I, like most people, thrive on routine. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all are more productive, healthy, and happy (in general) when we follow a regular routine.
I've recently discovered that I'm one of those weirdos who loves having a routine while simultaneously feeling stifled by it. Especially if it's very detailed. But before we get into that, allow me to flashback for a moment.
When I taught in public schools, I was on top of things. Productive, efficient, effective, energetic. All things administrators and parents want in a music teacher.
That was me. At least while I was at school.
Here's a quick breakdown of my day:
In the morning, I had enough time to get ready and that's about it, so I'd get up, shower, and get dressed. While my coffee was brewing, I'd put together my breakfast & lunch. I'd have my coffee in the car and I was ready for the day.
At school, I'd have breakfast (oatmeal while on hall duty w/orchestra teacher), prep for classes for the day. Then I'd teach, prep/plan, teach, lunch, teach, meetings, and after school ensembles.
When I got home, things...well they fell apart. I didn't belong to a gym or have anything regularly scheduled, so my health and fitness were lacking. I lived alone so my cleaning habits were lacking (I'd sporadically deep clean everything then do nothing for a month...not the best of times.) I was in a miserable relationship, so my mental health was lacking. And I didn't have an instrument in my apartment, so my practice was lacking.
At school I seemed to have it all together. At home, I was lost.
Why couldn't I keep my life together?
Because at school, my schedule was set for me. I had no choice but to teach classes at their appointed times, eat lunch at 1pm, go to the bathroom on my break even when my bladder was ready to burst 90 minutes ago (I feel you teachers!).
It was easy to keep the routine because the schedule was already determined for me. When I got home, I was able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted...or not.
I was a young adult and up until that point the schedule I followed my ENTIRE life was one that someone else had set for me.
Think about that for a moment, especially if you have children.
How much of their time is scheduled FOR them as opposed to being scheduled BY them? How much responsibility to they have over the use of their time? How much choice do they have over the use of their time?
I did not feel prepared for adult life. At least not for the time I wasn't working.
Fast forward 10+ years and my daily schedule is totally different.
I have the entire morning to do whatever I need/want. I technically don't have to be at work until 1pm. Most days (like today) I'm working several hours before that, but I don't have an actual routine.
So who needs a routine? Well, I certainly do!
Over the next several months I will be trying different morning routines to find what helps me be most productive while not making me feel over-worked or overwhelmed.
Okay, confession: I started this experiment earlier this month and I think I've found a general outline that works for me, but I'm still going to try out other routines.
I'm excited to see how this changes my productivity, my mental health, my physical health and my overall outlook on life and work.
I'd love to hear about your routines. Morning, work, evening, workout, meal planning....whatever you've got, let me hear about it.
Drop me a note and let me know!
Yes, it's February and I'm about to discuss Christmas. But this is too good to hold onto until December, so please bear with me.
Every year, like most teachers, I get gifts from students and their families. Teacher decorations, candies, gift cards, etc. One student gave me an awesome pair of piano socks!
This year was no exception. What made it different was a note and gift I received from the grandma of 2 of my students. The youngest handed it to me and said, "This is from Grammy".
My heart melted.
And then melted some more when I read the note.
The note and gift themselves are beautiful and I so appreciate them. But when I saw that the card was signed "Love, Grammy", it just brought me to tears. (The tears are welling up now thinking about it.)
See, I had a Grammy. She was my mom's maternal grandmother, my great-grandmother and I had the honor of knowing her until I was 19. Most people don't get to have their grandparents in their lives that long let alone a great-grandparent. Having the grandma of my students sign her name Grammy and not "M and G's Grandma" or "Mrs. So-in-so" just made so many things feel worth it. (Where are my teachers at? You feel me, right?)
This is what I love about what I do. My students are family. Their families are family and what is more wonderful than that?
I have been doing themed recitals for years. It started back when I was teaching in-home lessons and all of my students wanted to play music from the same genre.
When I had 10, 20, even 30 students it was easy to find enough variety of pieces for them to play, but as my studio grew, I began having trouble finding pieces to fit my themes.
The biggest problem? There was a limited amount of pre-staff reading piano music for my newest piano students. There is some out there, but at the time I had more students than pieces, so I began to write my own music for these kiddos.
Here are 3 winter songs that I wrote for my piano students. I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine have!
So many of my students have been obsessed with dinosaurs at some point in their young lives. Dinosaur Winter was written for one of these students.
This white key pre-reading piece uses quarter notes, quarter rests (which can be taught by rote) and half notes. Played on C, D, & E it's the perfect piece for a student just learning the white keys on the piano!
Dancing in the Snow
This is a lyrical piece that is centered around the C 5-Finger Scale (aka C position). It has students swirling down the piano with cross-hand motion.
I typically have my students start on G7 (the highest G on the piano), but it can be started in any octave.
The Abominable Snowman
Have a student who loves those low sounds? This song is for them!
Written in A minor, with basic rhythms of quarter, half, and whole notes, and an easy hand position, this fun piece will delight every student!
All downloads come with a studio license. An explanation of this license can be found on each listing.
Want to get your hands on all 3 pieces? Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to purchase the Winter Piano Music Bundle and save!
It's Wednesday morning and I've just finished my morning routine (more about that to come!). While I was drinking my coffee, I started thinking about all of the things that have happened over the last several weeks.
I started this blog and got my Tpt store up and running.
My students have been sharing so many stories in their lessons.
I'm (finally) able to exercise regularly.
I'm practicing regularly.
So many good, funny, wonderful things are happening and I want to share them with you!
On Wednesdays I will be sharing something wonderful from my life. A story, a photo, a recipe, who knows what the week will bring!
This week is I have a cute little a story from one of my kindergartners:
"Miss Christie, guess what."
"I am so fast! I can run faster than the gingerbread man!"
"Yeah, I can run 100, but he can only run 20, so I'm going to catch him because I'm so fast!"
What would Valentine's Day be without a little music teacher love? Here are 5 of my favorite music activities that I have used with my students over the years:
1. Valentine's Composing A couple of years ago I came up with the idea to have my students compose their own pieces for Valentine's Day. Not all of my students were reading on the staff, so I put together this little composing activity for them to use.
2. Puppy Love is an adorable note reading game from Andrea & Trevor Dow over at TeachPianoToday.
3. Valentine's Cookie Memory I love the many different levels this game incorporates. I'll be introducing a lot of new symbols to some of my little ones and testing the memories of my older ones. I decided to print the black and white version onto 2 sided color card card stock, then I laminated them. Personally, I think they're adorable, thanks Sara for this freebie :)
4. Susan Paradis has a plethora of awesome piano and music activities, games, & songs on her website, I won't list them all today, but here's where they can be found.
5. I have no idea where I got this worksheet from, but it's a hit every year!
Do you do holiday activities with your students? Have you used any of these?