This is part 7 of 7 from the blog and video series 7 Steps to Attract More Students and Grow Your Violin Studio (What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Studio 10 Years Ago).
The entire series is available as a download in the Music for Young Violinist store.
STEP 7/7: WHY MIND, BODY & SOUL SELF-CARE MATTERS
As a violin teacher you are selling an experience with yourself. In order to optimize this experience for both you and your new potential students, you need to glow from the inside out. Since you are a 3 part being: mind, body & soul, make sure each part of you is being nourished.
Consider this metaphor to help you retain why your self-care matters when building a violin studio:
"Everything grows towards the sun.”
The brighter you keep your light shining, the easier it will be to attract new students and grow your teaching studio. Another concept that may help you understand how self-care is connected to your success in building a violin studio is using the hunter and the shaman analogy:
If a hunter comes to the shaman and says
“there are no animals out there to hunt”
the shaman responds that they are out there
and it is something inside the hunter
that needs to be adjusted.
In this analogy we think of the hunter as being the violin teacher and the animals as being the students we seek to connect with. When something is out of alignment we may not be able to attract our future students. This is why I feel so strongly that self-care and the introspection and intention that comes along with this needs to be prioritized when seeking to grow a studio. Here are some considerations for your mind, body and soul.
MIND - As a teacher, the inspiration you feed yourself will translate into an inspired teacher which will spark inspired students who can’t help but tell everyone they know about their amazing violin teacher.
So, how do you stay inspired? I think of INspiration coming from the INside out. Everyone reading this will have their own formula that taps into unlocking this force. I love the brain and have always been passionate about learning the latest and greatest in what science discovers about how the brain works and how we learn. I make it a regular habit of watching TED talks, reading books (like The Talent Code) and going to conferences. Not only was I nourishing myself and growing as a teacher but I could bring these fresh new ideas into my teaching studio. Pushing myself to grow helped me maintain my enthusiasm and this translated into energetic and creative lessons that my students and I equally enjoyed.
BODY - Just like our students need constant reminders of the basics, you too are getting a gentle reminder of how important it is to stay hydrated, well rest and maintain balanced nutrition. I personally repurposed a wine bottle holder to carry 6 water bottles in my car so that I never get dehydrated. Prioritize an early bedtime and substitute screens before bed with a book or goal setting journal.
I have a health condition that benefits from avoiding all sugar so I make almost all of my food. I bring this up because my favorite part of creating things in the kitchen is making healthy snacks. Not only is this fun for me to make things like sugar free chocolate, but I am never left making poor choices and depleting my health from poor nutrition.
ADDED BENEFIT - Making your health a priority supports a healthy immune system and if you work with children this needs to be a priority for your work so you don’t end up catching every bug that walks in your studio.
SOUL - I refer to the soul as the “4 letter S word” because, like another socially unacceptable 4 letter S word, we never use this term in our professional lives. This is understandable because the soul for many of us represents a highly intimate relationship we have with our creator and thus is deeply personal and not a casual conversation we have with an 8 year old prospective student. I believe another reason why we don’t have dialogues about this should because it is hard to define, see and measure so it’s just simpler to forget about it and avoid integrating it into the work we do as music teachers.
For me, the soul is the nucleus of everything else. When I feed my soul it adds a purpose behind my teaching and adds a power that is hard to articulate with words but is so real that I physically feel it and so do my students!
How do we take care of our soul then? The easiest starting place I can recommend is to make it a goal to attend at least one concert every season. Next, creating a personal statement for your life that serves as a guiding principle for your soul. This can be similar to your personal teaching statement but will have a more encompassing feel. Many people already have something like this but may not be conscious of it. I state mine on my ABOUT page:
1- We are here to do something great with the gift of our lives
2- We are here to serve others
I chose the first pillar to guide my soul after hearing a cellist perform. He came to the Oregon Bach Festival one summer and had a solo performance scheduled every night for 5 nights in a row. Each performance was a different repertoire and each performance was memorized! It blew my mind that a human could do this and it sparked something in my soul. The obvious conclusion was that we as humans are great and here to do something great.
I chose to make serving others my second guiding principle by tapping into my feelings. I had a difficult time period in my life and I noticed that the only thing that made me feel better was to help others and so I have kept this as a principle.
I hosted a presentation by a woman who performed concerts in war zones to understand why she did this. You can watch ART & HUMANITY IN THE MIDST OF WAR: The Story of the Sarajevo String Quartet with Dr. Dijana Ihas by clicking here.
I also wrote personal essays for my eyes only with the goal of understanding my spiritual role in this intricate world. I use writing as a way to “connect the dots” between feelings and intellect. All of this fed my soul, gave my teaching more meaning and a tangible injection of energy that is a valuable investment of your time and resources.
How do you know if your self care is adequate? If you have been teaching for a while and feel that you are getting too automated in your approach it’s time to evaluate your self-care routine:
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Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!