teachers Tag

by Jennene Estes, The Catoctin School of Music Improvisation is the act of accessing creativity in the moment and under pressure, to resolve or direct the resolution of a situation to meet objectives. It is the ability to converge composition, creativity and execution to achieve success. And the benefits of learning improvisation have been proven in both young people and adults to improve and promote communication, decision making,...

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If you look at my almost 4-year-old son you would agree that he is a happy and healthy little boy. He is almost always smiling, has an incredible memory, and is almost as tall as his 6-year-old big sister.

If you observed him at his preschool or in a swimming lesson, you might jump to the conclusion that he is a brat or that I am a terrible mother who must let my child do whatever he wants.

You see, my son has an array of diagnoses and special needs that aren’t visible to the typical eye.  His special needs are the result of early trauma that have affected his brain deeply. His needs manifest themselves in his behavior, his struggle to focus, his ability to transition from one activity to the next, his ability to keep his body in check and many other ways that make nearly every moment a struggle because his brain has difficulty processing all the information and stimuli around him.

We haven’t been able to just sign him up for any activity we think he might enjoy, and we often don’t attend group events, Sunday School or story times at the library. We have to be very thoughtful about what will allow him to be successful, and discuss with the teachers and group leaders whether or not they are equipped and open to learning about how to deal with a child that has special needs.

You might say that having a son with some extra challenges has created a soft spot in my heart for working with kids who have developmental delays or need a little bit of “outside the box” thinking to work with them. In my years of teaching piano lessons, I have worked with kids on the Autism Spectrum, children who struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and even one who had vision difficulties. Often times, these kids have tried piano lessons before and had a negative experience.  They have a teacher who is not willing to adjust expectations, or perhaps one who has labeled them a “bad kid” instead of understanding that the child’s brain might just be wired differently.

One of the things I love about being in a local music teachers association is the access to different events for students at my studio. Whether it’s a master class or a workshop, students are provided with lots of opportunities, thanks to the ideas, work and expertise of colleagues in my profession.

Several times a year, our group rents the recital hall at our university and hosts collaborative recitals. Students have opportunity to play on an absolutely incredible Steinway piano in a fabulous venue, a unique treat for them and their families.

Are you a member of a local teaching association, or do you have colleagues with whom you might consider hosting such a recital? Here’s why I think collaborative recitals are so great:

music money

So often, when talking to my music teacher colleagues, we lament how difficult it is to make a living as a music teacher. Teaching during after school hours each week day limits our working hours, and you can’t raise your rates every single year without driving yourself out of business!

So how do we as teachers make sure that we are maximizing our earning potential without exhausting ourselves? Here are some ideas to boost your music teaching salary…