Don’t Dream It… Be It! Systemic Support for Music Teachers

Music teachers often feel like they never have “enough.” Enough space, time, money, instruments…It quickly morphs into feeling like you don’t have enough dignity or respect. Which means you feel like YOU aren’t “enough.” And that makes you… tired. Exhausted. Burnt out.

I’m not here to say you should be grateful for what you have and not rock the boat. Quite the opposite, in fact. The cold, hard truth is… we’ve been conditioned to think music programs shouldn’t have enough. That there’s some sort of pride in being scrappy and “making do.”

Nuh-uh. It doesn’t have to be that way. 

“But not in MY school, Allison! It’s just IMPOSSIBLE!”

Ok, then. It is impossible. Stop trying (I hope you can hear my sarcasm).

Getting the systemic support you need

Before you prepare to bring a request to the “powers that be” you need to have a few things:

  • Solid evidence that what you’re asking administration for is what is needed and will work
  • An unshakeable belief that you deserve and can have “enough” for your program
  • Achievable methods for consistently demonstrating that your program is indispensable 

And how do you get all that? 

  • Get connected to your community. Really connected. Listen to your students and their families. It’s just the beginning, but it’s the step you can’t skip.  
  • Be in community with other music teachers. Go ahead and vent about administrative drama– then work on solutions together. 
  • Get yourself to the best professional development. Yeah, there’s a catch-22 there… I need the administrative support to get the PD. Start small! This is how you get evidence that what you want to do with your students will work (and be worth the money). It’s not an easy part of the job (I don’t have to tell you that!) but it’s even harder when you feel alone. 
  • Reject the idea that you’ll have have/be/do “enough” The job of a teacher– especially a music teacher– is never done. There’s always an expectation to go “above and beyond.” And music is endless! Release yourself from the idea that you have to teach every type of music or concept, that you have to create new opportunities for your students at the detriment to your well-being, that you have to be everything for everyone. You don’t. You can’t. And you’ll always have a wish list of new things you’d like to have for your students. But– you are enough. You can do amazing things already! And there is money, time, and support for your program already out there. Go get it!

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