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#1418002 - 04/15/10 03:28 PM How do you determine what teaching load is good for you?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I've taken the month off from teaching to reassess things and figure out what I need to cut back on as the stress is causing health issues for me. This time away has really been great to help me get refocused, and I'm really looking forward to when I start teaching again. In the meantime, I'm trying to make good use of my time to set some boundaries for myself.

I currently have a waiting list of around 8 people, so that when I'm ready to return, I really need to know how much I can take on. Money, of course, is an issue, so there's a minimum I need to make in order to stay solvent.

So what have you done to set these boundaries? What criteria do you look at other than your bottom line to determine how much you can handle? I realize that everyone will be different as far as what they can take, but perhaps there are some other things that I'm not considering in my decisions.
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#1418017 - 04/15/10 03:48 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Good question, and worth thinking about. Hope your health returns! Hard to give and give, when you are feeling empty.

I think you have to consider a few things (including some I failed to consider!)

First, as you've said, what kind of money do you need to see coming in? Easy enough to determine a minimum number of students by that.

You also need to consider what other responsibilities you have on your life, what you want out of teaching, and your personal tolerance.

I returned to teaching when my youngest entered college - after raising three musicians, the house was way too quiet. My husband works till about 7:00.

What I wanted out of teaching was contact with young people, and noise! To fill my empty house and my free time. So the first thing I did was determine what time was not free. I wanted to have evenings and weekends with my husband. So I stop teaching every day at 7.

I have the freedom of not needing the money. So I can have a relaxed schedule, and be picky about my students. These things are important to me. When I have too many students crammed into my schedule, and have students who are a chore to teach, my stress level rises.

I teach 30 minute lessons, but tend to go over a bit. So I schedule 2 lessons, then a 15 minute break. During that break, I can catch up on overruns, run to the bathroom, get a drink, make a phone call.... I teach at 3:30 and 4, 4:45 and 5:15, 6:00 and 6:30.

This schedule would allow me to teach 30 kids per week, but I only teach 17. (My max is 20, but I really begin to feel it. 17 is about perfect for me.) I don't teach much on Mondays - tend to keep that day for make-ups, or just for me. My husband brings home take-out every Monday, so it's like an extra day off for me. A day to shop, clean, and get ready for the week.

The other thing I do is teach only beginners. When I teach more advanced students, it takes a lot more time from me, choosing music, making sure I am offering enough opportunities, etc. It is less stressful for me to concentrate on what I think I do best. (I also tend to weed out those who want to learn only pop music and such, as I do not teach that type of music well.)

I had to learn some of this the hard way - seeing my attitude get sour when I felt too many demands on me. You are smart to be willing to make adjustments.


Edited by Lollipop (04/15/10 03:50 PM)
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#1418022 - 04/15/10 03:56 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Morodiene, Congratulations on taking the month off to take care of yourself, your own needs, and set goals and boundaries.
Best wishes to you in regaining your health, I think that's the most important thing.

Criteria I use to set the number of students in my studio:

Taking care of myself and my family. I have two children and a husband who is on the road with his work. In the past, I took on too many students and too much other stuff like accompaniment jobs, etc. etc. volunteering all over the place and it took a toll big time on my family life. If I can maintain our home, prepare meals, and spend time with my family, this is what matters to me and I work my teaching load around this lifestyle. Example: I took on a few 6:00 p.m. students in the past and that was a no-win for all involved.
For us, it works well for me to have students out the door by 6:15. And no more rescheduled lessons on Sundays crazy

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#1418026 - 04/15/10 04:00 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Lollipop]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
There are some good points in there. I, too, don't want to work too late in the evening, especially on Friday nights. My husband finishes work at 5, but he has projects that he like sot do, so it's OK if I teach until 7:30.

I do have several home school and adult students who didn't work or had different work hours, but I haven't yet found the perfect time to teach them. I ended up putting them on the beginning of my day, but then my day starts early and goes straight until 7:30. That makes for a lot of students, even with breaks in between.

I did try scheduling in a 15 minute break, but some parents would intrude upon that time because there wasn't a student waiting there for their lesson, and would talk it away no matter how much I'd try to break of the conversation! I don't mind talking, but I hate taking up the poor student's lesson time, and for some reason the mother won't phone me outside of his lessons with these questions. Anyways, so the break time I need to be strategic when I place them so I know I have a student that won't intrude upon it.

So I guess maybe I should have a late morning set aside for home school and adults who need an earlier time of day and see if they can work around that, and then have a lighter afternoon on that day.
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#1418063 - 04/15/10 05:02 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Keep in mind that what you may define as an optimum work schedule changes at different times in your life, too. While I was in grad school and the early years of my career, I worked 70-hour weeks year round and had no trouble doing so. (Of course, I was young, single, and had no kids then.) Today I am neither interested in or capable of working those long hours. In short, don't beat yourself up if you are feeling stressed by your schedule; listen to your body instead and do whatever is necessary to feel a healthy work-life balance.

Would it help, perhaps, if you could juggle your schedule to give another day completely off? Either a 3-day weekend or maybe mid-week break? Or, maybe schedule your adult students and homeschoolers for Friday morning and then don't work Friday evenings.
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#1418064 - 04/15/10 05:06 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
Over the years my teaching schedule has been determined by my own children's age and schedule. It's changed quite a bit.

When they were younger, I'd pick them up from school at 2:30 or 3:00 and go home to teach, ending at 6:15 or so. I only taught 3 afternoons a week.

As they got older, I expanded my studio to a retail location, my kids had their own cars, and I could teach a bit earlier in the afternoon (though, still only 3 afternoons).

Now, they're both in college, have jobs, and schedules that don't depend on me making dinner every evening. So, I now teach 4 days per week plus Saturday mornings for 2 hours. This load works great for me for now.
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#1418068 - 04/15/10 05:13 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Monica K.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Keep in mind that what you may define as an optimum work schedule changes at different times in your life, too. While I was in grad school and the early years of my career, I worked 70-hour weeks year round and had no trouble doing so. (Of course, I was young, single, and had no kids then.) Today I am neither interested in or capable of working those long hours. In short, don't beat yourself up if you are feeling stressed by your schedule; listen to your body instead and do whatever is necessary to feel a healthy work-life balance.

Would it help, perhaps, if you could juggle your schedule to give another day completely off? Either a 3-day weekend or maybe mid-week break? Or, maybe schedule your adult students and homeschoolers for Friday morning and then don't work Friday evenings.


This is very true. I am concerned about spending time with my husband and also being able to keep the house cleaner and take care of various projects we have going. Having an extra free day I think might be the best idea, rather than spread out over the entire week. When I return to teaching in May, of course, it will only be one more month of that old schedule, but I can plan for how I want my summer to look and get people ready for the Fall. Great idea!
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#1418144 - 04/15/10 07:30 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Hi Morodiene,
I hope you feel restored to health soon. Sounds like a good plan to take time to evaluate your needs and set boundaries to protect yourself physically and emotionally. I wish you well!

I do not have a waiting list, but I think it's nice that you do...you have some good options. I have 18 students and it seems just right for me. But I would have a hard time turning down new students who have good parent support. I think it is simple but not necessarily easy to maintain good boundaries. smile

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#1418230 - 04/15/10 11:16 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Overexposed]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'm sorry to hear of some health issues, Morodiene, and you have taken a necessary step to remove yourself for a short time to recover and to plan preventative measures.

It it's simply time and energy that needs to be balances with some time that is purely "off" from teaching, social or recreational time, the first thing to do is look at a monthly calendar, weekly calendar and daily calender. A step I took when my husband retired in 1996 was to give us 3 day weekends by not teaching on either a Friday or a Monday. I could choose both, and did, fitting 25 or so students into 3 days of lessons. Now I had 2 flexible days that could be used for traveling or anything else needed. This might be too much for your needs, but you should give yourself at least one or two days free from anything musical out of the 7 day week.

If there were any situations in my studio that were stressful to me, I would find a way to minimize them, or eliminate them. That might mean exchanging a lesson slot for one of your waiting list.

If you could convert an already established student from an half hour lesson to an hour lesson, it means less people to deal with so that your teaching time and income is the same, but you are seeing and interacting with less people.

You could also give all of the 8 on your waiting list a 10 week introduction to your studio so that you could see who is really interested in being in your studio and who are the most likely students to have a profile that meets your studios profile as fitting in well with the others. If you took a two hour time slot, you could fit in 4 30 minute lessons for 10 weeks; when completed you could use the same hour to process the remaining 4 students through. As you have openings, you can now use the same slots to enroll these students...but 4 will have to wait their turns to enroll in lessons. This helps you make progress in creating new students to replace old students who will leave sometime in the future. There are other possibilites here when you think about it. Such as what about a "group" of 4 similar students during one of the hours for 10 weeks as an entry level for new students?

Keeping your needs and your husband's and you as a couple and your household and other activities as a priority is very important.

I have dealt with my own health and limitations since 2003 and I've downsized during that time greatly to meet my needs. One of the things that had to happen to keep my income up there was to each year make sure that my earning power was where it needed to be. I have managed to do that with my studio policy that makes communication so clear that the problems are greatly reduced, the communication flows, things work like clockwork. I know that you have worked on your policy before a few years ago, it might be time to revise it. One of the best outcomes from my policy is that students stay in study for a long time since the parents are committed to my established system. We avoid conflicts and there is smooth sailing for the most part. So keeping present students and inviting others in is a priority at a time like this.

If your time must be limited in the studio because of your health: it becomes a different playing field. Perhaps some students would like to team up for a month and the focus could be "duets" and "ensemble" playing. Or getting together for more "group" activities" or "piano parties" for a while - such as summer being open for more spontaneous happenings and less of the private one-on-one.

I didn't address your vocal teaching as I know little about it, but maybe forming a little group that could sing together in parts would be rewarding for all. You could conduct a chorus instead of eaches. In our area some of the high schools are doing barbershop music and the quartets of kids joined the local chapter and go to competitions for youth barbershoppers. My husband's chapter has a college championship quartet and several other new young members because the director is a woman who directs the "Harmony Kings" mens chorus for the past 2 years, and is a high school choral music specialists. She's helped reach the young men and women in music to combine a great program for her students at school.

Sorry to be so long! But I have a lot of experience in accomodating for my health issues and wanted to share some ideas with you.

I wish you well, Morodiene!

Betty

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#1418303 - 04/16/10 05:27 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Berlin
If you have a waiting list and money is an issue, the economist in me screams out to increase your rates until you find a balance between enough money and free time.

Getting market value for your time is not mean to your current students, nor greedy. If it reached a point where you even have health issues due to stress, this balance seems even more off! Even a nice, promising student who wouldn't be able to pay the higher rates is not worth your health.
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aim for the moon - if you miss, at least you'll be among the stars.

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#1418322 - 04/16/10 07:24 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Bunneh]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Hi Morodiene, I'm not a teacher so I wont make any contributions, all I want to say is all the best. I dont claim to have the wisdom of the world as a young person, but I've been there before, poor health, too many commitments, it didn't end up very nicely, good on you for adressing it now, not letting it get bad to the point that it is unbearable. All the best.
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#1419114 - 04/17/10 07:21 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5967
Loc: Down Under
Coming late to this, but I second Monica's suggestion of freeing up another whole day. I've done this at times in the past and it's made a big difference to me.
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#1419241 - 04/18/10 12:23 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: currawong]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
I hope you feel better be careful you don't perhaps fall into the same trap with your health, once you start feeling better. Perhaps if you need a certain base of money start there, and find out which time you absolutely do not want infringed on and don't schedule students then. The other is up your rates so that you can afford to teach less students and still have the same income that you need and then you will free up your time without the financial burden. And you will have more time for you and your husband and your health.

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#1419337 - 04/18/10 07:58 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Roxy]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
It must be a nice luxury to be able to afford to take an entire month off.
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#1419398 - 04/18/10 11:17 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Bunneh]
Pogorelich. Online   blank
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Hope your health is good now!

Maybe have one day where you don't have anything permanent scheduled. My Sundays are like that, so that if things get too hectic I can move SOMETHING to a Sunday or just have the day off to practice only. Or for last minute rehearsals...

I do think one or even half day off will be good for you.
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1419401 - 04/18/10 11:21 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: stores]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: stores
It must be a nice luxury to be able to afford to take an entire month off.


It doesn't have to be a luxury if you plan for it. I structure my tuition to make sure I have paid vacation. I have a 12-month tuition that is paid over that period so I have a predictable income.
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#1419407 - 04/18/10 11:35 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Minniemay]
Pogorelich. Online   blank
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
Or you could be a starving musician like me and don't get paid for time off..
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1419726 - 04/18/10 11:22 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
Sparkler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 177
I am in a similar boat as you, so I can only offer the things I've thought through.

I know that this year I've taken on way too much. I have several little ones of my own with another one on the way, and I have something like 27 students.

The only reason I did this in the first place honestly, was because of financial circumstances. Before this, I taught about 3 students who were all children of friends. Now I have all these new students and I can't exactly quit on them, can I?

The thing is, I LOVE teaching. I just have to learn to put my family's needs first.

For me, I have over scheduled 3 days a week in order to leave 2 week days and weekends free. I kinda like this this as it gives me room to breathe on 2 weekdays and know that I can love on my own kids all day long during those times. I always look forward to those days. But, I am finding that I am starting to dread those over scheduled work days. (Tomorrow, for example, I teach 14 students. Ack. Mondays are my huge days.

So ideally for me, I would drop to about 15 quality students and teach them all on 3 light days a week, back to back so that I have huge chunks of time free for my own family each day.

Also ideally I'd like to be done by 5pm every day but I don't see how that could work in the real world. I do have quite a few homeschooled students though, so this is almost doable for me and I'll keep working on that.

I'm hoping financial circumstances turn around to the point where I am able to cut back, because I'm close to my breaking point. I want to keep on loving what I'm doing, and keep being inspired and being inspirational instead of beginning to resent that I having to make the choice of spending so much time with other people's children instead of my own!

Hope you feel better soon, Morodienne.


Edited by Sparkler (04/18/10 11:22 PM)
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#1419968 - 04/19/10 11:33 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Sorry, I've been en route to my vacation in CA, and now that I'm here I can respond to the helpful comments you've all posted!

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I'm sorry to hear of some health issues, Morodiene, and you have taken a necessary step to remove yourself for a short time to recover and to plan preventative measures.

It it's simply time and energy that needs to be balances with some time that is purely "off" from teaching, social or recreational time, the first thing to do is look at a monthly calendar, weekly calendar and daily calender. A step I took when my husband retired in 1996 was to give us 3 day weekends by not teaching on either a Friday or a Monday. I could choose both, and did, fitting 25 or so students into 3 days of lessons. Now I had 2 flexible days that could be used for traveling or anything else needed. This might be too much for your needs, but you should give yourself at least one or two days free from anything musical out of the 7 day week.

I really like this idea, and I'll have to consider this for next year. I actually used to not teach on two days a week so that I could teach Kindermusik and my young voice class, and I think I could work it out to fit people in a 4-day week.

Quote:
If you could convert an already established student from an half hour lesson to an hour lesson, it means less people to deal with so that your teaching time and income is the same, but you are seeing and interacting with less people.
I've done this with as many of my families that can afford it (going form 1/2 hour to 45 minutes). It's been very helpful to me and also to those kids that need the extra 15 minutes!

Quote:
You could also give all of the 8 on your waiting list a 10 week introduction to your studio so that you could see who is really interested in being in your studio and who are the most likely students to have a profile that meets your studios profile as fitting in well with the others. If you took a two hour time slot, you could fit in 4 30 minute lessons for 10 weeks; when completed you could use the same hour to process the remaining 4 students through. As you have openings, you can now use the same slots to enroll these students...but 4 will have to wait their turns to enroll in lessons. This helps you make progress in creating new students to replace old students who will leave sometime in the future. There are other possibilites here when you think about it. Such as what about a "group" of 4 similar students during one of the hours for 10 weeks as an entry level for new students?

I do give all new students an 8-lesson trial period. For voice students, these 8 lessons are condensed into 2-3 1/2 hour lessons per week for the purposes of developing muscles properly and getting them started without going home to practice in their old ways of singing. Because of this necessity, I wouldn't want to add voice students all at once. In fact, I'm thinking all the voice students on my list should start in the summer when they can be more flexible and I have more time to do this. As far as offering group lessons for that introductory period, I feel as though a group lesson requires a lot more preparation than individual lessons. Perhaps that's just my personal experience in teaching groups, but I just don't think that would work for me at this point.

Quote:
If your time must be limited in the studio because of your health: it becomes a different playing field. Perhaps some students would like to team up for a month and the focus could be "duets" and "ensemble" playing. Or getting together for more "group" activities" or "piano parties" for a while - such as summer being open for more spontaneous happenings and less of the private one-on-one.


I've often thought about doing a camp-like group thing for my students, but the planning involved has always held me back. It's something that I would like to try one of these years, however. I think the kids would really like it.

Quote:
I didn't address your vocal teaching as I know little about it, but maybe forming a little group that could sing together in parts would be rewarding for all. You could conduct a chorus instead of eaches. In our area some of the high schools are doing barbershop music and the quartets of kids joined the local chapter and go to competitions for youth barbershoppers. My husband's chapter has a college championship quartet and several other new young members because the director is a woman who directs the "Harmony Kings" mens chorus for the past 2 years, and is a high school choral music specialists. She's helped reach the young men and women in music to combine a great program for her students at school.

Actually, teaching chorus and private voice are vastly different, and I have no interest in choral directing. Thanks for all the ideas though, it really has helped me to think of different ways to continue teaching while keeping those healthy boundaries! smile
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1419976 - 04/19/10 11:51 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Bunneh]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Bunneh
If you have a waiting list and money is an issue, the economist in me screams out to increase your rates until you find a balance between enough money and free time.

Getting market value for your time is not mean to your current students, nor greedy. If it reached a point where you even have health issues due to stress, this balance seems even more off! Even a nice, promising student who wouldn't be able to pay the higher rates is not worth your health.


My rates are actually on the high end for my area. I think the waiting list is due to the fact that I am in a high-profile location where people can walk by and see my studio. I may do a minimal increase for next year, but I don't think my rates are what have caused the waiting list. This is the first time in *years* that I've had one, actually.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1419979 - 04/19/10 11:55 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Rebekah.L
Hi Morodiene, I'm not a teacher so I wont make any contributions, all I want to say is all the best. I dont claim to have the wisdom of the world as a young person, but I've been there before, poor health, too many commitments, it didn't end up very nicely, good on you for adressing it now, not letting it get bad to the point that it is unbearable. All the best.


Thanks, Rebekah. I did, actually let it go too far and for too long. I should have done this years ago. Now that I understand how stress affects women physically, and how I personally need to keep it to a minimum, I am better able to make the necessary changes. The hardest part of feeling like I've let down my husband and my students. No one has said anything to that effect of course, so it's a self-imposed feeling of disappointing those I care about, and I just have to get over that (otherwise, I'll be stressed out about stressing out! What a dilemma! :D). Thanks for the encouragement and kind words.
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#1419980 - 04/19/10 11:56 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Roxy]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Roxy
I hope you feel better be careful you don't perhaps fall into the same trap with your health, once you start feeling better. Perhaps if you need a certain base of money start there, and find out which time you absolutely do not want infringed on and don't schedule students then. The other is up your rates so that you can afford to teach less students and still have the same income that you need and then you will free up your time without the financial burden. And you will have more time for you and your husband and your health.

Perhaps this is the best place to start, finding out what I need to make and work backwards from there. It also takes out the emotion in the decision.
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#1419983 - 04/19/10 11:59 AM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: stores]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: stores
It must be a nice luxury to be able to afford to take an entire month off.

It has been a financial struggle, actually, but we've saved up money for just these times of necessity. There's nothing luxurious about it - it's about planning for those tough times when times are good.
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#1419993 - 04/19/10 12:10 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Sparkler]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12153
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Sparkler
I am in a similar boat as you, so I can only offer the things I've thought through.

I know that this year I've taken on way too much. I have several little ones of my own with another one on the way, and I have something like 27 students.

The only reason I did this in the first place honestly, was because of financial circumstances. Before this, I taught about 3 students who were all children of friends. Now I have all these new students and I can't exactly quit on them, can I?

The thing is, I LOVE teaching. I just have to learn to put my family's needs first.

For me, I have over scheduled 3 days a week in order to leave 2 week days and weekends free. I kinda like this this as it gives me room to breathe on 2 weekdays and know that I can love on my own kids all day long during those times. I always look forward to those days. But, I am finding that I am starting to dread those over scheduled work days. (Tomorrow, for example, I teach 14 students. Ack. Mondays are my huge days.

So ideally for me, I would drop to about 15 quality students and teach them all on 3 light days a week, back to back so that I have huge chunks of time free for my own family each day.

Also ideally I'd like to be done by 5pm every day but I don't see how that could work in the real world. I do have quite a few homeschooled students though, so this is almost doable for me and I'll keep working on that.

I'm hoping financial circumstances turn around to the point where I am able to cut back, because I'm close to my breaking point. I want to keep on loving what I'm doing, and keep being inspired and being inspirational instead of beginning to resent that I having to make the choice of spending so much time with other people's children instead of my own!

Hope you feel better soon, Morodienne.

Wow, sounds like you're almost where I was as far as taking on too much. Perhaps some of the advice on this thread will help you, too. Increasing your rates is a very good way of cutting back on students without sacrificing the income. You can always have a list of teachers in the area who have openings that you can refer students to.

My one big caution to you is just from what I've experienced. I'm guessing you're a bit younger than I because you have young children of your own, and you might survive it now, but it will catch up with you. Stress causes the adrenal glands to release more cortisol, a hormone. While this is fine for "fight or flight" situations, over an extended period of stressful time the adrenals can become exhausted, causing all sorts of issues. Another problem is that if you have lots of cortisol in your blood due to stress, then when your body release progesterone (a hormone that counter-balances estrogen in women) the cortisol can actually *block* the progesterone from being absorbed into the organs. This is what happened to me, and it causes symptoms such as those listed here: http://www.johnleemd.com/store/estrogen_dom.html

So please, do some research on this to inform yourself and to realized that you *can't* do it all, and trying to will only mean you'll have to eventually do much less.
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#1420015 - 04/19/10 01:11 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7410
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
When your stress level gets too high, you should cut back your teaching load.

I found this little test which you can employ to determine if your overly stressed or not.

I am not sure exactly how it works, but this is amazingly accurate. Carefully read the instructions before going to the test. It was used in a case study on stress levels at St. Mary's Hospital, London, where it was validated.

The test consists of a photo of dolphins, known to be relaxing to viewers. In the photo, the dolphins are identical.

Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water. The dolphins are identical. A closely monitored scientific study revealed that, in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical, a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins. The more differences a person finds between the dolphins, the more stress that person is experiencing.

Look at the photograph and if you find more than one or two differences you need to reduce your studio teaching load....


Stress Test
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#1420045 - 04/19/10 02:03 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
ROFL, John! laugh
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#1420102 - 04/19/10 04:09 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Monica K.]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I think you're trying to do too much. When I was taking lessons
way back when, all the teachers did was go through the
motions and collect the fee. They didn't care what kind of
piano I played at home, didn't care if I practiced or not,
didn't care if my parents were involved in the learning
process.

You mentioned that you're taking lessons yourself to raise
your level, but this is not realistic. Pieces like Chopin Ballades
are out of your reach, and trying to learn them so that you
can prepare students for conservatory auditions is not going
to happen. You're a very good teacher up to the advanced
intermediate level, but after that you're going to have to
hand your students over to another teacher if they want
to prepare for college auditions.

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#1420112 - 04/19/10 04:24 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Gyro]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5559
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
Pieces like Chopin Ballades
are out of your reach, and trying to learn them so that you
can prepare students for conservatory auditions is not going
to happen.


Gee, that's a nice thing to say.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1420228 - 04/19/10 08:02 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: AZNpiano]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1200
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Gyro
Pieces like Chopin Ballades
are out of your reach, and trying to learn them so that you
can prepare students for conservatory auditions is not going
to happen.


Gee, that's a nice thing to say.


My thoughts exactly. Talk about hitting below the belt.

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#1420275 - 04/19/10 09:52 PM Re: How do you determine what teaching load is good for you? [Re: Gyro]
heidiv Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/21/09
Posts: 579
Loc: piano bench, usually
Originally Posted By: Gyro
Pieces like Chopin Ballades
are out of your reach


This seems out of character for you, Gyro, considering you advocate learning a concerto note by note regardless of one's ability or experience.

I say do what you love and love what you do.

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