studio organization

I really enjoy having the option to send out lesson notes after a lesson through the Music Teacher’s Helper website. I find this is a great way to recap a lesson, reiterate the main theme of that lesson, and to remind me of what occurred in the student’s previous lesson, as the notes appear on my daily summary. As I teach solidly with very few breaks in between lessons, I keep a notebook on my piano that I jot notes into for lesson notes. When I sit down at my computer (sometimes that evening, and often times the next morning) I have a reference to go to on what happened at a student’s lesson and what comments I would like them to take away from that lesson.

When creating lesson notes each week, I always try to touch on something positive that happened in the lesson. Sometimes that may be as small as “Nice job being on time three weeks in a row!” or as large as “Great improvement! You are on to a new level!” I also have my students keep a “Voice Notebook” that I write in, as well as they write in. [···]

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In a perfect world, teachers are as organized as they are knowledgeable. They recall information on a whim, and memorize every appointment. Their work spaces are immaculate, their shoes impeccably shined, and composure is written all over their face even under the most stressful of days.

But here in the real world, we teachers are usually not as organizationally refined. I’m even willing to go out on a limb and say that music teachers, at least the honest ones, are naturally faulted in this and predisposed to a free-spirited chaotic side.

Let’s face it: We’re artists. We’re creative, we’re passionate, and detail management is not exactly our forte. I will be the first to admit that I am the epitome of disorganization.

Allow me paint you a mental picture of my teaching studio, as it was 4 months ago…  [···]

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A colleague of mine recently asked me how I managed to keep all of my music organized. We both play in several bands, do subbing work, and teach high student loads. In addition, I teach group classes and workshops.

I asked her what system she was currently using. She laughed and said each “project” had it’s own stack of music somewhere in her house. Sometimes they were in binders, sometimes they were lying on the bedroom floor. Her husband, a well respected drummer, has his teaching materials and drum magazines organized in a few Rubbermaid containers near his drum set.

I told her that most of my music had made it into binders, (and I spent hours organizing the music in those binders). Between binders, trade magazines, and books, my apartment had filled with nine bookshelves (to hold all that bulk) over the years. Plus there are two filing cabinets and various file boxes, both in my office and in my storage unit.  I also have a closet in my bedroom with boxes of papers I still have to sort from another music studio I once worked at.  There’s a shelf with binders of music from bands I had subbed with…just in case I got another phone call to fill in.  Problem is, each binder just sits on a shelf as they wait for the call, taking up space. Space I could use for…instruments. Hmmm. We’ve got a problem here.

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