This post was updated in July 2022.
I spend a lot of time in the car.
While my students don't live particularly far from me, I live in Los Angeles, and traffic is ubiquitous.
Over the last couple of years, the one thing that has made all that driving more bearable is podcasts.
I love to keep a mix of genres in my app: news, business, professional development, inspiring, entertaining, and just plain fun! Below I have compiled a list of some of my favorites, sorted by category.
I'll keep this list updated as I discover new ones too! (Updated July 2022)
If you've been in the online piano teaching space for a while, you are probably aware of most of these, but if you're not, you should definitely be subscribed to these!
The TopCast with Tim Topham--this is by far the best podcast out there for piano teachers. Tim covers a huge span of topics from teaching ideas, to business and marketing. It's really a one stop shop for running a successful piano teaching business.
The Vibrant Music Teaching Podcast with Nicola Cantan--this one is new on the scene, but I love that the episodes are short and sweet. They're about 15 minutes long and get right to the point. You leave each episode with something actionable that you can apply to your business and teaching right away.
The Piano Parent Podcast with Shelly Davis--this podcast is actually directed at parents of piano students, but I think it's a great one for us to listen to as teachers as well. You'll get lots of insights on how to communicate well with the parents in your studio. Definitely recommend this one to your studio parents too!
Key Ideas with Leila Viss--a mix of teaching ideas from Leila Viss and fantastic interviews with industry powerhouses.
There are a million business podcasts out there, and it can get really overwhelming trying to choose one to listen to. Here are a few of my favorites:
Teach Music Online with Carly Walton--Carly Walton has a gift for making technology accessible for even the tech hesitant. Each episode is packed with great business and teaching ideas for online or hybrid teachers, and even those who teach mainly in person.
Music Lesson Business Academy--this podcast is exactly what it sounds like. Danny Thompson owns a music academy in Southern California, and this podcast is full of great advice and in the trenches experience.
The Music Studio Start Up
Happier with Gretchen Rubin--I never miss an episode of Happier. It's kind of like Real Simple Magazine, if it were a podcast. Each week you get tips, hacks, and ideas to make your life happier, healthier, and more efficient.
Happier in Hollywood--This is a sister show to the Happier Podcast, literally. It's hosted by Gretchen Rubin's sister Liz, and her writing partner Sarah. It's a fun look into what business in Hollywood looks like, but even those of us who don't work in television can get a lot of great ideas from this show!
Just for Fun
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness--Before it was a show on Netflix it was an awesome podcast! Jonathan has this actually really great podcast that tackles all kinds of topic from the difference between British and American English to the impact of family separations at the border on children. He's also interviewed all of his fellow Fab Five cast members.
Office Ladies--This rewatch podcast of The Office with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey is so much fun. I've learned a lot of fun behind the scenes things, and they often have great guests including fellow cast members, guest actors, directors, and behind the scenes people like the props master.
Lately I've been getting a lot of my news from daily podcasts. Any news outlet you prefer has one at this point. I listen to UpFirst from NPR.
May is a crazy time for students, teachers, and parents. The school year is wrapping up, there's testing, recitals, programs, open houses...you get the picture. We have a lot going on!
A few weeks ago Gretchen Rubin did a feature on her podcast about surviving a "Season of Stress." I love this terminology because it reminds us that these crazy times only last for a time. It's going to end eventually!
If you have the chance to listen to this episode, I'd highly recommend it! It's full of lots of great ideas.
This spring has definitely been super crazy for me! Here are a few things that really help to keep my from losing it when times get nutty:
1. Stay organized. As much as possible.
When I'm in the middle of a stressful time, it can be really easy for my stuff to get out of hand. It feels so much easier to just drop things wherever than to put them back where they belong, but it doesn't take long for things to get out of hand, and clutter is a huge stress amplifier!
I'm not saying this is the time to reorganize my closet or clean out the garage, but it is a time to keep things where they belong. I do the dishes before I go to bed. I fold the laundry and put it away. I hang my keys up when I walk through the door. These little things don't take a lot of time, but they make every day tasks so much easier.
2. Meal Plan and Batch Cook.
Eating well and staying healthy is really important during seasons of stress. These 2 strategies help me to make sure I'm eating well.
Not everyone loves to meal plan, but it's a necessity for me. If I don't have a plan or some easy, healthy food in the fridge, my options are really limited.
I like to use Real Plans. The app is really fun to use, the recipes are great, and it's really customizable, which makes it great for everyone!
Some people love to batch cook full recipes and just live off of the leftovers. There are certain recipes that I might do this for, but in general, I tend to batch cook components of meals. I'll roast up a bunch of extra veggies, roast a whole chicken when we only need half of it, and my favorite trick: make a huge batch of shredded pork, chicken, or beef in the Instant Pot, and reimagine the leftovers throughout the week.
3. Take some time for myself.
When things get busy, it's really easy for me to put myself last. I spend all of my energy on other people, and I don't realize I'm burning out until it's too late and I'm getting snippy with people.
I am definitely not a morning person, but a trick that has helped me find time for myself is to get up earlier. If I get up before everyone else, I have time to take a walk, spend a little time reading, and plan out my day before the responsibilities of the day begin.
What are some strategies that you find helpful during seasons of stress? Let me know in the comments!
I've been a little MIA for a while, and that was for a few different reasons:
Now this post is not going to be a downer, I promise, but I know there are a lot of other teachers like me. I've seen this topic come up many times in forums and masterminds. How do you handle running a studio with a chronic illness like Lupus, Lyme Disease, or in my case, Hashimoto's and a few friends (autoimmune diseases like to hang out with each other, so a lot of people get more than one)?
While working for yourself can be taxing, it's actually really great when you have a chronic illness because
YOU MAKE THE RULES!
That's right! We set our policies, and we get to decide how to run our businesses in a way that works for us, and also makes money!
Here are a few things that I do to make my piano studio work for me:
I think the main trick is to simply know yourself, take care of yourself, and be kind to yourself. We do important, sometimes stressful work, but it's not back breaking, and it's totally doable if you approach it with kindness and creativity.
This is the second post in a series. Check out Day 1 of the 12 Days of Inspiration over at Colourful Keys!
Check back for links to the rest of the days at the end of this post.
Who else was sooooo ready for this break? I definitely found myself spread a little thin these last few weeks, and I'm really excited for my vacation...which has technically already started...but this is a short post, and I'm writing it in my pajamas with my cat in my lap.
Breaks are great! Taking vacations has been proven to reduce stress, keep you heart healthy, improve mental health, and improve relationships (source). Vacations are also shown to increase productivity and creativity (source), two things that are vitally important to us working artists.
A number of surveys have shown that Americans don't take advantage of all of their paid days off, and I know from experience that it's even worse for those of us who don't have traditional paid vacation time each year. The thing is though, we entrepreneur/teaching artists need to take time off! Without it, we will suffer from burnout, decreased creativity, and compromised mental and physical health.
I hope you just decided that you are on vacation with me now. If you somehow end up in Pasadena, let's get lunch!
Ok, so you're on vacation, but you want to make the most of it, right? You want to come back from your break refreshed, reenergized, and ready to take on the world. How do we do that?
Yes, there will be quite a bit of sitting on the couch with your cat and a book (for my fellow introverts. You extroverts out there are probably going to want to do all kinds of exhausting things like having lunch with your friends and taking your kids to Disneyland. To each his own.) But if you really want to make the most of your time off, I'd like to suggest that you do 2 things:
Take some time to look back at this past semester. What went well? What got you excited? What were some of your favorite moments? What are things you're never going to try again? What caused you stress and anxiety?
This is not a planning session. You should set aside some time at THE END of your vacation, after you've read all your books and your cat has grown tired of you, to do some planning. I have my planning session scheduled for next Monday.
This is mental and emotional unloading.
Write these things down, get out your journal/notebook/computer/this handy pdf, and let it all out. This is especially important for external processors who don't want all of their friends and loved ones to avoid them because they're unloading everything on them (I do this all the time. My cat doesn't mind. The humans in my life tire of it quickly.)
This one is multi-faceted. There are many things in our lives from which we can become disconnected when we're busy. Time off is the perfect time to reconnect with those things, and you will be much happier for it.
Reconnect with loved ones. The holiday season can get really busy, and it can be really easy to lose touch with the people we care about the most.
I hope you got to spend some quality time with your loved ones over the holidays. Keep reconnection in mind over the next few days. Have lunch with a good friend you haven't seen in a while. Call your mom. Put your phone in the other room and actually talk to your family. Relationships enrich our lives. They give us a sense of belonging. Take some time to nurture them.
Reconnect with your art. We are music teachers. We are artists sharing our art with the next generation. I don't know about you, but when I get busy, the first thing that goes is my piano time. I might practice things that I need to learn for performances, but I don't play for fun. I don't spend time being creative at the piano, and my students can tell!
You can't pour from and empty cup, so spend some time at the piano. If you're on vacation away from home, play the piano in the hotel lobby until someone asks you to stop, or find another creative way that you can reconnect with your art.
I'm not just a pianist, and I imagine most of you also have other creative outlets and crafts. Spend time doing those things too. Crochet a scarf for a friend, write a new song or poem, spend some time working on that detective novel. Whatever you do, let your creative juices flow!
If you spend some time doing these two things over your break, I can guarantee that you will feel refreshed and ready to go when you get back to work.
One last thing: Don't think of these things as chores, or things to check off your to-do list. This is what vacation is for. If should be fun, relaxing, and on-going.
Need a little help getting started? Here's handy pdf to get the juices flowing:
Check out the rest of this series here:
Day 3: 3 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress at Music Educator Resources
Day 4: New Year's Resolutions for Your Studio at Violin Judy
Day 5: 5 Ways to Reset Your Music Studio After the Holidays at Pianosaurus Rex
Day 6: 6 Things That Should Happen at a First Piano Lesson at Pianissimo: A Very Piano Blog
Day 7: 7 Tax Deductions for Music Teachers at Sara’s Music Studio
Day 8: 8 Questions to Bring Your Studio into the New Year at Fun Key Music
Day 9: 9 Ways to Increase Your Studio Retention at Woods Piano Studio
Day 10: 10 Impressive Benefits of Learning Piano By Ear at Piano Picnic
Day 11: 11 Finds for the New Year at Piano Pantry
Day 12: 12 Tips for Teaching Tricky Personalities by Tracy Selle
I teach piano in California. Here are some of my thoughts.