Become an upscale string teacher with one of our prized coaching packages and transform your own energy into the life you most desire.
Become an upscale string teacher with one of our prized coaching packages and transform your own energy into the life you most desire.
Coaching can help us identify areas for improvement in our teaching and provide us with the guidance we need to support our skills. This can lead to better student experiences, more positive outcomes, and higher levels of engagement. Typical areas which we often find we need help with are as follows. A)Teaching students how to practice, instructing teenagers or the very young, B) teaching adults, and C) teaching vibrato. These are just a few areas many of us struggle with that we can overcome.
Coaching can also help us become more self-aware, both in terms of strengths and areas needing attention. Becoming more self-aware leads to the ability to make better choices, to communicate more effectively, and boost relationships with students, colleagues, and parents. Most importantly, string teachers can become more confident based on a better understanding of their true natures and gain a stronger belief in their ideals and the direction they want to go.
String teacher coaching can also help us manage time, name our priorities, set boundaries and maintain a healthier work-life balance. This can help us find some quiet each day, prevent burnout and improve overall well-being. Another potential area of coaching within work-life balance is our financial health. A coach can assist us to become more financially competent, make more confident decisions around money and help us consider our futures in a supportive atmosphere.
String teachers can learn more about the business side of their work, how to manage a studio, budgeting, and marketing, planning and organization, ethical considerations, and how string teaching is a service to others. Skills, tools, and shortcuts to vastly improve the business of string teaching may be introduced by the expertise of a professional string teacher coach.
String teacher coaching can help connect us with ideas and opportunities for professional development, which all teachers need. This supports us to keep pace with teaching methods, pedagogy, apps, and current best practices to help our teaching to thrive.
In the end, the pluses for receiving coaching in our teaching practices and life decisions are numerous, while the opportunity costs of not doing so can have negative ramifications, including financial ones. It makes sense for string teachers to seek out coaching opportunities to improve our skills and outlook, grow personally and professionally, become more confident, learn to make sound financial plans and investments, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Being coached may well take our string teaching from being acceptably good to outstanding and impactful in our communities. It might even help nudge you into the most important journey of your life, which you alone get to define.
Have you been wobbling on the fence, considering string teacher coaching? Here is your chance for a special discounted offer, valid only until the allocated spaces are filled. Give yourself something you will be proud of and enjoy — a vote of confidence in yourself! Book in now for your no obligation game-plan call to find out if you would benefit from coaching. Saver price — limited time only: $397 for six coaching sessions with Bonny.
Learn more about coaching with Bonny.
Are you friendly as a string teacher? Well, of course you are, I hope. Why do I ask, you may be asking yourself? The reason is, we often have skewed views of ourselves and the way we interact with our students and colleagues. The real question to ask is, “Am I friendly toward myself?”
That is, have you ever tried to be more kind and friendly toward your own being? How about toward your body? We teach all kinds of things regarding how to use our bodies to hold the instrument and to produce tone yet we may neglect to observe how this comes across.
I was reading about someone having a private yoga class where the instructor told her to mentally state to herself “…my friend” after each breath, such as “Breathe in, my friend…breathe out, my friend…” which really altered the experience. The writer then went on to implement these phrases throughout the day, and remarked what a huge difference it made in her life!
I’m going to give it a try. There are so many motions we go through in a day, and I mean physical ones, where we could introduce either this very phrase or another that exerts positivity. Just imagine how much fun your student will have when you do something with this, like “Listen to your tone, Jane, my friend!”
Will you give it a try with me? I’m willing to try this out on myself to start with and I’d love some company. What do you think? Is it important to you to be friendly as a string teacher?
If you are not already in our free private group on Facebook for Royal String Teachers, jump on board now for glittery inspirational string teacher ideas and frameworks while I’m still absorbing all the costs! https://www.facebook.com/groups/rstafreearea
The past two and a half years have been such an unruly giant squid of experiences and emotions. At the beginning of this, we were on a trip to the US and only made it back into China by the skin of our teeth, so the saying goes, before quarantines and lockdowns became commonplace. After an initial very quiet couple of months from Chinese New Year 2020 until April that year, we taught online. And then, although we wore (and still wear) masks in public spaces, with a local health declaration code and travel record we were able to go back to in-person working and teaching, even domestic travel was possible, although sometimes difficult.
In August of 2020 and in 2021 we were went on holidays inside China, to Yunnan and Gansu, both of which I 100% recommend. Although on our trip to Gansu, there were a few outbreaks around China, including in our province, so we were constantly on alert as to whether we would be put into quarantine, sent home, or something else. Day by day, we managed to fulfill our itinerary and made it home unscathed. Nevertheless, the worst was yet to come.
We even managed to participate in a few concerts in Shanghai with Shanghai Baroque Soloists, although things started to get more complicated last winter when, after the first rehearsal in November, my school forbade me to continue to go to Shanghai. Then another concert should have taken place in March this year, but that’s when things got silly in Shanghai. Bernd had his bass with him and was staying overnight in a hotel because his workplace is also in Shanghai; he’d planned to keep it with him while going to the rehearsals and concert. Then, suddenly things went south. No more commuting.
The city said in a news brief it was not going to lock down. Then, with escalating cases, it declared it would hold two 5-day lockdowns in stages: first in Pudong, then in Puxi starting a few days later on April 1. Then we all know what happened next. Roads were closed, people were locked in place and could not leave their residences. For two months, some could not go outside, and some for longer than that.
After about seven weeks of this, I trudged over in person to my neighborhood committee to ask for help. I was told that only the people who needed their doctor in Suzhou or to go to hospital here had priority, but an application for Bernd to come back would be made. Then the wheels began to turn. He did obtain permission to come back after a few more days, but there was a special process to follow. He had to have a negative nucleic acid test within 24 hours, and then be met by someone at the border between Suzhou and Shanghai where he would be “escorted” to a quarantine hotel. Then they sealed his van, and he stayed in his room for seven days. Next, he had the option to remain there for the second week of being monitored or return home, with the caveat that he quarantined alone at home. After such a long time away, we agreed I would move out for the week.
Thanks to some generous and dear friends, I was able to stay with them and remain in our district. I’ve been teaching online this whole semester though we do have a few weeks in person now to end the term. Suzhou has not survived totally unscathed either. While the entire city was not on “lockdown” per se, the only real difference was that we were able to go outside to walk, but even public parks were closed for some weeks. Also we did have the luxury of buying groceries the whole time, though there were a few worrying moments when it seemed that people had bought up all the fresh foods. (Things were quickly replenished within a few days.) Imports have definitely been disrupted though.
As Suzhou opened a bit (although we are still taking nucleic acid tests every day or two and showing proof of negative nucleic acid tests, travel histories and local health codes), some friends held an opening for their music and costume studio, arranged by Zhang Zhiyan. These are the same friends we played with for an East-West concert combining traditional Chinese instruments with Bernd’s and my bowed stringed instruments. This was the first gathering and musical playing together we have done in months!
When we walked in, I felt stunned in a very lovely way, like I was transported into a timeless zone of ethereal music and styles. It was almost as if I stepped backward straight into history, to several hundred years ago. Some of the ladies you see here are costume designers who created their stunning replica apparel. Here is a clip of music and photos from the party. The instrument in the background is the guqin, played by Sophia. Her teacher, Miss Cao and their sons also performed.
Other instruments that were played were the yue qin (moon-shaped lute) and bamboo flute.
Why learn to play the violin? Or another stringed instrument, and why should we teach this?
Learning an instrument is a massively great use of time which requires daily attention. But what you reap in rewards are values which truly enrich our lives, things like discipline, delayed gratification, patience, kindness, self-awareness, coordination, fun, respect, accomplishment, culture, aesthetics, musical expression and self-confidence to name a few!
One of the most important benefits of becoming a competent musician is the ability to learn to listen carefully, a skill which we urgently need more of today.
Wait a sec. That was really important.
>>Read more here WHY LEARN MUSIC.
Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to share it. AND, just for you, get a Museletter, the string teacher inspirational quarterly which is filled with positivity and ideas you can use. It’s free, ad-free, comes with a no-spam guarantee and hatches just once per quarter.
Tone has another side that’s too often missed, hence this post. (Part I is the previous post on this blog.) What happens when we dictate everything we want as teachers for the student, and don’t notice our own tone in the process? What happens when we demand things from the parents of our students if we overlook their overloaded, overworked, stressed, or just plain ordinarily tiring lives? Our message gets lost, is what happens.
As teachers we should not only deliver great content, but we have to become aware that students are human beings with lives and needs extending far beyond what we see in the lesson. We don’t need to know everything about them; however, what we often struggle with is remembering to consider that our students and their families have demands on them, needs, expectations and lives going on outside of their instrumental music-learning. Life is messy. Students and their families are not spared from this.
So instead of rushing to a conclusion about why a student isn’t progressing the way we hope he would–or even worse, asking him to leave our studio—let’s try to be aware that there are reasons for everything, including our interpretation of poor progress. Let me first consider my own tone: am I really aware of the person I was hired to teach? Is my tone coming from my ego, hoping to serve my wish for wonderful, hours-long practicing, unfailingly devoted, competition-winning students (to make me look good), or is my tone coming from a place of kindness and love?
Obviously, there is a time and a place for being firm with students and standing up for standards in our teaching and for ourselves. That isn’t the tone I’m talking about here.
We teachers occasionally forget we are not teaching in a vacuum, and the tone becomes one of “I think this, therefore everyone should also think the same.” This happens when we don’t bother to re-read or revise what we wrote, nor attempt to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes before posting. It is even a possibility that we choose to refrain from posting something at all, keeping our opinions to ourselves, once we look at our tone from another perspective. Tone matters enormously and it’s something which is all too easy to get wrong or for readers or listeners to misunderstand if we don’t give it a second thought. Heck, it’s still easy to be misunderstood after four or five revisions.
My advice for prospective students would be to take some time to look up public threads where string teachers discuss their work and form their own opinion about what sort of tone they would want from a teacher. I tell people all the time that they should find a good teacher, but first try to find out their personality before making a long-term commitment. Will it be a teacher who has the ‘my way or the highway’ approach, or will it be a teacher who’s willing to meet the student where the student is right now?
Tone is also reflected perfectly in how we engage with our fellow teachers. We most certainly aren’t alone teaching in the 21st century. Wherever we reside on this planet, we have colleagues, when connected to the internet, and even when not. The way we are with each other, with colleagues known and unknown, is a part of our working life.
Collegiality is the idea of making a shared working environment both amicable and productive, as well as somewhere we’re able to listen and be listened to. In other words, tone is also the way we use words when we talk to or write to each other. (Read more about collegiality in the corporate environment here >>Collegiality.) Are we going to rely mainly on socially acceptable yet rather impersonal e-communication or would we rather set the tone of approachability and welcome a conversation?
Although we’re told that appearance is everything, what we look like and what we show people (also online) is not who we are. How we look is just the box that delivers a present. Have you ever received a beautiful present, wrapped with fancy, colorful paper, tied up with a gorgeous bow, and got disappointed by what was inside because it was something unequal to the outside? To put it another way, our tone is what people discover when they open the box.
Think about the saying, “People forget what you teach them, but they never forget how you made them feel.” Some give people doubt, anger, overload, and fear just because they lack awareness of their tone; others give the opportunity for joy, beauty, hope, and kindness. Tone is that ethereal, exquisite thing that shows the world who we really are, whether coming from our instrument, from our voice, or even from the words we choose. So, we really need to take the time to re-read any text we plan to give to our students or their families, or even what we (might) post on social media.
Someone long ago posed a few questions to ask before posting online, which bear repeating or even placing on the wall next to our workspace, because they’re useful for all sorts of communication. These are certainly worth framing!
Though we’re living in the information age, it’s more like we’re living in the TMI-age (too much information age), so wherever we can squeeze the best out of our tone to streamline it, make it kinder, more accurate, and more relevant, we should do it! If we want to grow into our best teaching selves, our tone needs to reflect an awareness of others, as well as serving our own teaching needs. The above questions can help guide our message and our tone.
The thing is, each one of us can choose to make the free and conscious effort to improve our teaching tone and grow into being the leader that teaching requires of us. Let us learn to be kind and creative, with our voices and our instruments, using the thoughtful tone our students need most.
If you haven’t grabbed your September Museletter yet, swipe yours here! >>Museletter133
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