The Role of Community: Building a Support System for Music Educator Moms

The Role of Community: Building a Support System for Music Educator Moms

The Role of Community: Building a Support System for Music Educator Moms

Being a music educator mom comes with its unique set of challenges. Balancing the demands of a teaching career, nurturing a family, and pursuing personal passions can be overwhelming. Let's explore the indispensable role of community in the life of a music educator mom and how building a strong support system can be a game-changer.

1. Connect with Fellow Music Educator Moms:

Reach out to other music educator moms in your local community or online. Sharing experiences, tips, and challenges with those who understand the intricacies of both music education and motherhood can be immensely comforting. Attend local events, join online forums, and foster connections that go beyond professional networking.

2. Create a Collaborative Learning Environment:

Establish a collaborative learning environment where music educator moms can exchange teaching strategies, resources, and creative ideas. This not only enriches your teaching methods but also creates a space for mutual growth and inspiration and is especially important for freelance teachers!

3. Organize Supportive Playgroups for Children:

Coordinate playgroups or activities where music educator moms can bring their children. This not only provides an opportunity for your kids to interact and play but also allows you to bond with other teacher moms. Building these connections can lead to shared childcare responsibilities, easing the load for everyone involved! 

4. Attend Professional Development Workshops Together:

Explore professional development opportunities tailored for music educators. Attend workshops or conferences together to enhance your teaching skills and stay updated on industry trends. Sharing these experiences with other music educator moms can foster a sense of professional camaraderie while also allowing our shared knowledge and experience to bolster one another. We're better together!

5. Establish a Virtual Support Network:

In today's digital age, geographical distances should not hinder connections. Create a virtual support network through social media groups or messaging apps, or join Freelance Music Teacher Moms already set up! This platform can serve as a quick resource for advice, encouragement, and a virtual shoulder to lean on during challenging times.

Navigating the intersection of music education and motherhood is undoubtedly a complex journey. By actively building a community of like-minded individuals, you not only enrich your professional life but also create a valuable support system that understands and celebrates the unique challenges and triumphs of being a music educator mom. Together, we can combine professional and personal life, creating a space for both support and encouragement.

How to Set Boundaries and Avoid Burnout in Your Freelance Teaching Journey

How to Set Boundaries and Avoid Burnout in Your Freelance Teaching Journey

How to Set Boundaries and Avoid Burnout in Your Freelance Teaching Journey

Embarking on a freelance teaching journey can be an exhilarating yet challenging transition, especially when balancing the demands of a career, motherhood, and attempting time for self-care. If you find yourself in a whirlwind of exhaustion and uncertainty, you're not alone. If you're a music teacher mom who dreams of breaking free from the hamster wheel of a 9-5, pursuing her passion for music, and creating a thriving freelance business, keep reading. Let's delve into practical strategies for setting boundaries and steering clear of burnout in this exciting new chapter that I wish I knew sooner!

1. Define Your Priorities:

Begin by identifying your core priorities. As a mom, your family's well-being is probably at the top of the list. Allocate time for your children, partner, and yourself. Recognize that it's okay to prioritize your needs alongside your professional pursuits, even if some of your professional pursuits do line up at times with something you need to prioritize for yourself. I know I am a much better mom because I work 2 days/week!

2. Establish Clear Work Hours:

Freelancing often blurs the lines between work and personal life. Set specific work hours to create a clear boundary between your professional and family life. Communicate these hours with your clients and stick to them as closely as possible. Dedicate uninterrupted time to your family when you're having family time rather than getting pulled away by work emails or other obligations. Utilizing tech tools like a scheduler have REALLY helped me with this!

3. Delegate and Seek Support:

Recognize that you can't do everything alone! This was a hard one for me at first but has made a world of a difference. Delegate tasks both at home and in your business. Whether it's hiring a virtual assistant, seeking help with household chores, or involving your partner in childcare responsibilities... building a support system for your family and your business to run efficiently and effectively is crucial.

4. Prioritize Self-Care:

Fulfilling your role as a music teacher, mom, and freelancer requires a healthy and energized you. Schedule regular self-care activities, whether it's a short walk, meditation, or indulging in a hobby (my current one is homemade yogurt with this starter and sourdough! Haha) Taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. If you're noticing you're dealing with more fatigue, sleep issues, irritability, or sluggishness than normal, perhaps consider trying out the 11 Day Jumpstart to lower chronic inflammation. It helped me SO much!

5. Set Up Systems for Success:

Freelancing can be unpredictable, but setting realistic and achievable goals as well as creating efficient systems to accomplish those goals is key to maintaining balance. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks, allowing you to celebrate victories along the way. If you need help with organization of your personal life and business while still living in the unpredictability of family life and creativity (I found after becoming a mom, I really needed someone to guide me in this aspect), I have an amazing friend named Danelle Fowler who is available for 1-1s to drill down on this with you. You can reserve a time on her schedule here!


Which of these practical strategies for setting boundaries and steering clear of burnout do you think you most need to implement for yourself? Come chat about it in Freelance Music Teacher Moms as we figure out this delicate balance of creative work and family life!

Can I teach music without a degree?

Can I teach music without a degree?
Can I teach music without a degree?

This is a great question! The very short answer is YES.

The long answer requires asking some more questions, such as...

  • Are you referring to having no music degree or to having any undergraduate degree?
  • What setting are you wanting to teach in?
  • What kind of music are you wanting to teach?
  • What time of day are you wanting to teach?
  • What type of students are you wanting to teach?
  • What background knowledge to do already have as credentials?
These are some of the first questions you'd need to answer in order to answer the initial question. For example, I teach a few homeschool choirs (which are bursting at the seams, I almost need to start another one to keep up with the demand!). I have a music education degree, but would not need to have a degree in order to conduct these choirs. I do have some experience and great classroom management techniques as well in order to be successful at managing large groups of elementary through high school age singers in a choral context. So depending on your background knowledge and experience, that may be more important than the degree itself in being able to do the work successfully.

What time of day and type of students are you wanting to teach? If you want to teach private lessons and do that full-time, you will likely need to have evening and weekend availability, something that I myself did not want for my family and work rhythms. I only teach a handful of private lessons for this reason, and currently most of my private students are homeschooled so that they are available during the daytime hours for their lessons.

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Hopefully considering a few of these factors helps in answering the question, "Can I teach music without a degree?" for you. If this was valuable and you'd like more guidance in considering these options as you want to start a music business, I offer coaching for those wanting to begin in either a part-time or full-time capacity (my own business is part-time hours but the income is full-time level due to how I've structured it). And we have a support group with resources for those interested which you can find here too!

5 Music Teacher Tools that Will Blow Your Mind

5 Music Teacher Tools that Will Blow Your Mind
Here are 5 tools I use weekly as a Music Teacher that will blow your mind!


1) Hoberman Sphere! A fun toy that I use to work on deep breathing for singing (and works well to have a calm moment with a rowdy class if needed too!). I like to have students takes turns leading the group in how fast or slow we will take those breaths and pick someone breathing silently to go next.

2) A microphone! I like felt ones personally but have also used this sparkly one that my students love as well. Great for turn taking, a talking piece for classes that interrupt one another a lot, or solo moments. I use the Feierabend First Steps in Music with my younger classes, so there are lots of opportunities for solo singing!

3) Claves or another instrument that you can use to keep a steady beat. A great alternative to your voice, a metronome, or clapping! My middle schoolers love playing a game called Pass the Beat Around the Room while I keep the beat with the claves.

4) A new song resource, like this global music resource, for teaching new songs! I have SO many favorites -- should I do a blog post just of those?

5) Pitch Pipe! Very useful for anywhere you don't have a piano, to get a pitch quickly and accurately. My students think it sounds funny, but function over funny is my motto with this one. ;)


There you have it! I have so many toys and tools that I use all the time, should I do another post of more? What tools do you use all the time in your teaching? I'd love to hear!



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Feel like you could use some direction in how to set up classes, how to price classes for your area and market them, or what to teach when? These topics and so much more we cover in 1-1 music leadership coaching! You can learn more about that here.

3 Summertime Income Streams for Music Teachers (That are NOT Teaching Lessons)

3 Summertime Income Streams for Music Teachers (That are NOT Teaching Lessons)
I know, I know...

Every music teacher out there asks, 'How can I make extra income during the summer and/or during the school year?' We don't get paid enough, or maybe we're even bored during the summer not making any music (is this possible?!?). Or we just want to make some extra spending money to do fun things with the kids (raises hand -- I just went strawberry picking with my 8mo and it was a blast!).

But maybe you don't like teaching lessons or you don't want to deal with the schedules around vacations and hassle of that, etc...

So, here are 3 income streams (you can start today!) that are NOT teaching private lessons:

#1 Affiliate Marketing -- you can share about stuff that you like and use (teaching related or not!) with your friends and make income from it. Your friends aren't charged more for it; the companies who use affiliate marketing are spending their marketing budget on this instead of on billboards and ads because it WORKS. I learned how to do it well without feeling salesy from my business mentor, you can check out her course all about it here! And it doesn't take much time, you can work it around naptime or other busy schedules of life.

#2 Baby Music Classes! There are SO many moms out there who are looking for cheap & fun things to do with their littles, especially first time moms (haha, that was/is me!) who are looking to meet people. Find a park and teach a baby music class for moms and their littles! Need help with marketing? Happy to help, I've coached people through this process so they get more turn-out for their classes without having to go through community education and plan WAY in advance or charge a LOT because they have fees. Tip? As long as your parks don't have rules around renting space in the summer, you can just find a local park to teach your class and have a rain date if needed!

#3 Coaching/Consulting -- are you an expert in a certain topic (could be music or otherwise) that you could help people with? Maybe you have a hobby that you'd love to teach people how to do. You can walk them through that step by step with a coaching program (live or evergreen or a combo)! This is just a tiny sliver, tip-of-the-iceberg tip from the massive signature program that is HBR (Home Based Revolution), the multiple income stream course & coaching program by my own business mentor. Check it out here (& reach out for a massive discount code if you're interested!).

Hope these 3 options get your creative juices flowing and get you rolling making some cash for summertime fun (or even more)! I could make $1500 in 4 hrs once I structured things correctly. If you'd like help structuring something like this to fit your needs, check out coaching here.

Considering becoming self-employed but you're a planner and want to look at how budgeting and the money side of things might look? I made a tips list that was stuff I wish I'd known before diving into the self-employed world, things I learned myself work best. Check it out here!

Myths About Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1

Myths About Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1
There are a lot of myths about teaching music freelance that I've heard from my coaching clients and others that I am going to debunk in a new blog series, so here it goes. :)

Myths about Teaching Freelance Debunked, Part 1

#1 If I want to teach freelance, I have to teach private lessons.

Nope! I do teach a couple private lessons (currently I only have 4 private students), but that is not the bulk of what I do. Mostly, I teach choirs (3 different groups) and elementary music classes during the day!

#2 If I want to teach private lessons, I have to give up my evenings and weekends.

Also no! All of the lessons I've taught from my home as a self-employed individual have been during the day. Occasionally I'll offer makeup lessons on a Saturday or an evening, but all of my lessons (at one point I had 13 private lesson students) have been during the day. How do I find students to fit this need? Homeschoolers, retired folks, and online students in other time zones are the three easiest ways, in my experience.

#3 Self-employed people pay double taxes.

While I am no tax expert (so don't take my comments as advice, just my own experience!), I have never paid double in taxes because I am self-employed. There are SO MANY things we can deduct by being self-employed that my taxes are no worse than someone who is an employee, and I have free control of my schedule, work part-time with full-time pay, and don't have nearly the amount unnecessary paperwork or meetings as employed people do. To me, the perks are worth it!

If you'd like more budgeting 101 for self-employed music teacher tips, you can grab that here. I'm all about saving you time where I had to learn the long way through living it. :)

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If this was helpful for you and you'd like to stay tuned for part 2, you can join my free group where we talk about this kind of thing all the time. I post the blogs, informative videos, and discount codes to my coaching & courses here.

How to Keep Track of Your Students/Clients Without Losing Your Mind

How to Keep Track of Your Students/Clients Without Losing Your Mind
When I first started teaching music outside of the public school system, I was so disorganized with how I kept track of student/client contact information and interested leads who hadn't yet signed up for classes but wanted more details sent to them in the future.

I had little slips of paper everywhere... or a page in a random notebook with email and phone contact info, but I misplaced these things frequently and was horrible at following through on sending people the info they'd asked for.

This was a huge part of what was holding me back from being successful -- just staying organized. Until I created a system for keeping track of these important pieces of data in a way that was duplicatable and that I could keep up with.

Win!

Here's my 3-Step System:

1) Collect contact information in a consistent way. Don't do it on paper one time and in a spreadsheet another time and your CRM system (here's what I use as my all-in-one system) a third time and your email contacts a fourth time! Be consistent so that you always know where to find the info you're looking for. Once I stopped changing it up all the time, I didn't spend wasted energy and time looking for someone's contact info.

2) Use tags to organize people's contact info. Chances are, you teach multiple types of classes or lessons. I utilize tags in my CRM to keep track of what people were giving me their contact info for so that I don't waste time or brain space trying to remember what they needed. I can also quickly shoot an email to my whole tagged list for a specific interest that way with just the click of a button. Win!

3) Use landing pages to seamlessly send collect people's contact info and send them the information they were interested in! If I'm participating in a fair of sorts or have a booth at a homeschool convention or somewhere, having a place for people to enter their info in exchange for me sending them the info they requested automatically (without me having to manually enter anything) saves SO much time and ensures that they receive the info they asked for without human error of my forgetfulness or busy-ness.

If you're not familiar with the idea or verbiage of a landing page, here's an example. I have created a list of self-employed music teacher budgeting tips that I wish I'd had when I was just starting out. If you'd like to have it, you can grab it here. The process of entering your info in exchange for the specific list I mentioned is what I'm describing above. If you don't have a way to seamlessly do this with your offerings, I encourage you to find a CRM/landing page/email campaign system that allows you to do this. It saves SO much time and energy on my end and frees me up to do the fun stuff -- making music! Here's what I use for mine if you need a recommendation.


How do you keep track of client/student contact info?

3 Toys I Use to Teach Musical Concepts to Young Children

3 Toys I Use to Teach Musical Concepts to Young Children
As a music teacher, I love to use toys and props in my homeschool early childhood music classes and lessons to help children learn musical concepts. It is so much fun to see their creativity, and it's always an added bonus if they have that toy at home already that they can go home and use musically.


Here are my top 3 favorites! Let me know if you try these out in your home or classroom!



1) Pop-up Squirrels

These pop-up squirrels are so much fun! They're a great fidgety-type toy to give your hands something to do, but I love using them with my squirrel songs. I have multiple squirrel songs, but my favorite one to use with this toy is Peep Squirrel (here's a demonstration video in case you don't know the song). I find that having a prop or toy helps young children stay engaged in the song for many more repetitions of the song than if I just sang it alone, allowing their ears to hear the song more times and sing it way more accurately once they do! I usually pass this toy around the circle and sing it myself while they keep the beat. Then another day, I will have them sing the song while they pop the squirrel on the beat.

2) Hoberman Sphere

The hoberman sphere is often called a breathing ball, and I enjoy using it to teach young children what their lungs are doing when they breathe! It's a great way to start off a children's choir rehearsal, or to use with any class if children got a bit wild in the middle as a way to reset and regroup. I like having students take turns opening and closing it; I always pick students who are demonstrating a specific skill I would like to see (ie low diaphragmatic breathing or silent breaths).

3) Googly Eye Rings

I just love using these googly eye rings for vocal exploration or Arioso (if you're familiar with Feierabend's First Steps in Music)! You can get them in different sizes (like these big ones here) but I find this size to be the best for little fingers. I like to call mine hummers and have the children make humming sounds with them. They are SO willing to sing on their own if they have a fun toy/prop in hand to do it with! They'll even have musical conversations and make up tunes together with these little guys. I always buy the 100 pack because they're tiny and we lose them easily. :P



Well, there you have it! My top 3 favorites. Which one are you going to try or have you tried and really liked?

For more helpful music class ideas and freelance music teacher tips, join the community here!

How to Be a Successful Music Teacher as a Highly Sensitive Person, Part 2

How to Be a Successful Music Teacher as a Highly Sensitive Person, Part 2
This blog post is part 2 of a series, to read part 1, click here. :)

4. Give yourself grace.

I am generally more comfortable around children than adults, with the exception of my core group of friends and church community. It turns out that it’s easy for me to be “in front of” 120 children directing a concert or 30 children in class, but I get nervous talking with a parent or family. The irony makes me laugh, but it also shows me that I am making the most of my strengths and giving myself grace to work on the things that are harder for me.

As a teacher, you’re in a role where your HSP strengths are extra valuable. Don’t get too hung up on the parts of it where you feel out of your comfort zone.

5. Create a “stage persona” for stressful situations.

Not every highly sensitive person is a performer (some would dread it!), but most of us are creative in some way — which is a gift we can draw on in overwhelming situations. In my case, I use my ability as a performer to step into a “stage persona” when needed for my job.

My persona is still me (I’m not creating a false personality or anything), but I’m able to confidently step into that “role” even when my body or mind is on overdrive. It helps to center me and lets me address the overarousal when I cannot take a break or escape the situation immediately. And now that I teach freelance instead of public school full-time, I rarely need this persona now.

I believe any highly sensitive person can do this. Imagine what your “teaching persona” would look like, if there was someone cast in your role on a TV show or in a book or play. How do they talk? How do they act? What’s their signature phrase or look? Maybe even give your stage persona a name, and consciously remind yourself that that’s who you are when you’re feeling overstimulated.

6. When things get tough, lean on your support system.

My first semester, I cried in my principal’s office at least four times. I was so grateful that she saw these instances not as weakness, but as a sensitive personality that can be an asset to taking care of students in our school.

I’m also grateful that my husband understands when I need 15 minutes to “decompress” when I first arrive home from work, and he gladly creates that space. He also knows that if I’ve been home alone all day (spring break!) I will usually be excited, chatty, and ready to go out or do something fun with him.

Not all of us have such supportive, understanding people built into our lives, but it’s important to seek them out — or learn how to speak up for our needs with loved ones. Especially when you’re in a profession where you have to nurture others, you need your own support system in place. Know who you can turn to, and don’t hesitate to open up to them when you’re stressed. They may be the difference between burnout and success. This is why I created Freelance Music Teacher Moms -- to be just that kind of space for people. Come join us, if it would bless you to be surrounded by these kinds of awesome educators.

7. Adapt your environment to fit your needs.
I don’t play music in my classroom as loudly as some students would probably like it, but my students who are HSPs would thank me for that decision! Likewise, my classroom has two banks of fluorescent lighting, but I only ever use one set. (Often, I turn the lights off altogether and use the window or strings of lights to create the atmosphere I need to work well, or light covers like these.) And I definitely don’t give twenty-five kindergarteners each a triangle all at once, even though it is music class. I’ve learned to teach differently so that all the students are engaged even if just one or two of them have a triangle.

The list goes on and on. My biggest breakthrough personally is to schedule concert nights, when possible, the night before a “non-student” day, like professional development or a grading day. These are my personal adaptations — but it’s essential for any highly sensitive person who’s going to teach to find ways to adapt like this.

Much of your arc as a teacher will involve continuously modifying your environment from a hectic one to a soothing, creative one. The result will not just make your days easier, it will also improve what your students get out of it, whether they are an HSP themselves or not.

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I hope you found these tips helpful! Let me know below which one you're looking forward most to implementing in your own teaching.

Like what you read here? You can catch more good content on my YouTube channel here or grab the planning concert considerations checklist here.

How to Be a Successful Music Teacher as a Highly Sensitive Person, Part 1

Being a highly sensitive person or HSP as a music teacher isn't necessarily a walk in the park; it comes with some challenges for sure. But it can be done well and you can thrive as a music teacher HSP! I know because I am. :) Check out these tips below or watch here to get you started on thriving rather than feeling so overwhelmed:


Let me paint you a picture of my life a few years ago. My first music class comes into my classroom at 9:30 a.m., talkative and full of energy. We are ready to begin our fun but hard work for the day of becoming tune-ful, beat-ful, and art-ful people. I have a 30-year plan for my students: to be able to sing to their own children one day, to clap on a steady beat at a ball game or concert, and to be moved by expressive music in all sorts of contexts. My students experience the joy, the seriousness, the hard work, and the playfulness of music, and I consider it a great joy to accompany them on the journey.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I also consider it an exhausting vocation. I work with more than 500 children total: 10 half-hour classes per day with around 200 K-4th grade children. On my feet the whole time, every day, five days a week.

Not sure what an HSP is or if you are one? Learn more here.

When my last class of the day walks out of my classroom, I sit briefly before bus duty and I sigh, always worn out but some days more encouraged than others. I might have more energy in the evening if I had a regular desk job, or perhaps a job that is less emotionally and physically taxing. Sometimes, I envy those jobs. But I don’t believe I would feel as fulfilled as I do knowing the impact I am making on the young people at my school.

Here’s why highly sensitive people like me are drawn to teaching — despite the overstimulation — and how I don't just survive but thrive.

Why Highly Sensitive People are Drawn to Caring Professions Like Teaching

Not all teachers are highly sensitive, and not all highly sensitive people are teachers. But I do believe that we HSPs are drawn to caring, nurturing, and creative professions like education. I’ve personally met countless other teachers who are sensitive (and some who are not...) and I think there’s a reason for it. Highly sensitive people tend to love students of all ages, learning, and helping others. In some ways, teaching fits us like a glove.

That doesn’t mean we’re necessarily well-suited to the environment of the classroom — in fact, my first semester teaching was awful. I struggled to balance my work and home life. Many of my students came into the classroom dealing with trauma of their own, and took it out on me. (This still happens, though each school is different.) I didn’t feel at all equipped to handle it. Honestly, I cried on the way home from school most days, and I'm not even much of a crier for being an HSP, I just had no other way to express the overwhelm I felt.

But I believe that highly sensitive people can overcome these challenges. In fact, I think our empathy, our creativity, and our awareness of others’ feelings help make us especially valuable in roles like teaching.

And I’ve learned a few strategies and ideas to make it much easier.

7 Ways to Succeed as a Teacher When You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

1. Learn to let go when your lessons don’t go as planned.

In my desire to do everything really well, I struggled a lot my first semester. Most things in education don’t go “as planned.” I learned that it’s more important how I respond when things don’t go as planned than IF they go as planned. This realization (which can be applied to most things in life) will take a lot of pressure off of you and allow you to be a better listener and educator.

2. Give yourself permission to say no.

It’s okay to have a day to eat lunch by yourself at work (even if you feel weird at first for not joining your coworkers in the staff lunchroom). It’s okay to build in “down” weekends to rest. It’s okay to stay home for an evening or two during conference week or concert week. It’s okay to not get another “real job” during the summers (in my case, I do odd jobs and plan for the next school year, teach music lessons, and teach occasional community education classes). Your body and your loved ones will thank you in the long run.

3. Your empathy is the superpower your students need.

There are many students who struggle in louder, chaotic, collaborative spaces like a music classroom. It’s more unstructured and less predictable, and that can be over-arousing for me as well as many of my students (whether or not they’re highly sensitive).

As highly sensitive people, our ability to say, “I see you, I understand you, and I am with you” — even while challenging them to grow and take risks — is a game-changer! It helps them confront their challenges without shame or self-doubt.

Our empathy also means we need to be gentle with ourselves. For example, you may struggle with secondary trauma when you see the hurt some of your students go through, or experience it yourself when they lash out. Being able to recognize your feelings not as being weak but as caring helps separate their pain from your own, and be a little more resilient on days when you struggle.

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Click here for part 2 of this series!
 
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