Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts on being kind, hour workers and recital recuperation

This is a rant I posted on FB the first week of June.  

Treat other's as you yourself wish to be treated. I think we should all start reminding our youth of this. Today and Yesterday I witnessed a young lady (high school age) give a barista the what for about not getting a bag to put her oatmeal in and this morning that her bagel wasn't toasted enough. Both with high levels of attitude and entitlement. They were demeaning and rude. Both times I watched and listened as they talked with their companions about the stupidity of the people behind the counter, and then watched them saunter over to get into what I assumed was mommy or daddy's BMW and Audi. I personally visit this Starbucks every day. I know everyone's name and background. Not all of us get to borrow mom and dad's expensive car so that we can feel important. Most of those people behind that counter are working more than one job, putting themselves through school. Just like I did. And Jay and I owned a BMW. We paid cash for it. So here is a warning, I will be telling the next little s*** off if I see him or her treating someone badly just because they might not have mommy and daddy's money buying them a coffee. Ok, rant over. Carry on.

And  I recently had the honor to be on the 'other side' for two weeks.  

(photo of my in my regular element)

In the first two weeks of this month, I had agreed to help an old friend, at a business I had worked for over 25 years ago.  I added 20 hours per week to my very busy schedule and an overly busy time of year.  We had recitals including 102 students this past Sunday.

There was more stress for me in those 20 hours each week than in my own busy life.  It also added stress to my household.  DH and I have a fine balance, helping care for my father and still trying to guide our 22 yo daughter.  This really threw a wrench in our works.  I was up til 11 or 12 each night preparing food, doing laundry, dealing with parents emails and working on social things for the business.

I was the one who opened up this other business, alone anywhere from 5 minutes to one day 15 and another day almost 30!  This was not known to me at the time of my agreement.  There were things I could not do that needed the permanent staff.  I could start something, but did not have the authority to finish.  I was treated rudely by all different people.  I was hung up on. I was berated for the fact the director and assistant director were away.  I was insulted that I was not authorized to complete a task. People would phone and give their first name and then get angry when I asked for their last names.   I could not believe how nasty some people were.  I was hung up on only for people to call back hoping to get someone else.  How disappointing for them that it was me they got, lol.  It didn't matter the walk of life of these mean spirited people, some where well to do, some where not.  One was so nasty that I made mention I own my own business and I can leave right now and I won't complete this task for you at all.  In my mind I felt obligated to my promise to my friend, but not to be verbally abused.  They couldn't fire me after all!

I was also disappointed that I had to wait until after the return of the director for me to be compensated.  And the compensation!  Certainly not worth it.  I am blessed that I make a living that is enough to care for our entire household if need be.  That we can take our mini vacations and rarely put things on credit cards.  That I have successfully paid off most of my DH's pre-me credit transgressions since we bought my childhood home in 2008.  I guess I am spoiled by my pay rate in my private position, but I also have to remember it took me almost 30 years of teaching to reach this scale.

I have a new found respect for people making minimum or just above minimum wage. The amount of stress in those two weeks at this other position made the amount almost insulting.     So, I guess the moral of this part of this long post is always treat people with kindness and respect.  Whether they are an educator of higher learning or a washer of cars.  We are all human and should be treated as such.  

(photo from recent recital)

I have owned my own business for over 15 years.   I built it from a few private students and a few group classes I did at private schools. Previously I managed other private music studios and performed in a group setting.  All money those first few years were rolled back into buying instruments for the classes, building my website, advertising etc.    The first year we made a true profit was 2007, and that year I also had major liver surgery, so it was a double win in my opinion. This was the year I left all other forms of employment and focused just on our studio.

My studio now has four additional teachers. I feel obligated to these educators to make sure their schedules are full. They work for themselves, we are like a co-op.     I do all the AR/AP/Advertising/Marketing (includes web and social updates and newsletters) Planning of new masterclasses and 90% of recital and performance planning.  On top of this I have the largest teaching schedule, and I love all that I do.   I will make mention that some of my schedule does not pay for my services, to make sure their special needs children get the joys and benefits of music.

Yesterday DH and I were both off.  It is our recital recuperation day. The only thing we planned was to go buy a new toaster, LOL.  Our toaster oven is on it's last legs.  We did pick one up at Kohl's using some Kohl's cash, 15% off coupon and it was on sale.  A beautiful RED (to match my other counter top appliances) 4 slice high end brand for only 23.00 out the door!

 We had a few snafu's on Sunday but I stayed almost on time (just three minutes off for the second recital).  We did lose our 10 minute break in between programs due to the snafu's, but that's ok.

We had an string/woodwind ensemble (mine) and a vocal ensemble (another educator) and 98 soloists on strings/piano/woodwinds perform.  (4 last minute pull outs)  It was a lovely day.  I was very proud.  I had one senior graduate, which is always bittersweet.  This one was more so, as her mother was a good friend of mine and passed away 3 years ago.  I had taught her two youngest girls.  I don't know who was crying more, her father or me.

I have a wonderful family whose father is a bio-physicist by day and a photographer every other moment of his life.  He donates his time and many hours after recital to provide all the families with professional level photos of their musicians.  I am always flattered by how he makes me look.  I never 'hate' my picture when he is behind the lens.  I am sharing with you two of his shots of me.

This is the position I enjoy and thrive in.  I am truly blessed to be able to go to a studio (we never call it work) where I love what I do every day.  Very few can say that.  I'm not perfect, and there certainly are very not perfect days.  But overall, I would not trade it for the world.  And I will always try to treat others who work so many different jobs to try to make ends meet with respect and kindness.


  1. Sandie, I love how you were able to turn the bad situation you were in for those two weeks into gratification for your own true job/calling.
    As a parent of two musicians, I have to tell you that at least Papa and I can tell (now) when a teacher is "in it" for the right reasons. It shines through, trust me. I am sure that is why your business is so successful!
    Guppy 2's garage band teacher is like you - he has a business where he is a teacher and navigates a group of other teachers within his business. His enthusiasm and sheer love of kids and music is what keeps our respect and business.
    Guppy 1's vocal coach is that way as well. He will teach you how to sing whatever you want. Bottom line is he wants his students to succeed in whatever genre they desire.
    Of course we learned this the hard way - keeping both girls at one studio for far too long where the teacher couldn't deliver what he promised and cared more about the bottom line: money and his image. Important lesson learned.

    1. TrayceeBee, it's always good to be rereminded (is that a word? lol) of how much I love what I do.

  2. Sandie - I have both my kids (low brass players) with a private teacher. He teaches at a small school but does great things with them. We tried a well known music school once but they were so high sales pressure it turned me off completely. Going to the music store for lessons by our teacher is much less stressful for the kids

    1. it's great when you find a teacher who connects with our kids and goes that extra step or mile. I always ask potentials to come meet me (or another educator) at no charge to see if we click. We don't always, and that's ok. I'm also month to month, no commitments, no high pressure. I have seen a trend (when meeting with potential new members to to the teaching staff) that some of them are just in it to make a buck. Educators as I'm sure you are one of have to have a passion for teaching. I'm very happy that you found a great brass teacher for your children .


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