Do you remember when you first started teaching?
Excited, motivated to succeed, and optimistic, you grew into your role as a music teacher.
Thrilled for the opportunity to share something you love with the next generation, you quickly discovered how much you love teaching. Seeing your students develop into young artists, it was so wonderful.
But somehow, over the years, the challenges of being a professional music teacher have slowly worn away at the joy you used to feel.
Faced with a constant stream of difficult circumstances and frustratingly little support, you might have even considered quitting teaching — and you wouldn’t be alone. I’ve worked with dozens of music teachers who have walked right up to the precipice of quitting their jobs as music teachers.
So, if you’re ready to leave your job, step into another field, and start a new career, go for it!
But if you know, deep down, that teaching music is your *true calling* and you are desperate to find a way to make it work, keep reading!
By finding joy in each day, you can quickly reconnect with your deep love of teaching.
22 Moments to Enjoy as a Music Teacher
As we go about our busy lives, we often skip over the most joyful moments — taking them for granted or missing them completely.
What might happen if you challenged yourself to find as many joy-filled moments as possible in the upcoming week?
If, when a positive moment arises, you pause to acknowledge it and savor it (rather than ignoring it), I guarantee you will have a happier week.
Before long, you’ll notice that thrill of joyful teaching again. You’ll have more fun, feel more motivated, and teach in a more committed, impactful way.
Enjoy it when…
1. …your students don’t want to leave after rehearsal/class/their lessons.
It can feel like an annoyance when you have lots of work to do. But if your students love your teaching so much that they want to stick around for more, that speaks very highly of the positive impact you’re having on their lives! Still, it’s important to maintain boundaries and get your important work done — so smile as you shoo them off to their next class (or home to do their homework).
2. …something suddenly “clicks” for a student and they don’t even realize it.
These moments are really special. When a technique finally settles in after months of diligent work, it can feel like magic. Give yourself some credit for your work as a teacher and enjoy!
3. …something suddenly “clicks” for a student and they *do* realize it (and are so excited).
Celebration time! Congratulate your student and revel with them in the joy of their successful hard work. By pausing and genuinely emphasizing these positive moments, your students will build a library of positive experiences to remember when practicing gets tough.
4. …your students start using music jargon when speaking to other students.
It’s nerdy, but so fun…and it means that your students are learning the terms (assuming they use the jargon in a roughly-accurate way).
Here are a few real-life examples: “You’re walking too presto! Slow down!” “I can’t hear you…could you crescendo your voice?” “Accelerando! We’re going to be late!”
5. …a student comes back to thank you (or emails to tell you how important you were to them).
Many of us don’t realize how much of a positive impact we’re having on the lives of the students we work with. Even though our students cherish the time they spend in our classes and private studios, they may not tell us how important it was to them until much later in life.
Enjoy these special “thank you” moments – your students love you and are so grateful for your role in their lives.
6. …a student notices how good they sound.
How wonderful is it when they realize how much progress they’ve made? These opportunities offer us the chance to reinforce all the good work they’ve done.
7. …a student stays after class to share something important with you.
Whether they’ve had a musical breakthrough, a big win, or something major has happened in their non-music life, your student is showing how much they trust you and value the positive role you play in their life.
8. …for just a moment, your students sound like professionals.
Whether you’re teaching a private lesson or leading an ensemble, these moments may be rare…but they are so special! Enjoy these fleeting moments when they arrive. Know that even though your students won’t always sound so wonderful, these glimpses show that you’re doing great work.
9. …a parent tells you how important your class is for their child.
Remember that for every difficult parent relationship, there is a parent out there who is so grateful for the work you do. When a parent goes out of their way to thank you, know that there are 10 more who want to thank you, but haven’t gotten a chance to yet.
10. …your students keep singing their music, even after rehearsal has ended.
Your students are so excited to have music in their lives that they just want to keep the music going! They’re having fun with the music that you’re teaching them – what’s better than that?
11. …you can tell your student is genuinely enjoying making music.
On those days when your students are smiling non-stop during a lesson or rehearsal, know that you played a role in that joy – you have successfully shared your love of music-making with them!
12. …you take 5 minutes to have fun in rehearsal and it changes the vibe of the whole day (or week).
Many of us feel like we barely have enough time to rehearse. But what might happen if you took 5 minutes, once a week, to sing or play something just for fun? What if you had a (brief) dance party to a piece you’re working on? New Friday end-of-rehearsal tradition? Sounds like fun to me!
13. …you see one student teaching another student.
I dare you not to cry tears of joy. Who among us doesn’t get teary-eyed when our students love what they’re doing so much that *they* want to teach music too?
14. …a student asks to work on their most challenging piece because they love working on difficult music.
When students want a challenge, take the opportunity to push them (within reason, of course). They’ll feel surge of excitement that will keep them motivated to practice (hooray!).
15. …students burst into applause after a run-through because they’re excited that they performed at such a high level.
When your students start applauding themselves, you know you’ve created a positive environment focused on joyful music-making. Join them in applause and invite them to bring that kind of excitement to their next live performance.
16. …a student uses their musical skills to put together their own unique projects.
Whether a student uses their music knowledge to put together a compelling project in history class, or they analyze a literary work by using the narrative structure of a piece of music as an example, or they put together an arrangement of a piece they love – just for fun – these kinds of projects reveal a huge depth of creativity and genuine learning. Well done!
17. …a student practices a lot in a week, then comes to their lesson and tells you how much of a difference they’ve noticed!
This one needs no explanation. Your students are growing into their own best teachers when they start to discover the value of diligent, focused practice.
18. …you get to rehearse or perform a piece that *you love*.
We all have our favorite pieces. When you get to rehearse or perform one of your favorites, allow yourself to genuinely enjoy the experience – and share your love of that piece with your students!
19. …you collaborate with brilliant colleagues.
Whether you’re putting together a program with other music teachers in your area, creating a new project with colleagues in other artistic areas, or hosting a chamber music sight-reading party, have fun!
20. …you find out that music practice has helped a student in other areas of life.
Improved focus, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and listening skills are only a few of the crucial skills our students learn from us in music lessons.
When you hear that a student of yours has used the skills they learned from you to improve academically or in their personal life, rejoice! And if you’re teaching your students how to perform with poise and confidence, those skills will prove invaluable for the rest of their lives.
21. …you see smiling faces in the audience after a performance.
Your students are not the only ones who benefit from studying music with you. The parents, family, and friends of each of your students experience the enriching effects of music in their lives too – all thanks to your teaching.
22. …you realize how much of a positive impact you’re having on the world by guiding young musicians.
Every student you work with leaves your classes, lessons, and rehearsals with new skills that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives. Take pride in that fact. You do excellent, critically important work and I’m so glad you call yourself a music teacher.
Thanks to you, our global community will benefit from a new generation of young musicians.
Rediscover Your Love of Teaching
Taking the opportunity to experience joy in your life is crucial for your long-term success as a music educator.
Fortunately, little moments of joy go a long way. Rather than skipping over these fleeting moments, revel in them.
And if you’d like to organize your life in a way that prioritizes daily joy, you may be interested in “Overwhelmed to Organized,” a new online course (coming soon) for music teachers.
In this course, you will learn how to go from overwhelmed (with so many responsibilities on your plate that you find yourself constantly jumping from one thing to the next, barely accomplishing anything…) to mindfully organized (and able to confidently focus your attention on what’s most important, every day).
If you’d like to be the first to receive details about this course and receive a special offer when it launches, join the interest list here:
Too much to do and not enough time?
Get my free GEARS Planner for Highly Organized Music Teachers.
- Simplify Your Schedule
- Leave Overwhelm Behind
- Easily Prioritize Your Goals
- Create Time for Rest and Self-Care
- Get Your To-do List Under Control
Enter your email address to get your 7-Day GEARS Planner and create the sustainable, enjoyable daily schedule that you deserve.