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3 Ways to Simplify Your Music Teacher Life

Jan 18, 2022 | Tips and Tricks for Music Teachers

You’re overwhelmed. You’re tired. You’re over the crazy schedule. And it’s only January! As a frazzled, overworked general music teacher myself, I know exactly what you’re going through. So what’s a tired out music teacher to do?? Today I’m going to share 3 ways that you can simplify your music teacher life, and still get ALL.THE.THINGS done.

Teachers are busy. We have faculty meetings and hall duty, choir rehearsal and after school guitar lessons, classes all day and afternoon bus ramp. There’s no real time to plan and forget about coffee with friends. By the time you get home, all you want to do is relax on the couch with an adult beverage and a Hallmark movie (or the latest Spiderman for you Marvel fans)! I’m with you teacher. That’s why I’m sharing some ways to simplify your music teacher life, so you can feel less exhausted and maybe a bit less stressed out. Ready?

  1. Let someone else help you teach – I don’t know about you, but my voice gets tired, and by the time I get to Tuesday, I’m sick of saying the same thing over, and over, and over. I’ve discovered that if I let someone else teach even 5 or 10 minutes of my lesson, I can save my voice and save my sanity. What do I mean by this? Well, if you search on YouTube, you can find teachers who are happily reading storybooks aloud, teaching clapping games, and doing all things movement just for you and your students. The idea is to plan your activities for the week and then find a really great teacher video to help you out with some of the instructions. Don’t feel guilty. I’m giving you permission to take this step.
  2. Invest in a comprehensive curriculum – Are you doing ALL.THE.THINGS? Do you feel like you’re constantly scrambling to find or create new activities for your students? That’s how I always felt, until my county adopted a terrific curriculum. If you don’t already have a great curriculum, there are many reasons to find one that’s right for you. Here are just a few:
    • Having a curriculum to work with is the best way to stay organized.
    • You don’t have to keep coming up with engaging lesson plans, because your curriculum will have plenty of them.
    • Planning new activities every week is extremely time consuming, not to mention tiring. When you are working with a curriculum, your activities are planned for you, and you just have to adjust them to fit your teaching style.
    • There are some really good options online, so everything is at your fingertips.
    • Today we’re going to talk about some good, easy-to-use options:
      • My favorite, of course is MusicPlay. I say of course, because Denise Gagne who is the creator and writer of this fantastic curriculum, is a friend, colleague, and the publisher of my resource book of lesson plans, Stories That Sing. MusicPlay is a PreK-6 series that is perfectly designed for music teachers, since Denise has been a music teacher herself for over 40 years. Her curriculum works well for both Orff and Kodaly based teachers. It is comprehensive and easy to use. Plus it’s affordable. You can use MusicPlay as a resource to accompany your other activities, or it can stand alone as your exclusive curriculum. It is easy to use and fun for your kiddos.
      • Quaver Music is another very good option. Quaver is a PreK-8th series that teaches all things music with a fun-loving, kid friendly style. It can be used as a stand-alone curriculum or to accompany other activities. What I like best about Quaver is the crazy, silly way they approach each concept.
      • While I haven’t used it, I have heard that Game Plan is a good option if you’re searching for a curriculum. This one is Orff based and works with K-5. There are engaging activities designed for use throughout the school year.
      • For more options, you can check out this blog post. It is a bit dated, but it does give you some other options if you’re searching for curriculum possibilities.
  3. Prioritize – I am not an organized person by nature, but this year, I set some goals and got organized. This is the best way to prioritize:
    • Spend some time setting goals for the year. Setting specific goals will help you prioritize, because anything that doesn’t fit into your plan for the year can be set aside. Be sure to set personal and professional goals. Put yourself first in those goals.
    • Get organized. Put all personal and professional events on your calendar. Set aside time for any steps you need to take to meet your goals. There is a great app out called ClickUp that can help you organized both your work and personal life. It’s easy to use and can be downloaded right to your smartphone.
    • Stick to your calendar. It is super easy to put things on your calendar, and then never check it (if you’re like me anyway). I like ClickUp, because it automatically notifies you when you have something coming up.
    • Get rid of any time sucking events that don’t meet your personal and professional goals.
  4. Make YOU the FIRST priority – this is going to be a tough one. I know you teacher. I know you like to please…your students, the other teachers, your admin, your peeps at home. You can’t please everyone all the time. Take a few minutes to think about what and who your priorities are for this new year, and make YOU number one. Here are some great ways to do that:
    • Practice self care
      • Exercise
      • Eat well
      • Meditate
      • Meet friends for coffee or an adult beverage
    • Say no. We can’t be all things to all people. Think about WHO is important in your life, and say no to those who are not on your list.
    • Limit the number of events and activities you are planning for your students/performing groups. If you normally take on 3 after school groups in addition to your normal teaching responsibilities, just do 1 or 2.
    • Limit the number of people and events in your life to only those that are really important for your happiness.

I would love to help you, teacher. Allow me to take a bit off your plate this year with some engaging lesson plans that you can use right away to teach basic music skills. Check out my shop for some great storybook lesson plans and some active lesson plans that are ready to use and super engaging for your kiddos. Want even more? Visit my TPT shop here.

You have a busy, challenging job. If you continue to burn the candle at both ends, it eventually burns out. Be good to yourself this year. Being a good teacher doesn’t mean you have to be constantly frazzled and overwhelmed. Find some new ways to simplify your life and make things easier.

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