In an attempt to stream-line my increasingly busy life I’ve decided to check 8 things off my list of “never-get-a-chance-to-do” tasks. You know the ones… those tasks that niggle in the back of your mind as you shut the studio door for the night… the ones that make you feel slightly guilty while you surf Pinterest instead of completing them… the ones that (if you just took a few minutes) would make your life SO much easier?
So, I’m sharing my “never-get-a-chance-to-do” tasks with you in the hopes that you’ll see yourself in some of them and may benefit from the solutions I’ve found!
My Piano Teaching Life Will Be More Efficient When I…
1. …create a catalogue for my supplementary music library. I need a solution for those well-loved and tattered books and sheets that are spilling out of shelves until everything I use becomes digital. I need to know what I have, what’s in each book and who has borrowed what.
And (of course) there’s an app for that! Book Crawler is an iPhone app where you simply scan the ISBN code on the back of each book, add any notes you like, keep track of loans and create a digital library catalogue of all of your music books! There are also android equivalents.
2. … enter all of my students’ info into my smart phone. I’m using texting more and more to contact parents and my older students, but I haven’t yet entered absolutely everyone into my phone. One of my goals this year is to reach out more frequently during the week to the parents of my students. With a quick text (made easier by having current contact details entered) I can keep the lines communication open throughout the week without interrupting their family life with a phone call.
3…create email templates. Another part of streamlining my life is having email templates already created that I can quickly use to answer the most commonly asked questions I receive (or the most common reminders I send). Most email programs will allow you to save “canned responses” meaning you just have to type it once, select the canned response when needed and insert the person’s name.
4. … scan my receipts as I purchase studio supplies. If there’s one thing that Trevor dreads, it’s when I pull out a huge shoe box full of crumpled receipts come tax time. It means hours of sorting and entering. So this year, I’m being super pro-active and using our accounting program’s feature where, as I purchase, I take a picture of my receipt and designate it to the appropriate folder. Come tax time, the receipts will all be organized and I will also have a digital record of all purchases. We use waveapps.com but other programs offer this feature too.
5.… video my students often. Video has become such a valuable part of my teaching – both from a “teachable moment” standpoint, and also as a “remember when?!” tool. Instead of trying to remember to do this often, I now have a small video camera on a tripod as a permanent fixture in my studio – it’s a constant reminder to grab those videos (for which there are SO many applications). Check out the Kodak Zi8.. love it!
6… pre-plan my social media presence. We’ve blogged about how to have a hopping’ studio Facebook page (and our studio does) but it’s often done at the last minute and, as a result, takes me much longer to maintain. Instead, when the new school year arrives I’ll be setting aside 1.5 hours on Sunday evenings where I will find share-ables, upload student videos and pictures, seek out relevant articles and plan status updates for each day of the week.
7… create new student packages in advance. I have students register all year long. This means that I’m often caught getting ready for a new student in a last-minute fashion. This year I’m pre-doing everything I use to welcome a new student to my studio and setting these packages aside so that as students register mid-year it doesn’t mean last-minute running around for me. For info on what I do for newbies check out this post.
8… set aside “student savers”. One of my strengths as a teacher is being able to recognize when I need a “student saver”. I have good intuition when it comes to a student who is feeling uninspired or as though they need a little boost of confidence. This is difficult to predict in advance, and so it often means that I have that “student saver” all ready for him or her the following lesson… but it makes the most sense to have it on hand for immediate use when it matters most. I’ve created accordion folders of piano theory games and exercises, awesome music that will rescue my “rather-be-outside boys”, motivating supplementary repertoire and much more. They’re now ready and waiting so I can act immediately and ensure the upcoming week’s worth of practice is back on track.
Did Something Ring a Bell?
Did you see yourself in any of my “wish I had done this sooner” tasks? What do you wish you had time for that would make your piano teaching life easier? We’d love to hear from you. Share your “If I had oodles of time I would…” in the comment section below.