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Thoughts for the New Year

The new year always brings about a time of reflection for me.  I find myself thinking back over the past year and looking forward to the future, wondering what the new year might bring.

This year was a time of great change for my husband and me.  In May, I graduated with my Master of Music degree.  We also moved to a new state.  It has been an adjustment to be out-of-school.  I still keep myself just as busy as I was during grad school, but it’s a different kind of busy.  Instead of having a schedule where nearly every half-hour of my day was portioned out to a class, rehearsal, or other appointment, my schedule is suddently much more flexible.  Now I have the flexibility to choose when I complete the items on my “to-do” list.  And I have to time to work on various projects that I never would have had time to do during grad school.

Do I miss being in school?  Yes and no.  I have always loved school.  And I haven’t had a break from school since Kindergarten.  That’s 19 years of formal schooling!  But, of course, education and learning does not have to end when school ends.  I am continuing to develop myself as a professional through reading books/magazines, attending conferences, attending local association meetings, staying in touch with my colleagues, and blogging/reading blogs.  I’m so thankful for all of these resources — especially for this wonderful community online!  (What would we do without the internet?!  My network would be so much smaller without it!)  Deciding to stop after my Master’s degree was a tough choice for me.  While a small part of me would love to be working on a DMA or PhD right now, I am thrilled to be finally “living the dream” and doing what has been my goal throughout those six years of college: running my own teaching studio.  I learned SO much during the coursework for my degrees, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be putting it all to good use now.  All that time, money, and effort for college was so worth it.

Most years, I don’t bother to make a New Year’s resolution, but this year I do have one.  My goal over the next year is for my husband and I to learn how to budget effectively and in general to be more aware of our finances at any given time.  When we were both full-time students, our finances were pretty straight-forward.  As things become more complex, we’d like to have a good system established for tracking our income and spending.  This, of course, includes keeping good records for my business as a piano teacher.  I asked for a budgeting software this year for Christmas that I hope will help with this goal.

Another goal, of course, is to continue growing my studio.  I am proud to be teaching 11 students, which is not bad considering we’ve moved here just six months ago.  We are still getting familiar with our new surroundings, but we consider ourselves very blessed to have found a good church home, to be living in a lovely old house that is perfect for piano teaching, and to be making new friends.  (And guess what — there’s even a group of us local teachers who are working on starting a new music teachers association affiliated with MTNA!)

Best wishes to you all as the 2011 comes to a close and the New Year approaches!  And, Merry Christmas too, of course.  I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next week or two as we spend time visiting family.  See you in January!

9 thoughts on “Thoughts for the New Year”

  1. Joy,

    I always love reading your thoughtful posts. While this has been a year of changes for you, I’ve been so excited to read along as you’ve started up your new studio and settled into life after grad school.

    A very merry Christmas to you and all your family!

    Sarah

  2. I think 11 students in 6 months is fantastic! Especially given that you’re in a brand new area. Here’s hoping for many more lesson inquiries for you this coming year!! Thanks for all that you do, Joy :) Merry Christmas!!

  3. Joy, thank you being an inspiration to us all. I love reading your posts and enjoy all of the valuable resources you have shared. Merry Christmas and wishing you a fantastic 2012 ahead!

  4. Thank you for everything that you do for us! It has been such a “joy” to have the pleasure of your blog with all its resources!
    As a very long time piano teacher with two music degrees, I would like to comment about two of your points made in your thoughtful essay: 1) Looking back on my professional career, I most regret not getting the doctorate while I was still in academic mode. My teacher, Dr. Max Camp, and my beloved father both begged me to do it, but I was tired of going to school while running a house, practicing 4 hours a day, studying, parenting a child, being a wife, etc., etc., and wanted some regular living! Before I knew it, it was time to think about retirement. If I went back to school now, I would have to RELEARN all the music information that I’ve forgotten to even take the entrance exams. Don’t wait too long! Just take off a little time, and be specific about how long before you start the degree!
    The other thing both my husband and I regret is not saving more money. We did all right with money and finances, probably better than most, but knowing what I know now, I would first of all, live my financial life according to the advice of financial guru Dave Ramsey, paid cash for everything along the way, and we would have saved more, lived way below our means, and maybe even lived off my husband’s income alone and banked mine.
    No one gets to be our age and says, “gee we saved way too much money for retirement!” I am sure that you will do what’s right for you. These are merely some thoughts from an old piano teacher!
    All best wishes as you begin your career!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Vivian! I haven’t decided whether I actually want to do another degree. It’s something I go back and forth on. Part of me knows that I would enjoy it, but the other part of me has trouble justifying the time and expense when I don’t intend to ever teach full-time at a university. And I don’t need the degree to pursue my education and interest in pedagogy!

      I love the financial advice you gave. I really like Dave Ramsey’s ideas about “living below your means.” This is definitely something my husband and I are striving to do. As soon as possible, we plan to start rebuilding our savings (which is nearly wiped out after the move, buying a piano, and living six months with low income as I worked on building my studio). Things are looking up now that I’m up to eleven students.

      It’s really encouraging to get advice from people who’ve “been there, done that.” It really helps! So thanks!

  5. You’ve made great progress! You deserve a break once in a while– enjoy life and don’t burn out. Moving is such an exciting experience– 11 students is not bad at all! Take care!

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