Learn 4 ways to keep you and your students healthy.
Includes a hand washing video tutorial by a registered nurse and a free download.
I have heard the statement above from several parents in my studio over the years. While I understand this sentiment, it can be more complicated because children can show symptoms of being sick very rapidly. For example, they can go to school normally presenting, feeling well and then come down with a fever halfway through the school day. This is not the fault of the parent. It does not help that many parents have inflexible policies with their work obligations that make staying home with a sick child difficult to organize.
That being said, there absolutely is truth in the fact that if someone is sick and stays home, it will prevent the pathogenic "bug" from being shared and infecting others. It is the timeless golden rule "do onto others as you would have done to yourself."
As a music teacher and adult, it is your responsibility to keep your studio healthy. Below are 4 ways you can accomplish this.
Please also review the blog posts:
Thank You for Washing Your Hands Before Your Lesson
How to Keep Your Studio Healthy
for additional resources + download a free hand washing sign PDF on the FREEBIES page to post in your studio/school.
1- Create studio policies where neither teacher nor student feels obligated to come to lessons when sick. Studio policies need built-in flexibility to allow both participants to refrain from attending if they are sick without fear of financial loss.
Also, consider adding a "Winter Break" to your school year. Starting in 2016, I began adding a winter break to my studio during the second week of February. I chose this time of year because this was when most absences due to illness occurred. Also, I believe the winter season should be more restful than other times. Tuition remained the same, so I did not see a reduction in my income. Both students and I used this as a time to take care of our health with extra rest and self-care, resulting in less sickness in my studio.
2- Teach and enforce proper hand washing. Proper hand washing lasts 20 seconds, requires friction and specific techniques. Your students should be expected to wash their hands:
1- Before a lesson.
2- If they touch a mucous membrane (such as the nose) or other body fluid.
3- If they sneeze or cough.
Young students will need to be instructed on how to properly wash their hands and observed while learning this skill.
3- Teachers need to model their expectations for their students and take responsibility for the wellness of their studio. If you, as the teacher, are not feeling well, then you are expected to stay in bed. Again, this leads back to the importance of having policies supporting you so that your income does not suffer while you are recuperating.
You are apt to feel better at all times by instilling healthy practices such as prioritizing rest, staying hydrated with water and eating proper nutrition.
4- Use technology such as Skype to have a video lesson instead of a face-to-face lesson. Other internet lesson solutions include FaceTime and Zoom. Alternatively, you can have your student email or text a video to review. Always aim to build into your teaching techniques how to practice so you have embedded clear expectations for successful independent home practice.
On this note, if you have not observed your students practice, I urge you not to make the same mistake I did. Finally, after 20 years of teaching, I spent 1 week watching my students practice (learn more about The Practice Experiment), which was shocking. After I watched my students practice, only then did I know how to create a clarity of expectation for the students to reach their highest level.
Have a tip to share for how you keep your studio healthy?
Please share in the comments below. Thanks!
Learn how to wash your hands like a nurse, the silver linings associated with the current state of affairs and a fun fact about germs.
The 1st doctor to promote handwashing was eventually committed to an asylum because the concept that something invisible could kill people literally sounded "crazy." The story gets a little more complicated because we do not know if he had other co-existing conditions that led to his decline. However, what is clear is that his promotion of handwashing was not taken seriously and he was mocked for this and for cleaning surgical instruments before use.
But, think about it, had we not been taught about germs and someone was talking about invisible things all over the environment that you could not see, touch, smell or taste and that could harm or even kill you, how would you respond? It does sound irrational given the context. If you are curious to learn more about the Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis who tried to promote handwashing click here for a neat article by NPR.
Since we know better now about the impact of germs, I am reaching out to share some more resources to help support your wellness and the health of your teaching studio. It's hard to escape the prominence of promoting handwashing right now and for good reasons. Handwashing, when done properly, removes pathogens (pathogen is the fancy word for describing germs that harm us).
Violinists are known for loving technique so I made the short video below for all of you combining my violinistic love of technique with my training as a registered nurse.
Handwashing is so important in healthcare that I have been tested on my handwashing skills. I feel strongly about handwashing because I had to learn the hard way. Back in 2015, I contracted pneumonia which led to a $5,000 ER bill and 3 weeks of lost work revenue. It was at that point that I started taking my health and the health of my studio more seriously by implementing handwashing policies.
As unsettling as a time period like this can be, there are also silver linings and one of the biggest is that we are all connecting with our value systems. It is startlingly clear that health is one of our most important resources. May this time period be a way to honor the miracle we live in and commit to taking care of our health as best as we can.
If you need some additional resources:
You probably have insurance for your car, home, and violin, but are you protecting your most valuable asset?
The asset I am referring to is you and your students. Keep reading to help ingrain the importance of prioritizing health, learn how to properly wash hands and download some free hand washing signs for your studio.
Visit the FREEBIES page to download a hand washing sign for your violin studio.
Now, as a registered nurse (RN), I feel even more qualified and vigilant about the importance of handwashing because the evidence is clear that we can prevent spreading and contracting diseases by properly washing hands. I wash and/or sanitize my hands about 200 times every shift to prevent the spreading of disease.
It is so important to properly wash my hands as a nurse that I must be tested on my ability to perform adequate handwashing techniques properly. While you may not need to adhere quite to this level, you would be wise to increase your handwashing personally and your requirements for your students and/or children.
After working with children for 25 years, I can not stress enough the importance of requiring students to wash their hands before lessons and when they touch their noses or sneeze during lessons. However, this is not enough because just like the violin needs to be taught, so does handwashing. Proper handwashing requires friction, techniques (like overlaid fingers in the picture below) and an adequate length of time. You can help make this fun by having your students sing their favorite violin piece in their heads to ensure they are washing their hands long enough.
Not only do we have a duty to protect children, but if you are a self-employed violin teacher, you must keep yourself healthy by installing and enforcing handwashing policies. One year, I got run down by being too busy and not getting enough rest. This led to a weakened immune system, contracting pneumonia, leading to a $5,000 emergency room bill and 3 weeks where I could not work (= lost revenue). You can not afford this, so please take care of your most valuable asset - YOU.
If students are sick, you can offer to reschedule their lessons or have a Skype lesson. If you are sick, get the proper rest and stay home. This is the right thing to do and the fastest way to resume your health.
This blog is re-post from 4 years ago:
Germs are everywhere!
If you are a violin teacher who specializes in working with young children then germs are a reality of your professional experience. Your students are still learning and mastering the rules of hygiene, your work is hands-on and you likely serve students from multiple school populations which further increases your exposure to the bugs floating around.
But, I have good news: our brilliant bodies come equipped with both an immune system to fend off germs and a brain to help us make wise choices and develop healthy habits.
When I had my unfortunate visit to the emergency room last year from contacting pneumonia, I asked my nurse how come she did not get sick when working with ill patients all day and here was her response:
"I wash my hands before and after every patient. I wash my hands when I think about it and sometimes I wash my hands just because I am in a habit of washing my hands.
We can not control everything in life but we can wash our hands frequently to optimize our health and we can ask our students to do the same. Please remember that everything needs to be taught in life and this includes hand washing and it may be worthwhile to spend a few minutes to make sure your students are doing this properly. When the students are healthy, I am healthy and my entire studio is healthy.
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!