Story time with Craig today. I taught lessons on the side of my church music jobs for 18 and a half years. Finally in 2020, I decided that I would make the leap out of church music to doing something else. My degree is in music education, so going back to teaching was a thought, but what really intrigued me (and scared me to death) was stepping up my lesson business to full time. The pandemic hit, so I dove in to teaching online, which was a huge learning process, but I enjoyed it. I was building up a good number of students, and ramping up to the fall of 2020, when an opportunity to direct choirs part time came up. It was a good experience, but it only lasted 1 year. So, again, last summer, I started building up a good number of students. The fall came, and all of a sudden, I’m only down to 11 lessons a week. That’s far from full time. I started doing Door Dash to come up with the shortfall. I was frustrated and questioning why I made the decision I did.
But then, in December and January, more and more students signed up. I got to 31 students this past semester. And these students are fantastic! They are willing to learn, put in time to practice, are excited about music and learning, and it has reminded me of why I wanted to go this route of full time teaching. My students regularly make me laugh, surprise me with the questions they ask and the things they say. For example, I had a student tell me yesterday that he named his books! What did he name them? “Bruce Willis” and “Dwayne the Rock Johnson”. And he told me that after talking about having a summer pot-luck. I asked him how many pot-lucks he had already had and he’s had none. Hilarious stuff! It’s about music, but so much more. It’s about relationships.
One of the things that I’ve learned over the past year is that my background in church music ministry has helped prepare me for this. Music is about relationships and connections, just like church music ministry is. It’s not just the relationships with the students, though. It’s also about the relationships with parents. Because without the parents, the students aren’t getting to their lessons, getting their lessons paid for, So, it’s my responsibility to make sure that I am effectively communicating with parents, something also learned from church music ministry.
It’s been amazing to get to the end of this semester and look back at the journey I’ve been on. I know that I still have room to improve as a teacher and in communications, running my business and more. But the biggest thing that I am thankful for more than I can say is my students and their families. They have blessed and encouraged me far more than I could for them. And every day, I wake up excited to teach and excited for what will come for each lesson. This means that my work isn’t work. It’s joy. And it’s because of my students and their families.