This podcast is a collection of creative ideas, practical strategies, and thoughtful observations from the field of music teaching and learning. Music educator Ashley Danyew will dive into topics like how we learn, developing musicianship, time management, teaching sequences, planning tools and strategies, the art of teaching, practicing, and the creative process, and share personal stories from her own experiences and observations. You’ll find creative and pedagogically-sound teaching tips; fresh, new approaches you can use in your teaching; and insight into a few tried-and-true systems and creative processes designed to help you do your best work.
5 Things to Do When You Feel Burnt Out
Researchers suggest that twenty to thirty percent of teachers in America have moderately high to high levels of burnout (source). Maybe you know the feeling:
Tired, mentally and emotionally.Distracted and uninspired.Going through the motions.Trouble making decisions.
These are warning signs.
I read a really interesting book earlier this year called (appropriately enough) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. It's written by twin sisters Emily Nagoski, a health educator and researcher, and Amelia Nagoski, a choral conductor.
In the book, they write that Herbert Freudenberger first coined the word burnout as a technical term in 1975. Three components defined it:
Emotional exhaustion—the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long;
Depersonalization—the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion; and
Decreased sense of accomplishment—an unconquerable sense of futility: feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.
Why does this happen? Why do we get burnt out and is there anything we can do about it? Today, I'm sharing five practical things you can do when you feel stressed or burnt out plus a few of my go-to resources.
What Does Creative Music Teaching Look Like?
There's been a lot of talk in recent years about creative teaching strategies and being a creative teacher. But what does that really mean? What does it look like in practice?
Of course, there's a certain amount of creativity naturally embedded in the work of making music together. Music is a creative art! But what does creative teaching mean? Is it inherent or is it something we need to develop? Is it something we bring into our teaching space or is it something we co-construct with our students?
Does this sound a little too research-y? Once a researcher, always a researcher, I guess!
Here's a simpler description:
In our world today, creative teaching seems to mean having an arsenal of note-naming worksheets, interactive Google Slide activities, and dice board games to reinforce every new skill or concept. Some of these tools are great and technology has certainly changed the way we teach and present new information, especially in the past few years.
The problem is the quality.
What are the educational goals or objectives of these games and activities? Are they musical (this is a big one for me)? Do they help the learner develop their musicianship skills? Do they provide the right amount of challenge?
These are questions I've been pondering in my own teaching this year and today, I'm sharing some of what I've been reading and learning about creative music teaching in practice.
The Pokémon Piano Lesson
I have a new 1st-grade student this fall, a younger sibling of another student. Their temperaments and personalities could not be more different and I feel like I'm still learning how best to relate to the younger brother in lessons.
Aaron is very smart and artistic but also has a rebellious streak. Sometimes he'll come into his lesson and say he doesn't want to play the piano or he'll resist reviewing a concept or piece from the previous week and give me only a half-hearted attempt.
After one particularly challenging lesson, I made a plan to incorporate a few more fun activities the following week—movement, creativity prompts, and musical discovery. Little did I know that Aaron would bring all the creative inspiration we needed for a 30-minute lesson: a binder of Pokémon cards.
Simplified Organization for the New School Year
It's back-to-school season, which means cups of hot tea in the mornings, new music to learn and explore, a new teaching schedule, and a few new organizational tools and strategies to test out, per usual.
The start of a new school year is a great opportunity to reset, refocus, and try new things. I talked about this back in Ep. 006 - Four Things I'm Doing Differently in My Studio. It's interesting to look back and see how much has changed and what I've learned in two-and-a-half years!
Of course, there are certain parts of my routine that I enjoy coming back to—things I look forward to picking up again—but there are always a few things I’m ready to change or alter in my teaching or my business. You, too?
Today, I'm sharing an inside look at three big studio projects I worked on this summer—repertoire planning, technique organization, and an aural skills video library—and how I'm implementing them into my studio this fall.
What Every Music Teacher Should Know About Mindsets
I first heard about this book from one of my grad school professors.
We were sitting around a long table one snowy January evening at our annual dinner for current and prospective doctoral students. I asked my professor about books he was reading lately and he named several including Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and Carol Dweck's Mindset.
It's been on my list since then (let's just say it's been a few years), but I finally read it last year.
I should preface this by saying that I was already familiar with Dweck's research, having read several of her articles on mindset theory for research projects when I was a student, so the concepts she outlined in the book weren't new to me.
I have to admit that I got a little bogged down in the middle of the book and had to put it away for a while, but I pulled it back out after a few months and finally finished it.
Today, I want to share my four biggest takeaways from Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to give you an idea of what it's about and how we can learn from it as musicians, teachers, and leaders.
Buddy Lesson Activities Based on Piano Safari Friends
This summer, I've been teaching buddy lessons to two rising 1st graders. One started lessons with me in January and the other just started last month. They are both using the method book, Piano Safari Friends, which I have really enjoyed teaching this year.
Both students have had 30-minute lessons with me almost weekly this summer and since I was able to schedule them back to back, I'm doing 25 minutes with one student, 10 minutes with both, and then 25 minutes with the other student.
You could certainly do longer: 25-20-25, which would give each student a 45-minute lesson slot in your schedule and an opportunity to get through 4-6 activities during the buddy lesson portion. With only 10 minutes, I plan 2-3 activities each week.
Back in Ep. 18, I shared a glimpse into an elementary buddy lesson in my studio—the types of activities we did together and how I facilitated things. Today, I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how I organized our buddy lesson activities and sequenced them from week to week.
Short and sweet teacher tips
These episodes are power-packed little gems! Always well thought and clearly expressed. Ashley is an inspiration and blessing!
Quality tips/tricks/ideas for the music educator
I honestly really appreciate the organization of each show. While they are short, they are packed with information that is relevant and efficient! I also appreciate the quality behind the pedagogy. It’s rare that to find such a well-rounded content. Pianolady5all around!
Great resources and encouragement!
I’m so excited to find this podcast and Ashley’s website. I needed this encouragement for my teaching. I also really appreciate the resources she mentions. Her podcasts are short enough to make them fit in the time for cleaning!