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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making Your At-Home Music Studio “Student Proof” by Danielle Gomez

Today we have a guest piece from my ex-roommate and close friend, Danielle. She purchased her first solo apartment almost a year ago and has been happily nesting ever since. Complicating matters is the fact she runs a successful business from her home. I asked her to talk a little about the way working from home affects her nesting habits and how she balances her private and public spaces:

I am a self-employed private violin instructor that teaches from home.  I love my job and adore every single one of my students.  Plus, I must admit, the short commute to work is quite nice.

But teaching from home is definitely not for the faint of heart.  The strict lines between “personal” and “work” space have a tendency to become grey as your students become more comfortable with you (their teacher) and environment.  This requires a bit of creativity in order to make a space that is both attractive and practical. Defining your space becomes essential.  

One major war zone that I had to “student proof” was the bathroom.  Accepting the fact that I would have thirty families using my bathroom every week, everything I put in there is sturdy.  In an effort to add color to an otherwise stark environment, I have embraced the concept of candles.  Candles are fun no matter where you put them and it’s not a major tragedy if one of them “accidentally” ends up on the floor. Personally, I like splurging on wax candles; they smell wonderful when burning.  But this is a personal preference and you can certainly find cute candles out there that are very reasonably priced.

Spending a few dollars on some cheap, plastic glasses is also a really good idea.  Inevitably, you’re going to have someone who’s thirsty or coughing up a lung.  As a music teacher, you don’t have to feel obligated toward providing refreshments.  But you do have to be ready for when the situation calls for it.  How comfortable are you with a young student handling one of your glass cups?

Finally, we get to the actual teaching studio.  When looking for apartments, one of my major requirements was being able to have a separate room to teach in.  While this seems like a superfluous expenditure at first glance, I think that most seasoned teachers will agree that this is critical.  Students, especially young ones, need to know where their space is.  

Having a room or set area completely devoted to music makes your job as a teacher that much easier.  As soon as the student walks into that room, they know that you mean business.  This means that there must be an open space to teach and all of your teaching supplies should be at-hand in this space.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a musical atmosphere by hanging instruments you already own on the wall or investing in a tasteful picture or two.

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