This is my first post on MusicTeachersHelper. I have benefitted so much from the expertise and great ideas of my fellow teachers, that I find it more than a bit intimidating to add my own contribution! I hope you will bear with me as I find my “voice”, and share some of my own experiences and discoveries over the past 25 years of teaching and helping students of all ages to find their own voice.
One factor that I have found important throughout my career, is the quality of my work environment, in both efficiency and esthetics. I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to freshen my studio space and make it as beautiful and as comfortable as possible for myself and my clients. No matter where I am, whether the corner of my carpeted living room with boxes for books (my first years) to a lovely dedicated loft space with soaring ceilings, to the living/music room that is my present studio, I want it to be a place that I enjoy going to.
Some of the factors that I believe add up to a welcoming working environment are:
Natural Light: Although at times this can be difficult to achieve, due to budget or other limitations, it is a factor to consider when choosing a teaching space.
Clutter Control: Whenever possible, I like to have storage that tucks messes out of sight. If your living room is also your studio, being able to close off that constant reminder of work obligations when you are not actually working, is a great stress reliever. Instead of a file basket, I try to use a wicker lidded basket. If I don’t see the paper, I am not constantly being nagged by the feeling of “I should get to that”.
Organization: Although some disorder seems to be a natural consequence of a creative mind, I find I work much better when I have a system that gives everything a “home”. I found a beautiful roomy armoire on Kijiji for $150.00.(for my American colleagues think Craigslist) It is a lovely piece of furniture that stands in the corner of the living room next to the piano. It holds a printer, reference books, sight singing manuals, ear training booklets, graded song series, and various music binders by song type. The inside of the doors provide a surface to mount posters, announcements and reminders, and can be closed up at the end of lessons, leaving the space looking more like a living room again. (Of course an electric piano, upright piano, and bookcase full of music reveal the true nature of the space).
Decor: Curtains are not necessary, of course, but I enjoy searching for the perfect fabric to coordinate with my large area rug. A comfy wicker armchair with matching cushions, a wooden filing cabinet that doubles as a coffee table, and art and photos, complete the room. None of this needs to cost a great deal of money. Great bargains can be found at home discount stores, online sales sites, and the clearance aisles of fabric stores.
My space is an evolving entity. Just as teaching techniques need periodic infusions of variety, so physical space needs to be tweaked. Fresh space, helps to generate fresh thoughts. A beautiful space lends itself to making beautiful music.