Music Education: Why you must recharge over the summer

The school year is over, and with it comes time away from the teaching. Take time to recharge and refresh yourself before next school year.

The most joyous time of year has arrived! It is the time when the halls clear, the rooms are cleaned, and the faculty meetings end. Most doors will not be opened for several weeks, months even. And yet, the parking lot is not empty. There is always one car there.

Yes. Teachers work hard, even if they are seen as glorified babysitters for 180 days a year. They take their work home daily, shuffle through pages of math equations with missing plus or minus signs, or try to unscramble the text-speak that students mistakenly typed in an eight-page essay. Few put in hours of teachers of music education. The car you see is likely their’s.

The extra rehearsals. Creating content to be practiced, studied, and performed for thousands of people throughout the year. Working summer hours which go unnoticed and unpaid, just to make sure the student that cannot afford their trombone as one to play. Planning every detail of the entire school year over a few months, because one year is never like the one before.

Music Education teachers know all this going into their careers, and still choose it. Or maybe it chose them. Regardless, taking time to recharge over the summer is crucial to your mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Lesson of the tune-up

I am not the world’s greatest handy man. There are tasks that my wife knows I can do, and others that she just does not want me to touch. But, one of my weekly chores is mowing the yard. It has long be a favorite of mine, even mowing my Mamaw Tina’s yard for her when I was in middle and high school.

Find a place to recharge!
Photo Credit: Shelley Kuhlmeyer

Our backyard is rather large. Typically, it takes an hour and 15 minutes or so, and a full tank of gas, to turn the think grass into a pleasurable play area. I push mow. Always have.

Recently, I noticed my mower coughing a bit and not wanting to start. Fuel consumption was quicker than I liked, but I did not think much of it. Until the day it no longer started. Now, I have a basic understanding of parts engines, knowing that things like filters and plugs exist. But, I am not a mechanic. That day I was forced to learn something new.

My inquisitiveness peaked as I unscrewed the shiny silver bolt on the side of the engine. With each turn, clogs of dirt fell. It was revealed to me that the air filter was no longer a filter, but a graveyard of dirt. Yep. Need to replace that, so it was time to shuttle off to Home Depot.

While I am not the most thrifty shopper in the world, I know how to get more for my money. All I needed was a $7 air filter. But wait, there is engine oil which I probably should do as well. So, looking at $12 for two items.

Then I saw a box that included the filter and oil, along with a spark plug ($5), and some fuel line cleaner. Cost of the box, $13. Sold. I come home, change the filter. Added oil. Figure out how to removed the spark plug, which was now completely black. Changed the oil. Done. Tune up complete.

Why recharge?

Now that I have bored you with my tune-up story, here is the point. Today, I started mowing my lawn at 7:58 AM. It was suppose to rain all day, and I wanted to beat the weather. In what took an hour and a half, and more than one take of gas (let’s say 1.5 tanks), I completed in one hour flat without refilling my fuel. Full yard, done.

A tuned up, recharged mower makes work more efficient.

I did nothing different. No new pattern of path while mowing. I followed my normal routine. It was the mower that was better. The tune-up that I provided recharged it’s power and efficiency. Simply, making sure the parts were in good order made the task less strenuous.

Music education teachers, you need a tune up. You need to recharge yourself. Each of us have our own activities that fuel us, or items that spark our energy. But, we often let them just remain as they are and never pay attention to how they effect us.

Furthermore, our filters are often filled with the gunk of rehearsals, budgets, meeting with an arranger or drill writer, or the email from a parent saying that their child will no longer be in band so they can focus on other things. (That is a completely different issue.)

So, my friends, what can you do to recharge over the summer? Maybe it is reaching out to an old friend and arranging dinner. Or, starting a blog and writing your thoughts. Perhaps you need a few days away from home with no access to social media or emails. Take yoga, or exercise. The key is to step away and recharge.

That is why teachers have summer break. It is time you took advantage of it as well.

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