Saturday 5 October 2013

Saturday 5th October - Day Off

Oh my word. When was the last time that I did this?

A whole day. Just me. And the cats - but they don't want much from me.

This morning, I've had breakfast in bed, listened to Saturday Live on Radio 4 and done a load of crochet. I'm hurrying through this rather dull brown yarn in order to get on to the more exciting colours that I bought in Canada.

The cat is keeping me company (can I just point out how nicely her blue collar matches the quilt? And can I just have a little boast about the quilt which is one I made several years ago? It is rather narrow, which has proved very useful for when I want an extra layer on the bed and He doesn't. Come to think of it, it's a long time since I've made a proper quilt; I hashed something together for the Canadian baby but it wasn't what I wanted to create.)

I've a tray with biscuits, jug of water, jug of milk, jar of decent instant coffee, and some biscuits, so I can make coffee on my bedside coffee-machine whenever I want. I've my lap top, smartphone, books, magazines, Sudoku, mp3 player, radio, crochet all within reach.

My word. It is So Quiet!

There was a time when I would regularly "clock off" - mid week in a café before turning up at a school - Saturday or Sunday afternoons disappear upstairs for a little snooze or book-reading - spend a morning playing the piano.

Because of the nature of my working hours, the full-time work that I do in term-time is scattered through the day. I basically start the day at 8am, and finish around 6:30 or 7pm, but I have a morning here. and hour there, during the week when I am not teaching. I use these times to catch up on housework and gardenwork and paperwork and socialising.

Music teaching is a very intense activity; while the lesson is in progress whether you are teaching one, or five, or forty pupils. You have to be fully alert, listening intently, watching, assimilating, processing what is happening in order to say or do the right thing to ensure that the pupils have the best, most useful experience. If you get it wrong, a lesson with fort children can become chaos, (dangerously so, if you are not careful). A badly-chosen phrase can destroy a pupil's confidence. The right word can galvanise them and motivate them to renewed effort. So, come 7 pm on a Friday night, I am listened and talked out. I don't want to see or hear or say anything much; and it takes a half-day of "down-time" to get me back to a state when I am ready to rejoin the human race.    

I don't think those times have happened for over a year. The gaps in my schedule have been jammed packed, squeezing in just the basic, imperative tasks; weekends fully scheduled - even enjoyable "family days out" have been at the expense of the restorative recharging times.

The obvious response from people is "oh, you do too much. You should give up your work". The next person who says this to me will incur my wrath, even if I do not actually express it in verbal or visible form. I LIKE my work. Why should I give it up? My work will give me up soon enough, and probably sooner that I would like. Isn't it better that I take steps to ensure that I can continue to work for as long as I can, for as long as I want to? 

Day off. Lovely.

And I can't wait for Monday and the challenges that the day will bring - djembe with 40 lovely, sparky young children. Then an evening of piano teaching; pinning down a lively 6-year-old at the piano for long enough to catch her attention to learn the next notes. Persuading a talented lad to concentrate his mind effectively on learning rather than letting his mind run in neutral. Slowing down a young-man-in-a-hurry so that he gets to grips with the tricky bits rather than glossing over them. Showing a high-flying sixth-former with not enough time for lots of practise, and showing her how to make the most effective use of her time, so that she can enjoy the piece she is learning. And hardest of all, unpicking a young man's technical bad habits in such a way that he is able to fulfil his potential, without discouraging him or denigrating what he has achieved so far.

Day off. Recharge. Restore.

Guess what? I'm going to do this again tomorrow!

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