A budding business
My first year of teaching private piano lessons ended with almost a 100% growth rate in new students. I started with 8 budding pianists and finished with 15. I was thrilled! Word of mouth by parents was my only marketing tool. I was grateful to add on students to my schedule during the year, though I certainly didn't anticipate so much growth!
I loved creating my own schedule and being my own boss.
The following summer in 1997, I received an unexpected phone call one afternoon that brought about big changes in my life. I was offered a job teaching at the "Old Towne Academy" in Orange, CA, pending a positive interview with the Board. They had lost their piano teacher and had been given my name by someone, somewhere (the details sure do get fuzzy after 20 years!). At that point, the academy consisted of only two other teachers — voice and dance — that taught in classrooms at the First United Methodist Church.
A few weeks later, I was hired.
I was given the names of potential students. Several phone calls later, I was scheduling students to start lessons with me in the Fellowship Room across from the church office where there was an old baby grand.
So now I was teaching a couple afternoons a week at OTA and spending a couple afternoons a week driving to students' homes. I think I started with around 22 students and by the end of the year had just over 30.
I continued on for another five years with my student numbers growing. I was allowed to have my private students participate in the biannual recitals I coordinated at the church. I was building solid relationships with parents and loving my students. I loved creating my own schedule and being my own boss. I had the support of the OTA board but no one was telling me exactly what to do. They encouraged me, gave me accolades, and gave me practical help at every recital.
My business was growing and I was making decent money, but I still had another dream for my life. I had always wanted to be a secondary classroom music teacher. I just couldn't figure out how to pay for a credential program and attend classes while cutting my work load at least in half. Then, to top it off, I knew I wouldn't be able to teach at all during the student teaching semester.
In 2000, I was invited by a friend to go roller skating. It was really a set-up but she wanted to go as a group in case things didn't work out. Well, ten months later I married the guy she introduced me to. And in 2001, with my husband's blessing, I took advantage of the opportunity and dove into the credential program at Vanguard University.
When second semester rolled around, I officially said goodbye to all of my students in Orange and embraced my new students in the choir classroom of San Clemente High School. My master teacher was very generous and gave me a beginning choir class and an AP Music Theory class to teach. He conducted the other two choirs and also taught an Intro to Music class.
By the end of the year I was confident that I could teach classroom music — as long as I started at the middle school level! I mean, really, I was a pianist, not a singer. Yes, I had been singing in choirs since I was in middle school. But I ranked my instrument prowess in this order:
So, again, I had to ask a lot of questions and have the confidence in myself that I would learn what I needed to know along the way. And I always reminded myself that I knew more than my students did!
Piano Teacher to Classroom Teacher
I completed the credential program and put together a stunning portfolio and resume. I researched job openings and set up interviews with several principals. After weeks of driving all over Orange County, I was offered a position at an Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA.
I would finally fulfill my dream!
(Uh-hmm. Boy, was I in for a BIG surprise ...)