Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Last year, being only 33% of full time at the Large Suburban High School, I found that supplementing my income with private piano and voice lessons was necessary. So I taught at Fusion three nights a week.

I left in June, after a year-and-a-half of working there, and I haven't looked back or regretted my decision once. Sure, I had some nice kids, but for the most part I didn't get a lot of joy from sitting on a hard bench with my back awkwardly shoved against a wall. The majority of my students did not practice with any great regularity, and the no-shows were a drag. Even though I charged them for no-show lessons, sitting there for 30 minutes felt so wasteful. My time is worth more than that.

When word came down, officially, that I would get the piano lab class at LSHS, I was ecstatic. And now that I am actually teaching two periods a day (this may not sound like much but remember, we are a block schedule school, only four periods a day, each one 85 minutes), I find that having my evenings back is a blessing. I get up early to work out, whether at the gym, or running here in my neighborhood, and three days a week, those gym workouts require showering at the gym. It's ten minutes from work; there's no way I'm driving all the way back home and then all the way back to work.

I like to get to school in the 8:45-9:15 range, giving me a solid two hours of prep time to set up for choir (starts at 11:05), go through email, make copies, and get through all the myriad stuff that needs to be done. I was doing all of this last year, so adding full evenings of lessons meant that I had a lot of twelve-hour days.

This year, those are few. Once a month, I have a very long Wednesday. Because of a required department meeting during collaboration time on Wednesdays, I have to be at school at 7:30 that day, so I get to the gym at 6:00. Yes. I do it. I use the three hours I have between that meeting and choir to get a lot of stuff done, then teach three hours' worth of music, with a lunch break between. On Wednesdays, I take breakfast and lunch to school with me. After school, I meet the two private students I've kept at their house (they live five minutes away from the school) and do an hour of lessons there. Most weeks, it's then off to home, comfortably showered, pajama'd and drinking tea by 5:00. But once a month, I go back to school and hang out a few hours 'til the 7:00 Choir Booster meeting.

But most days, I'm home by 4:00, happily drinking tea, playing on the computer, or reading. I chat with Mom and Dad. I prepare lunch for the next day, pack my gym bag. I go to bed at a decent time, and have time to read a bit before passing out by about 9:30. I am absolutely loving having a better work-life balance this year.

That balance is crucial. One of my biggest failings in Antioch all those years ago was in not allowing myself that balance, feeling I'd piss everyone off if I didn't get everything done right away. (Mostly because there were people who would get pissed off if I didn't get everything done right away, even though my learning curve was huge.)  So I stayed late, checked email at home, fielded phone calls from students who had my cell phone number--no, I will NOT come to school on a Sunday, unlock the gate, unlock the theater, disarm the alarm for that whole building, let you into the choir room to get the dress you forgot to take for a carol gig this weekend, then reverse that whole process. Give me a bloody break.

My kids who went on tour last year have my cell phone number. I've had one text so far this school year, asking me how much the choir sweatshirt was so she could have her dad make out a check. That, I can handle.

I don't mind the occasional evening given up to my job--I'm a choir teacher. We have concerts. But getting my evenings back has been wonderful...and life is good.

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