Curated from the YAMAHA Educator Suite – by Curtis Dean –
Teaching music is a creative job that relies heavily on human interaction and personal connections with your students. While this profession is immensely rewarding, it is also very challenging, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you run the risk of burnout.
In this article, we look at how music teachers can set a self-care routine.
Let’s face it — music teachers have demanding jobs! To make this challenging job a little easier, it’s paramount that you have a support network that you can count on. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life because you become who you spend time with.
In addition to friends and family, reach out to other music educators at your school, in your district or across the country. Having easy access to a network of people is one of the perks of being a teacher.
During the pandemic when social distancing and quarantining were the norm, it’s even more crucial to maintain healthy social connections, especially with people who share similar aspirations and interests.
If possible, schedule regular check-ins with your network of music teachers where you can share your success stories as well as your struggles and challenges. You can even brainstorm creative lessons plans and assessment strategies.
Any time you have some extra time on your hands — which isn’t very often! — take the opportunity to learn something new and flex your brain. Below are some ways in which you can build new neural connections for a healthier brain:
Always find something new and interesting to learn.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, try to recognize and write down your emotions. Become aware of your feelings and take some time to reflect on them. Ask yourself, why are you feeling that way? What is it that you need at that exact moment?
For instance, perhaps there has been a change in the curriculum that’s stressing you out. You’re worried about how you will incorporate this change into your classroom. You may need some time to process, reflect and write down some possible solutions. Consider collaborating with a colleague and have a brainstorming session to work on a solution.
It’s also a good idea to set aside dedicated time to do nothing but reflect on your emotions, thoughts and needs. Journaling is an incredible way to do that. Or try exploring art and other creative subjects, which are excellent means of healthy expression.
Look for moments of beauty and joy every day. Be grateful and enjoy whatever fleeting moment of happiness you experience. Never pass an opportunity to have a hearty laugh or share a joke. Life is all about moments that make you smile and feel appreciative.
Write down those moments of beauty and happiness in a journal or in your daily planner to etch them into your memory. Share interesting anecdotes or stories with your colleagues and students to spread joy.
Make sure you find work-life balance. Don’t allow your profession to become the be-all and end-all of your life. Find new interests and hobbies. What activities nourish your soul? What things are on your personal to-do list? Perhaps there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read. Or a spin class you want to join.
Grab some paints and a canvas and create a quick painting. Try a new recipe. Take a walk or go hiking. Paint your nails or play your guitar. Savor these moments.
When you’re in a creative field, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and become so engrossed in your craft that you sacrifice sleep. In the long run, this is an unhealthy practice and not sustainable.
How can you ensure that you have a regular sleep schedule?
Most creative people can relate to being addicted to perfection and productivity. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Avoid measuring your work by how much you can produce or how productive you are.
Wherever you are in your music journey, all you should expect of yourself is to do the best you can. Take and do things at a reasonable pace and be flexible when circumstances change. It’s easy to feel trapped and think you’re not good enough or doing enough — don’t do that! Treat yourself gently and with respect.
No matter what your profession, these tips can go a long way in helping you live a more fulfilling and enriched life.