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5 Tips For When Piano Teacher Life Is Overwhelming

Social media is great at showing people the happy times.


The "look at me, I'm thriving" times.


Recently, there's been a trend in opening up about the not-so-good times.


I thought I'd take this opportunity to be real and talk about the bad times you may face as a piano teacher.


But also suggest how you can pick yourself up ('cause who wants to just dwell on the bad?)



(I asked for an AI-created image of a motivational cat. I was today years old when I learned that motivational cats wear jean jackets!)

 

"I'm not good enough"


If you've never doubted yourself as a teacher, I commend you. Please tell us your secrets.


But the rest of us have days where there's a little niggling feeling in our stomachs that says, "Are you sure you're doing your best?"


  • Days when a lesson with a student ended on a bad note (pun not intended, but certainly enjoyed).


  • Days when a student left with an air of frustration after not understanding something and nothing you did seemed to help.


  • Or days when a student was disappointed with themselves and you couldn't find the right words to cheer them up.


It's easy to fixate on those times.


THE FIX:


That one lesson is just one out of hundreds, thousands that you've taught.


Reminisce on happy lessons where the student left grinning, where both of you were in fits of giggles, or when they had a light bulb moment.


Replace the doubts you have with memories of successful lessons. There will always be more positives than negatives.


And if you let the feeling of "I'm pretty good at my job" push out any thoughts of "Should I be doing this?" you can turn your mood around.



 


"I have too much on my plate"


This usually comes at the end of a term/semester when everything's been building up.


Big events are just around the corner, and you feel the pressure of everything weighing down.


Performances need to go well.


You want to ensure students will return after the break.


You have a million thoughts running through your head and you can't grab hold of one of them to focus on it for long enough.


The Fix:


Write out a brain dump.


Grab a big piece of paper and coloured pens and write down everything on your mind.


It doesn't have to be organised. In fact, it shouldn't be.


It could be a list, bullet points, mind map, random words dotted over the page - anything.


Just get it all out.


Then, go through it and highlight the most important things that you need to focus on NOW.


There'll be some thoughts on there that can wait.


Then, write a list of everything you need to accomplish sooner rather than later, in order of importance.


When you get everything out of your head and onto paper, your brain feels less cloudy.


Then, see if there are things you can ask people to help you with.


Have some games you need to prepare? Invite a friend around for a catch-up and to help you cut.


Do your recital programmes need folding? Tell your daughter you'll take her to get ice cream if she helps you fold!



 


"I'm losing students. Should I just give up?"


Students come, and students go. That's the life of a private instrumental teacher.


But more often than not, it's nothing to do with you.


Kids' lives these days are hectic. There are a million clubs they want to join and a million TikTok videos they want to watch, and schools seem to be piling on even more pressure with exams.


I would personally hate to be a child or teenager in 2024!


The Fix:


As hard as it is not to take it personally, it's best to move on and remind yourself that things happen for a reason.


Rather than dwelling on what you could have done differently, shift your focus to how you can attract new students.


A new offer? An enticing new marketing plan?


Be excited that you can now share your love and passion for music with NEW students. And who knows who's around the corner!



 


"I'm burnt out."


When you push and push to keep going, you'll burn out. It's inevitable.


Unless you're a robot.


A commonly used analogy is that of a mobile phone.


When your phone battery gets low, you charge it. You don't leave it and expect it to keep going on 2% and not give up.


You should think of yourself in the same way.


If your battery is getting low, stop and charge it!


If you feel you've worked flat out and are plodding along, STOP!


Don't accept that you're on 2%, and keep going.


The Fix:


Have an activity that recharges you that's nothing to do with teaching or work. A complete refresh.


It could be getting lost in a good book.


Taking an online dance class and shaking off that burnout.


Soaking in a bubble bath.


Baking cookies and eating them while bingeing that series on Netflix you've been wanting to watch.


Remember this quote: "If you can't find time for a 10-minute walk, you need a 20-minute walk."



 


"I don't know what I'm doing."


Teaching can feel lonely. You have so many questions and stories about lessons, but no one in your family or friendship group really understands.


They show willingness, and they'll listen, but they can't sympathize. They've never tried to teach a wiggly 7-year-old about intervals!


The Fix:


Find a piano teaching pal.


There are many Facebook groups and Instagram accounts where piano teachers talk about teaching.


I've discovered that if you reach out to someone who's posted something you find funny or interesting, nine times out of 10, they're happy to chat.


I've met loads of lovely teachers through Instagram, and we'll pop up to tell each other funny stories or vent, always knowing the other person will understand!


PSST!


If you're looking for music games that will engage your students BUT they're easy to prep, check out Musical Turtle.


1 board, 4 different games (and there are even alternative boards depending on the level of your students)





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annaoberst
annaoberst
4 days ago

LOL! I'm laughing at the picture/comment of the motivational cat & the jean jacket. Sounds like a good model for your next felting project: Motivational Cats in jean jackets. LOL!!!

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