Jobs 6

Music Teacher

I became a music teacher because my headmaster was keen to ease me out as an English teacher, but also happy to retain my services in the music department, where I had a substantial extra-curricular involvement.  In private schools, your extra-curricular role could sometimes be almost as important as your classroom role. I was offered casual work and private music teaching work to enable me to put myself through law school.

The “job” had a number of components: I accompanied students for concerts and exams; I taught a number of students who were on music scholarships at the school; and I also had a number of private students.

When I finished my law degree, I relinquished the accompanying job, but I still had a few students, on scholarships, whom I taught after hours.  Even when I qualified as a solicitor, I still maintained this connexion.  The added benefit to me was that I could use the school’s facilities to practise, at a time when I didn’t even have a piano at my home.

After a few years as a solicitor, I had an early mid-life crisis and returned to music.  I increased my teaching commitments, though I couldn’t get the school-funded accompanying work back, as my successor was securely ensconced.

It may sound a bit tragic to say this, but, with only a few short-term exceptions, this was the most enjoyable “job” I have ever had.  All up, I did it for about 10 years, so it is also, on one view, my longest-lasting occupation.

Why was it so enjoyable?  First, I was lucky to have a number of gifted students.  I was teaching something I loved to students who, on the whole, were also keen on what they were doing.  The accompanying part of the “job” also allowed me to learn quite a lot of interesting repertoire, even allowing for the modest level of accomplishment at which some of it was performed (and I should include myself in this), and the generally unthankful task of playing orchestral reductions on the piano.  Secondly, because I mostly taught individuals and small groups, I was undogged by my bête noire, discipline.

It is true that, for all of the time that I was a music teacher, I was doing something else and was on the way to something else: it was neither my sole preoccupation nor my unremitting fate. It was remunerative for the hours I worked (though probably not if the practice was taken into account) at a level which enabled me to survive reasonably, though without ever accumulating any kind of surplus against my old age. I might have felt differently about this “job” if I had been doing it more or for longer.

In any event, there was a catch. I have called this a “job” precisely because it wasn’t really a job at all: I was a casual, self-employed sub-contractor. A new music director arrived who, for whatever reason (I have my own hypotheses, but I won’t go into them here) didn’t like me. I was deprived of work and new students. I suppose I could have fought against it, but by this time (in part because the process was gradual) I was earning more money as a law teacher, and it didn’t seem worth resisting. As my existing students finished school, my music teaching days came to an end.

2 Responses to “Jobs 6”

  1. Work 11 - hard work, worst jobs. « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] my time as a solicitor when I went back to university for other studies and supported myself as a music teacher and law teacher, there would always come at time over the Christmas/summer vacation when money got […]

  2. Mrs Carey’s Concert « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] deals with a world I know quite well as well as some people I either know or know of, so the film will have a particular interest for […]

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