Barely Breathing

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I have been teaching piano for all of two weeks, now. And I feel like I need to come up for air.

I had forgotten how busy life can be. I had forgotten what it was like to have regular commitments.

It is a lot of work keeping your house guest-ready for three out of seven days a week, when you have little tornadoes capable of destroying the calm zen of a tidy room in point-zero-three seconds flat.

To bulk up the work load (as if I needed that!), I am basically creating my own "primer level" for the older beginners among my students (which 90% of them are), so this is adding several more hours a week. Also, when I was teaching before, it was for a studio, and all the accounting paperwork was looked after for me--all I had to do was deposit my paycheque every two weeks.

Being a "self-employed teacher" now, I am making more per lesson, but not per hour when I factor in the amount of time spent on books and lesson plans and creating theory sheets.

"Down through another stroke, picking up speed as we go, rising up the other side--higher every time. Inertia slows, until we hang there, seemingly suspended in air at the peak of the stroke, then we are plunging back down, in free-fall. My knuckles get whiter."

I was referring to a different aspect of my life when I wrote this a few weeks ago, but right now, as I go speeding along in my life, with the G-force winds making my cheeks flap unbecomingly and my eyeballs fight to stay in their sockets, I am feeling

*gasping, gulping*

a little


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  1. Hi. I'm not sure if I've commented before, but I've been following your blog for a while (I esp. like your recipes and health stuff!). I was just wondering what you charge for your lessons. I teach the drumset out of my home, adn have been off and on for several years. (I have 2 small kids too, and feel your pain about keeping things presentable and trying to keep the kids occupied during lessons.) I write all of my own lessons, individualized for each student every week, make cds for them and work around their schedules. And I'm only charging $7.50 for a half hour lesson. Is that completely outrageous? I figure that way, if I have to deal with a screaming kid for a second, they won't get so upset. But I do find that I don't look forward to lessons as much, b/c I'm charging so little. Just curious what your thoughts are, since you seem to be in the same boat as me!! Thanks!

  2. It's fall, Talena. You gotta expect the craziness. Wait'll the kids are in school and in "stuff". Whoa... No, don't think about it yet.

    Every fall I get exhausted. Can't get enough sleep when usually I don't need much and used to go to the doctor to make sure nothing was "wrong" till I realized it's just the craziness.

    You'll get used to the pace soon, girl. Till then hang in!


  3. Breathe in.....breathe out.....breathe in.......breathe out!!
    This too shall pass away!!
    Love you!

  4. I don't think my house has been guest ready for over a year now! It doesn't help that the builder of our new apartment has been promising us possession 'next month' since May. Any energy or motivation I might have had is shot to bits...

  5. I have the funniest picture of you now thanks to that vivid description. :D It was fun to read but it sounds like it's a whirlwind to go through! Are you hanging in there? Are you enjoying it? Are you glad you're doing it?

    Much love to you through this particular tornado.

  6. Sorry for the late response, everyone! Been super-busy the last couple of days!

    Dixie - Yes, you've commented before. Sorry for not posting so much for health stuff, etc., recently, but those posts usually take more time due to the research involved, and time has been a bit scarce, lately. I am hoping to get my chicken stock recipe up, soon, though!

    $7.50?!!! Holy, that's low. Did you check what the going rate is where you live?

    I charge $14 for a half an hour. The local (one-and-only) drum teacher charges $25 for a half hour. He also records his students, etc., as he owns a recording studio and it's very easy for him to do.

    Also, I guess it depends how in-demand you are. I decided before I started teaching what nights I would teach, for what hours. I have a little bit of flexibility, but since I am the teacher, I decide when I am going to teach. My students can work around my schedule, or find another teacher.

    You might be farther ahead to charge more and hire a babysitter, or set it at a time when your spouse can be home to watch the kids, as I did. And if you are writing your own lessons, you should definitely be charging more, or charging a separate fee for lesson materials. I do not know what kind of drum lesson materials there are already published, but it may ease your load if you can find a good program to work through with your students, instead of doing it ALL yourself. I am only "doing my own thing" for the primer level, as I do not like the primers available for piano when starting a slightly older beginner. After that, it's by the book for me!

    Hope this gave you some good food for thought.

    Vicki - Yah. Can't even imagine once fall means school starting too. We are starting Jude in a children's program once a week next week, so that will be interesting.

    I hope your life is settling down a titch, now that the initial "Back-to-school" rush is over. Are your kids still on year-round schooling?

    Hugs and kisses!

    Mom - "Wax on - wax off." Reminds me of Karate Kid! Good advice, though. Thanks.

    Rohini - Grrr. I hate it when people don't keep to their own deadlines! Especially when it leaves you in limbo--limbo sucks. So been there. I hope that "next month" becomes "this month" sooner than later. In the meantime, remember that people come to see you, not your house. I'm just happy if the bathroom mirror is clean, the toilet has no nasty yellow spots on it, and the living room floor is relatively clutter-free of toys. After kids, I found my "guest-ready" standards slipped a little.

    Colleen - Every time you leave me a comment, I always feel like you just gave me a hug. Sigh. It's so nice having a friend like you.

    Surviving, and yes, enjoying it, too. It's just taking a bit to get used to. I have a few students who are really talented, and it is kind of exciting to think that I will get to have a small part in shaping that talent. I think that's the most rewarding part of teaching--that and watching the self-confidence of a kid grow as they master these new skills.

    You could probably be a piano teacher, couldn't you? That is, if you didn't have to work your brains out at a retail store 6 days a week! Gotta love owning your own busines, eh? I know that has it's rewards, too. And eventually, I'm sure you'll be able to find your brains lying around in a back isle somewhere and restore them to their proper location! ;-) Love ya.


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