Time off

Today, one of my piano parents made an interesting comment. When I reminded her that she didn’t have to wait until the next lesson to find out whether her daughter had practiced something correctly but that she could take a video of her daughter’s playing at home and email it to me for review / feedback whenever she needed, she said, “I don’t want to bother you in your spare time, during your time off.”

With very few exceptions – like the parent who texts at 10:30 p.m. – my piano parents are very respectful of the fact that I have a family, and I appreciate that they don’t take for granted that I am available outside of the actual lesson time.

This parent’s consideration and respect for the fact that I have a life outside of the piano studio felt very good but it reminded me that I need to educate my piano parents better:

I don’t work on things related to piano studio in my spare time. A university professor does not spend all of his/her weekly 40 hours teaching – a full-time position assumes 18 contact hours, the rest goes toward preparation, evaluation, research, etc., but you wouldn’t call the 22 non-contact hours “spare time” just because the professor is not with a student.

Likewise, I spend some of my business hours teaching, and some hours researching, preparing, evaluating, viewing and uploading lesson and performance videos to YouTube, communicating with parents and students via text or email, practicing, etc.  Every so often I go to the piano store to check out a piano for a student, texting and emailing back and forth with the parent, sharing my thoughts on the piano, answering questions. This is not done in my spare time, it is part of my job.

The difference to a 9 to 5, true 40-hour week is that my hours are very flexible. Most days I spend several hours on studio related stuff (in addition to teaching lessons), occasionally perhaps just 30 minutes, catching up on email and uploading a video. I work a lot in the evening after dinner, and most weekends, but I don’t consider those hours my spare time – I just happen to work well in the evening and on weekends.