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Music Teacher Inspiration for the New Year

Welp, party people, it’s officially a new year. And as with any new year, there’s about a million and one resolutions floating around. I’ll run a marathon. I’ll start to purge some things and become more minimalist. I’ll read 100 books. I’ll do all the things. (Note: These are resolutions that I’ve heard here or there, not necessarily my own. Except that book reading thing. I need to do waaaaay more of that.) But as I was reflecting on 2017, I realized that it was seriously different than any other. And it made me reconsider the same old, same old resolutions.

Last year was the biggest year of my life, pun somewhat intended. I was either pregnant or a new mom the whole year–which is no joke. Becoming a parent was the most wonderfully terrifying experience of my entire life. I remember sitting in the labor and delivery ward at the hospital, hours away from delivering our baby girl, staring at my husband and thinking omg we’re going to have a baby. I mean, that’s sort of what the whole pregnancy thing is about, I realize.

But it didn’t become real to me until she was literally crying on my chest.

Those first few weeks were a blur. Between the typical new mom struggles (that no one really talks about) and the lack of sleep, I was a hot mess express. Everyone talks all about the labor and delivery, but I felt blindsided by the first few days of motherhood. It was beautiful and rewarding, and all of the amazing things, truly. But I was completely overwhelmed and swimming trying to find myself within this brand new identity.

Y’all it was hard. I struggled. I still struggle.

Becoming a mom is the hardest and the best thing I’ve ever done. Anyone who’s a parent will say those exact words–at least in my experience! The other thing they say, as frustratingly true as it is, is that there’s no way to understand it until you’ve actually done it.

I think most things in life worth doing are this way. You never know how strong you can feel on mile 8 until you build up to mile 7. You never know how free you can feel when you have the hard conversations  with those that you love.

And you never know how much you can get out of teaching until you put as much as you can into teaching.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a guilt trip about what you are or are not doing. I’m not about to tell you to spend more hours at the school. You don’t need to spend more money on resources that are going to sit on your shelf unopened. And you don’t have to have each and every word you’re about to say in each lesson scripted, with every “i” dotted and “t” crossed. It’s all about mindset. And for me, it’s three little words.

Purposeful. Sequential. Joyful.

Now if you’ve looked around here at all, you’ll notice that these three words come after Anacrusic throughout this website. There’s a reason these three words are the core of my teaching practice. They provide the clarity I need to set my intentions every morning before school. They define my goals for each day, each lesson, and each interaction with my students. They are simple, but heavy.

I want to be purposeful with each and every moment I have with my students. They are often few and far between, or even fleeting. I might be the only music teacher they ever have, the only voice they ever hear sing, or the only person who lifts them up that day. I want everything to be sequenced beautifully. I want my kids to be fully immersed in each and every musical experience, by doing music. There’s clear intention, but it unfolds organically from lesson to lesson. But most importantly…

I want each and every student, each person, that I make music with to feel the inherent joy that made me want to make music my life’s work.

There’s a reason that I became a music teacher. And it’s not so that I could teach 2nd graders to identify a half note. I mean, that’s a great literacy goal, but that is absolutely not why I get up in the morning. Once I reconnected with the real reason, joy, I never dreaded getting up another day. I never had to force myself out the door. I still needed my morning coffee, but I drink it with a smile.

So this year, I challenge you to stop spending hours and hours pouring over what to do next, or how to fill time. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with #allthethings. Give yourself the grace you need to be the inspired musician you are and the joyful music teacher your kids deserve.

Find the purpose, be thoughtful with the sequence, and choose joy.

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