Whenever I see a list of “life hacks” floating around facebook, I almost can’t help but open it up and check it out. I love clever little tricks that make life easier! Why didn’t I think to store my bagel in a CD spindle?!
Lately, I’ve been all about efficiency and simplicity in both my piano studio as well as my home. I’ve noticed tons of great ideas pop up from other piano teachers, so I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of piano teacher life hacks: little things we can worry less about so we can spend more time being an awesome teacher! 🙂
My printer bit the dust about a year and a half ago. When I was shopping for a new one, I ended up getting this HP 6830. I saw some advertisements for the HP Instant Ink program but didn’t give it much thought until I read Sara’s review of it. Then I was sold on it.
Once you enroll in the program, you no longer purchase ink cartridges for your printer. Instead, you sign up for a plan based on the number of pages you anticipate printer each month. It ranges from $3-$10/month.
You are automatically billed the same price each month. Instant Ink sends you new cartridges as soon as your current set starts running low (so not necessarily corresponding with your monthly payment.)
Unprinted pages can carryover to the next month, or you will be charged a small fee for every 15-25 pages you go over. For my plan, it’s $1 per 20 pages.
Unlike Sara, I don’t do tons of printing in my studio, so I opted for the middle package, which is $5 a month. At $60 a year, that’s less than I would normally spend to replace the cartridges 1 time. I normally replace them several times a year, so I can already tell it’s going to be a huge savings.
Not to mention, it’s a dream to have cartridges automatically shipped when they run out. I am terrible about ignoring the warnings from my printer that it’s low on ink. I often end up scrambling to run to the store just for ink when my printer suddenly won’t print.
If you’d like to try it out, use my referral link and we’ll both get a month for free!
You may have seen this tip in Sara’s link above, but it’s a good one! I get really overwhelmed with paper clutter, so I’m always looking for ways to streamline the paper that I have to deal with.
Having students complete worksheets on an iPad is perfect! Since it’s all about the work, and not the sheet, it’s no big deal that it gets erased – and they could do it again if they need extra practice with a concept! Plus, students are always looking for excuses to hold an iPad!
Bridey from Pianosaurus Rex explains all about how to do it in this post.
I haven’t actually tried this one yet. We do most of our theory using online programs like Tonic Tutor, but I’m definitely going to scan our music theory practice tests that we use for our annual theory test so that we can do them on the ipad.
3. Reducing Clutter
On a similar note, I was really inspired when I read Bandy’s post on The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up and how she applied it to her studio. I love the simplicity and functionality of her space. I read the book a couple of years ago, but I haven’t fully adopted all of the principles into my life. There are a few good nuggets that I’ve held on to, though.
With little kids around, it’s amazing how quickly a space can transform from neat and tidy to a disaster. I could spend every waking moment returning things to their proper place in my home and studio, but that’s just not realistic.
For example, I’m currently writing this in my living room, with a bunch of ripe bananas sitting nearby on the coffee table. It’s not my choice to include bananas in the space, but I’ll go with it.
I’ve made a big point to reduce clutter in my studio this year. I completely rearranged it for the first time in 5 years. The change in space meant that there wasn’t enough room for the desk that my students’ laptop was on. I got rid of that desk and I let them work at my desk. I’m not really one to do much desk work, so my desk was mostly a place to stack books. Any musician can attest to how quickly music stacks up! It was crazy how tall the piles of music would get. I would make a big effort to file it away each week, but it always came back.
Currently, I use 1 shelf from my bookcase to hold my desk items like pencil jar and small office supplies. Since there is no where for the music to pile up, it doesn’t! It just lands back in it’s place on the shelf. This has tremendously helped my productivity and focus while teaching.
4. Buy Nothing
I recently wrote about how joining my local Buy Nothing group has been really beneficial to my studio.
The long story short is that it’s a hyperlocal gift giving community where you can give and ask for gifts. There is never a price attached and things and services are always given freely. It’s are a really neat group to be participate in and a great way to save money!
5. Freezer Meals and Convenient But Healthy Foods
In this post, I shared how my family was saved from a huge food rut by Wildtree Freezer Meals! This is still my number 1 food tip for piano teachers and other busy people. Nothing beats prepping once and eating 10 or more times!
In addition to freezer meals, I’m also always on the hunt for fairly healthy convenience foods. These 4 things are doing the trick for us right now:
Vega Protein and Greens – This is my current favorite breakfast. I blend it with almond milk and peanut butter. The flavor and texture are both great compared to other protein powder’s I’ve tried.
Tasty Bit Madras Lentils – This is a super quick and easy lunch or dinner. They heat for 1 minute in the microwave.
Pure Bars – These are tasty and filling and a good snack right before a long stretch of teaching.
Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels – Another easy mid-day snack.
6. Mobile Banking
When I got a smart phone a few years ago, my bank’s app was one of the first apps I downloaded. Piano teachers deal with a lot of checks, which means a lot of trips to the bank. I love being able to take care of deposits in between lessons or late at night.
It’s super quick and easy: You just snap a picture of each side of the check using the app and it usually goes through within seconds.
7. Facebook Custom List
When I saw Tracy’s post on FB custom lists, I was all over the idea! I was feeling really bogged down by FB, so the idea of having more control over what I was seeing was really appealing to me. I created a custom list, that includes exactly what I want to see.
Naturally, even my custom list friends might share things that aren’t of interest to me, but it is far less than my huge, normal feed. Since my custom list is a fraction of the size of my normal page, there isn’t nearly as much to see, which means I don’t look at as much, which is a good thing! 🙂
You can see Tracy’s description of how to create a custom page here.
8. Student Notes and Organization
Nicola of Colourful Keys has excellent suggestions for how to implement a note system for keeping track of students. She explains exactly what she tracks and how she documents. I want to be like Nicola!
Do you have any tips to share that make your life easier? Leave a comment below!