Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Day in the Life of Susan

Susan with short hair at the moment!
One of my favorite blogs is Rachel Rambach's Listen & Learn Blog.  She is a music therapist and full of positive energy and a ton of talent.

Today she wrote a post titled "A Day in the Life of a Music Therapist" and asked her readers to share what their days look like.

A typical day for a private studio owner/music and movement professional/private teacher like me looks a little like this...

4:30 or so
I don't use an alarm clock.  I wake up in the morning when I wake up.  I am naturally an early riser, so today it was 4:20 am.  There are days I wake at 6:30 am and there are days I'm up at 3 am.
I hydrate in the morning!  Lots of water for me.

Today I worked at my computer, playing with my bamboo tablet and experimenting with how to create a signature for my blog using a site called My Live Signature.

When my husband wakes up, he makes me a homemade ginger tea, with grated ginger and honey...mmmmm good!  We usually spend time talking in the mornings and taking care of all our living beings.
We have 2 parrots and a little black dog.  We also have a 17-year old young man.  (Nigel's son lives part-time with us and part-time with his mom.)  All these beings need feeding, watering and love.
I eat a big breakfast with protein, usually eggs, sometimes toast and meat as well.  I have a bath and dress and then I'm out the door with Moka to my studio.
8:30 am
We live within walking distance to the studio so I always walk with Moka.  There are routine things that happen when I arrive, turning off the alarm, turning on the lights, heat and digital picture frame in the waiting room.  Sweep the street outside the studio.  Water the planters.  Check the bathroom to make sure everything is great in there...is there a fresh roll of toilet paper there, etc...
 Musicalia entrance and waiting area! I love this green.
I check my phone messages and emails.  I focus on my lesson plans and the classes, reading over the lists of names of the children and parents.  

I make sure the music room is set up for the morning's activities.
  • Is the net up?  (To keep the babies out of the piano and special instrument area)
  • Is the net down? (So the older children can have access to the piano and special instrument area)
  • Are the balls blown up?  
  • Is the Orff orchestra set up for today's tunes?
  • Is the guitar tuned?
  • Are the graphic notation charts up?
  • Are the ipods working? the stereo?
  • I spend time sterilizing the baby instruments.  Some can be washed and dried.  For others I use my Verilux UV-C lightwand to sterilize them.  The UV-C wand kills germs, viruses and bacteria on things that can not be washed...like the jingle bells, cloth mallets, my piano keyboard and my computer keyboard.
Moka sets up for the morning too...

Around noon I head home with Moka to eat lunch and then I usually lie on my bed for 15 minutes to rest my body.  With my early rising time and leading such active classes, I am finding as I get older, I need to take a few minutes downtime during the day to re-charge.

1-3 pm
Somedays I am back at the studio by 1 pm.  Others start closer to 3 pm.
The early afternoons are planning and prep times for me.
Sometimes Moka and I walk the neighbourhood.

3-5:30 pm
I usually teach private lessons before and after my classes.
Afterschool classes are 90 minutes long.   We sing, dance, play guitar, violin, ukulele, recorder, harmonica and do puppets plays, drama games, music theory games and story-telling.
My husband, Nigel, usually picks Moka up around 4 pm for his afternoon walk and dinner.

Private teaching.  I no longer do special needs or therapeutic work now.  I made that decision last year.  Now, my private sessions are piano, guitar, violin or composition for children.  I am learning to use garage band and have a digital microphone to record the groups and individual music-making sessions.  This is new for me and I face a learning curve everytime I do anything with garage band!

7:30 pm
I tidy up and head for home around 7:30 pm most nights.
This year I have hired a janitorial company to clean the studio and take out garbage, etc..  This has completely changed my life for the better.   It's a big expense and I'm so happy I've found reliable assistance with cleaning!
I have dinner when I get home.  Nigel is the cook at our house!  It's a pretty delicious scene for me.

If I don't have choir practise or Folkestra practise in the evening, then I'm at home with my hubby and happy to be there.  Sometimes we hang out with Moka watching a little TV or listening to music.  Sometimes I work away at my computer, learning new skills and reading blogs.

8:30-10 pm
Somewhere in there we head to bed.

Other days
My days are not all the same.  Some days I teach morning, noon and night.  Some days just mornings.    Because I don't use franchised programs, and instead create all my own materials now,  I have a enormous prep load in order to fulfill my teaching commitments.  The days I work only mornings or only afternoons/evenings, I usually spend the other half planning.

My biggest prep day is Sunday.  I spend long hours at the studio on Sundays to get most things ready for the week.   It's the only uninterrupted day I have because I carry such a full schedule of teaching commitments.  I have learned to do this over the years.  It takes the pressure off my daily teaching life.  It does mean a 7-day work week though.   I regard my holiday time as precious and earned...so I really relax during the summers and school break times now.


  1. Hi Susan! Rachel from L&L here. I am SO happy you left a link to your site, because I found this post to be fascinating! Your studio is absolutely gorgeous (I love the green too...my living room is another shade although still quite bright) and your life sounds so charming and fulfilling.

    Oh, and on the topic of Garageband...I just posted a video tutorial of it on my members blog, and plan on sharing many more in the near future (in case you're interested - http://listenlearnplus.com). I'd love to keep in touch...it sounds like I could learn a lot from you :)

    Thanks for sharing your "day in the life" post!

  2. Hi Rachel, Thanks for visiting! Every visit to your blog sees me leaving with a smile on my face and an idea brewing. I have plans to sign up for your Listen and Learn premium members site soon. I'll be hooked on your garageband tutorials for sure! Thanks again, Rachel.

  3. What a fab photo of you and your husband! xo Maria

  4. Thanks, Maria! I'd love for you to meet him some day:) xo


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