You deserve a break today ….if….

Do You Deserve a Break Today?

Total Teacher #1

Over the next few months we will be looking at the ‘Whole Picture’ of who we are. How do we see things, hear things, communicate things. Piece by piece you will begin to discover the ‘Total You’ so that you can relate to your ‘Total Student’.

Let’s start with this piece of insight.

Did you know that you go through zig zag stages in your development no matter how old you are?

Self – defeating, troubled
comfortable, organized
behavioral interruption, distraction
rounded, well-balanced
internalizing introvertish behavior
Vigorous, expansive growth,

When you arrived here on earth you were in a “troubled stage”

That lead to a comfortable and organized time of life

Which then lead to a time of interruption, or distraction.

Next, you again became well-rounded, but only for a short time.

Soon to be introverted, with an internalizing tendency.

And finally, you began a period of vigorous and expansive growth.

Only to start all over again by becoming self-defeating, with a troubled spirit.

Sound Familiar? So how does this help you as a teacher? First, look at yourself. Slow down and think about your life. Where do you fit in at this point? Track yourself. Don’t just think, write it down. By establishing your present point, you have direction as to where you are headed?

Each of these stages are simply guidelines. The stages change quickly in youth and gradually slow down to a period of years as an adult. They don’t have to devastate us. A troubled time can also be a time of gathering information due to an unsettled mind. When we add this nugget of insight to the way we learn, and layer it, you will be amazed how it all works together to create an amazingly complex experience, like a tapestry of color. Without the troubled years, the dark times, our
tapestry would be quite shallow.

Your students are traveling this zig zag path as well. Those students whom you enjoyed so much last year will shortly change, possible internalizing their thoughts and appearing to be ‘teenagers’. Accept them and help them through the maze.

A test for teachers: My Life as of today

These are rhetorical questions. I don’t need an answer, but you do.

Do I cut my legs off at the knees to prove some illusive ‘truth’ that I haven’t really defined? Y___ N___

Even though life is racing past, do I feel a sense of contentment when I look around? Y__N__

Do I feel I’m running in circles much of the time; having a full plate but never clearing anything off? Y___ N___

Is life flowing fairly smoothly? Do you feel that the puzzle is basically together and you aren’t having trouble fitting in the pieces that are left? Y__ N__

Do you think too much? Are you refusing fun times because they take too much energy, and after you have gone to some ‘get-together’ do you kick yourself when you review your comments or ‘hate’ the way you carelessly did something? Y__N__

Are you finding it hard to keep up with yourself? You don’t mind staying up late or getting up early to complete a task.   You  almost fear you are  going through a ‘manic’ experience. Y__N__

Answers: The questions follow the zig zag path. As we age we can see carry-over from one stage to the next. This is something that is often seasonal, or on a lesser degree even daily. We can discuss this further later, but generally, if it depended on you and not external pressures, where would you find yourself? Knowledge is powerful. If you can prepare for the zag after the zig you are in, it might, first of all make sense and not be totally blamed on hormones, and secondly,
help you get through the next stage as yourself and not as a ‘blob being tossed around by the waves of life’.

It is important to receive proper counseling from a qualified counselor, if the stage is too overwhelming. There is no shame in seeking help. We all need a listening ear from someone who will listen unconditionally. Even a friend, over coffee, might just be the thing. Your students are not on this level. They are separate. You are the listening ear for them. It doesn’t go both ways. Let’s talk soon, in Unit 2.

How can this apply to the teaching studio or classroom?

Even though, looking at the Big Picture, we see yearly changes, we can also see these changes on a much smaller scale. We can easily fly into one of these conditions if the studio is a mess or your family is putting too much pressure on family time over organizational time. Think through what moves you toward a well-balanced feeling of being prepared and enjoying your teaching, Try to establish that in your studio or classroom.

Streamline the extras so they don’t cause extra stress by creating clutter.

For example: file your music so you can find it when your student is ready for it, not the following week. Keep your teaching items separate, your developmental time at times when the family isn’t available. Plan for it. Have a brief case ready to take to the doctors office to work on while you wait. Have times set aside when you talk to new students and return calls. This could be after the kids are in bed or when your family is busy watching a movie. Decide if you have time for what
is being asked of you and stick to your decision.

You Deserve A Break Today

(if you answer yes to any one of these questions consider why you first chose to teach, home school etc. and try to recapture that spirit. If you can’t, find a group of supportive friends to help rejuvenate your motives and rekindle the joy.)

  1. Has anyone commented that you seem a little unenthusiastic lately?
  2. Is your family putting stress on your teaching time by wanting your presence with them more than usual?
  3. Do you find you dread the approach of ‘teaching day’?
  4. Do you feel used and irritated if your students come unprepared for their lessons?
  5. Are your students, on a whole, looking forward to a break from classes. You can tell this if they say, “Are you going away anytime soon?”
  6. Is it difficult for you to prepare for your lessons? Do you simply do it the same way you have for the last twenty years, digging up old crumpled copies of music?
  7. Are you relating to the mind of a child when teaching children, and the mind of an adult when teaching adults?
  8. Is your passion shifting to another area of interest?
  9. Have you stopped doing ‘extra’ things for your students, concerts, play in’s, nursing homes, caroling group lessons, an occasional cookie after class, etc?
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The ‘Flow’ – Surrender to the Moment

The ‘Flow’ – Surrender to the Moment

Igniting our Sleeping Brains   by Carol AndersonScales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing.
A concept developed for over thirty years

to introduce the world of music,

its Architecture, its Art, its Appreciation

touching lives, one precious individual at a time,

with a calm and gentle spirit…

working seamlessly – embellishing Traditional and Suzuki Music Lessons

Igniting Sleeping Brains!

Going in the backdoor of learning – creating fluid thinking



I was playing with one of the little ‘icing on my life’s cake’ and asking her what she wanted for Christmas.

Her itty bitty body was walking along, swinging her arms, brushing the ground with each foot as she walked, head lowered, appearing to be absorbed in the moment when in an instant, I mean, not a second elapsed from my question, a reply came back….”Shoes”.

What three year old wants shoes? I mean, she doesn’t have it modeled by the rest of us…….. Ok we like shoes but we don’t talk about it. We just have the normal variety to go with the different outfits. ….and really, I’m not a shoe person.

I’m always in socks.

I remember sitting around with everyone, lots of people, and having her suddenly say to me,
“I like your socks”.
How does such a little person even notice socks? I think she was two at the time.
But from that, we started wearing exciting fun socks, striped, red with snowflakes…just fun..
It is our thing and my way to connect with who she is.
I still have to run five times as fast to stay up with who she is becoming but, I’m willing.

Now, how can I use this? I’m the adult.

I can twist and turn the path to take her where I want her to go.
How many of us haven’t told a little person under our care how wonderful they are.

You tell them….

– the big picture – “Some day, you are going to be jumping that horse in the Olympics”,

– more specific – “That piece was played so beautifully, you could mesmerize me for the whole lesson by simply playing for me..thankyou”

I told my brother-in-law, from the time he was five, that he was going to be a doctor.

I saw his strengths even as a tiny person, and brought them to his attention.

Today, lives, literally all over the world, are being touched by my subtle suggestions, his God-given gifts

and he would add, years of hard work. Here’s a sample of how easily our minds can be walked right into where the speaker wants our thinking to be.

Try this:

I did this with my husband and so wish I had a camera to have captured his face. I still chuckle when I think of it.

Pick a number from 1 to 10.
Multiply it by 9
Got it?
If the result is a two digit number …add the two digits together.
Now subtract five
With the resulting number, connect it with a letter.
Like 1 would be A, 2=B and so on.
Ok, at this point, think of a country that begins with that letter.
-not some obscure country…
just the first one that comes to mind-
Now take the second letter of that country and think of an animal that starts with that letter.
Don’t get fancy.
Just a normal animal that most people would think of that starts with that letter.

Got it?
Now think of the usual color of that animal.

Be sure to have the country, animal and color in your mind and then scroll down.


Ok…. Are you thinking of a gray elephant in Denmark?


How did I do that? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can, and so can you.

You can create the kind of thinking within yourself that leads to greater fulfillment in the task.

You can learn to change the lives of your students and children,

by knowing the ‘backdoor’ to their learning and the reasons why we do what we do.

Plan to take them on a journey.

Doing this requires you to do your homework.

When I am in a position to influence someone,

at the top of the priorities is to influence them with great prudence, honesty, and integrity –

no self gratification… self-interest!

When the door is opened for you to influence another whether by relationship or teaching,

keep in mind:  “What’s in this for THEM”….and then the end of the path might surprise you.

In ‘Avoiding Practice Depleters’ we talked about a new definition for ‘will-power’ and the ‘power’ will-power has over our actions.

Here is another piece to the puzzle.

I was standing at the kitchen sink with my little 11 month old grandson swinging in the swing and ‘Fur Elise’ was looping in his music. He started to sing it…..the difficult moving part. He’d heard it so much that he was able to control his voice to sing (hmmm) along. Learning the tune for him was a pleasure…it wasn’t painful. He didn’t resist it and it was absorbed into his thinking while he did other things. But it was learned, no sacrifice, no hard work, no commitment.

We’ve been programmed to think that, to accomplish anything, we need to endure, pour in hours of hard work, and commit to huge sacrifices or we need to be praised, promoted or given presents.

That, in itself, is a ‘will-power’ gas guzzler. And without will-power we don’t ….can’t…move forward.

(Be sure to read the post ‘Avoiding Practice Depleters’ that explains the power of will-power,…and its weaknesses)

I’m a firm believer that we have to be moving forward in every aspect of our lives if we are to completely move into the ‘flow’ of what we put our minds to.

We need paradigm shifts and a way to relearn our ‘limiting beliefs’.

My door is always open to women who have situations in their lives that could be helped by a ‘listening ear’.

More often than not, I can see the detours they’ve taken to overt hitting a challenging wall and moving it out of their way. It simply throws them into an ocean of  ‘no way out’ thinking. If someone finds themselves in deep water, you can’t just jump in alongside them and hand them a stick and say, “stay afloat, things will improve”. Nor can you say, “Here’s your problem, and here’s how to fix it’. Just do it.”

It’s hard to put one foot in front of the other without an outstretched hand or ‘safety net’ or even the ‘promise that change is possible’.   So I look for something in their lives that can be changed, baby steps of moving away and moving toward…and teach them to make changes.  Once how to make changes is learned, it seeps into other areas of life.

You can never unlearn what you learn. 

It becomes a part of you.

It is not only difficult to remember what wasn’t there just days before,

it is impossible.

It has become a structural part of  your thinking.

That’s called ‘assimilation’ .

Before really learning something, you’ve simply ‘accommodated’ the information.

How can we create true ‘flow’ with our musical goals…or regain it if ‘life’ has gotten into the way?

One suggestion is to take your finger out of the emotional dyke holding back

unresolved issues

that continually validate

‘limiting beliefs’ . (chew on that for a while..its powerful)

Denial that there is even something holding us back is, in itself,  guzzling your will-power gas.

  1. Make a plan. (no one wants to do this simple thing)

They always say:  ‘its up here’.  That’s not good enough.
Put it down there! on the paper.

2. Chip away with one positive action at a time.

3. Set a goal.

I have to say that if someone wants to start violin lessons with me, they are usually down the path toward the goal already. It’s when the reality of what it takes to reach the goal meshes with the goals or ‘fires of life’ already in place…..the task seems insurmountable.  So we have to clear a path to achieve the goal.

Having a clear path…uncluttered…is essential for ‘flow’.

I had a little guy who was learning “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” stand around practicing the tune long after I had the endurance or desire to keep going. He was saying, “I could do this all night!”as he moved from room to room. That was a ‘kid rendition’ of  ‘flow’.

To establish ‘flow’ you don’t have to have ‘arrived’ already.

You simply need to surrender to the moment.


What is flow?

-sustained concentration on the task at hand.
(oh you mean no multitasking?….)

-accepting the results and working with them…

-simply enjoying the process of improvement.

-forgetting about your needs or even time,  and focusing on the activity

-clarity of almost being one with the moment without extra clutter in our thinking.


Make the most of your moments.

Our lives are made up of moments linked together.

They are the ‘bytes’ of our entire lives and when we pull back from them,

we can see the picture of whom we have become.

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