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  • rachaelinwoodmusic

Wellbeing as a teacher

Being a private instrumental teacher can be a lonely business. Apart from seeing your students regularly, there are few opportunities to meet with colleagues. When I started as a private teacher, I could go for weeks without contact with like-minded professionals. There were even days when I wouldn't even see or speak to another adult in a non-work situation.

Connection with others doing a similar line of work is essential. There are issues that we all face running our business, whether that is working out the best way to find new students or how to deal with that "difficult" family. When you try to do things on your own, it's easy for things to feel bigger than they actually are. But as the old proverb says, "A problem shared is a problem halved" Having someone to share your problems with is an excellent thing. Especially if that person has some idea of what you are talking about. If you find another instrument teacher who may have had the same issues and can give you advice on what to do or not do to help with that issue. Sometimes this person may not have the answers; they may reply, "me too!" Sometimes that's all we need.

It took a while for me to find a group of colleagues to support me; this is how I did it. I joined online communities. The internet has been great at connecting with people around the world. You can join groups on Facebook that share a particular interest. Some of these are better than others. But once you find a supportive group, it can be an invaluable tool. Through these groups, I found some local piano teachers to me. We meet together regularly to chat about piano teaching issues. I have also gone to networking events, locally and nationally. Even though I hate networking, I have found them to be places that have been good to connect and share ideas. I have started working alongside other organisations and people on projects.

Another tool that I have found that has benefitted my well being is exercise. This has a bonus in that it has nothing to do with work, but I do believe it has helped me become a better musician as it has increased my stamina and strength. Apart from the health benefits, which I don't need to go into, it has significantly helped my mental health. Whenever I exercise, it's time for me; yes, it can be hard work. But I notice that I'm lifting heavier weights by regularly doing it. I'm running further and faster, making me feel like I'm achieving something. I enjoy lifting weights. When I'm lifting weight, my phone is nowhere near me. I have to focus on what I am doing. Otherwise, I could hurt myself. It's a form of mindfulness. It helps me to put aside all the problems that I'm experiencing. When I finish a session, I always feel better no matter how hard I find it. It's the same with running, it's time away from the office, outside, and even after a tough run, I always feel better. It's time to clear my head. It helps to relax me and get rid of some of the stress that I'm experiencing.

So my top tips to improve your wellbeing over this next year is to find some people who work in the same field that you can connect with regularly. Exercise more, get away from your studio and instrument, find a way to exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Make it a priori in your week. If you don't look after yourself, how can you give your best to your students and your family?

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