always decided and known that I would be a mother and a wife first, and a piano teacher second. It is just a no-brainer to me that that is what I want to do. Of course I love teaching and will continue to be a teacher for my entire life (picturing my 80-year-old self in a great piano studio, teaching lots of students, having lots of energy, maybe a Steinway or two...). But when it comes to choosing between the two, my family comes first.

I have decided that, no matter what, I will not teach in the afternoons when my children come home from school. It is so important for me to be there, to be available to hear about their day, to help with homework. I know that may sound crazy from a piano teacher's perspective, because that is the traditional time when piano lessons usually happen! One thing that I'd like to address this week (probably in a later post) is ideas on when/how to teach at times OTHER than after school. I think that with a little creativity and ingenuity, there are really so many possibilites to make it work!

As a teacher with a husband who probably has a few years of grad school ahead of him, I am so excited that I have such a wonderful way to help support our family during that time. I plan to come up with a teaching schedule that minimizes the time spent away from my child, and allows me to teach enough to help support the family.

I have decided that, once my husband is done with school (who knows when that will exactly be :)) and as our children grow, I will probably take a hiatus from teaching for awhile. (I know, gasp!) That may mean no teaching at all, it may mean only occasionally taking on a student or two, it may be teaching a fellow-teacher's children while they teach my children, who knows. I am not completely sure yet. BUT, just because I take a teaching hiatus does not mean I take a music hiatus. I will not let my piano skills go or leave the "piano world;" I will maintain my skills, continue learning and seeking higher education, remain a competent pianist and teacher (after all, being a mother is being a teacher). I will practice. I will perform for my children. I will help them in their piano/music study.

My goal and hope is that even though I may take a little teaching break (for a cause that, in my book, is the most important thing there is), I will be able to continue my education and training, maintain and improve my piano skills and be ready to continue teaching piano lessons for the rest of my life.

Now, we'd love to hear from you! How do you find a balance? What are your ideas and plans about how to be a parent and a piano teacher? What are some ideas for child care during lessons? For those of you who do have older children, how has teaching worked during these years?


Heidi said...

This post echoes so many of my own sentiments. One of the things I have enjoyed the most is teaching piano to my own children-even though they aren't always as enthusiastic about it as I am. When one of them asks for a late night "lesson" its like someone offering me chocolate - pretty hard to say no:).
Piano preschool was a fun way for me to combine my role as parent/piano teacher as 2 of my "students" were my own children. They were more excited about doing piano activities with their friends, and it helped me to be more consistent about teaching them too.

Anya at Notes of Joy said...

Thanks, Jenny, for such a helpful and heartfelt post. I've been teaching piano lessons for nearly 10 years (so it's a major part of my life!) -- and now our first baby is due in October (and I'm SO excited!)... so I'm very interested to hear how teachers strike a good balance between teaching and 'mommying'. :-) Thanks for your thoughts and advice -- I love reading this blog!

Olivia said...

I wish I could find more students who want to take lessons during after school hours! Where I teach in the D.C. metro area, there are many families with two working parents who need their children to take evening lessons. 5:30-8 are my in demand hours.

Jenny Bay said...

Olivia - I have found that to be a common thing here in San Antonio as well. Since writing this post almost two years ago, I now have a daughter as well and I actually try to teach a lot after 7 when my children are in bed, and my husband is studying for school - so it actually works out pretty well! But once the husband is done with school, I would rather not teach during those hours. It's always an interesting balancing act with the two roles and with my current schedule...I wonder how others handle it?

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