Before I get started, I’d like to say that I’m not complaining here. It might, however, sound like whining. And maybe I am. But a year or two from now when I go back and read this post, it will give me a lot of encouragement and hope, because I will be able to see that things got better and I became a better person because of it. The facts, however, speak for themselves.
2009 was a strange year. It started off very promising and quickly headed in a southerly direction. My husband lost his job two weeks into the year, which I discussed at length in the last post. This set off yet another major shift in my rather careful and conservative business plan.
At the start of the year, I had five local students and several webcammers. I was happily playing in a professional orchestra, picking up smaller gigs and thinking about the next school year. At the end of May, I sadly and resignedly turned my incredible locals over to another teacher and moved back to Iowa. I miss Kansas a lot — it felt like I was starting to make some musical and personal progress and the studio was growing. Since then, I have played one gig — a wedding — and I did that as a gift. Other than that, there has been nothing.
In 2008 I moved my website to a new host. In 2009 the traffic picked up considerably, but so did the number of spammers. Other than that, it has been pretty dead online as well.
So, as I think about 2010 — what I want, what I need, how I envision the future of my studio — I know that a) the economy will eventually improve; b) the economy will eventually improve; and c) the economy will eventually improve. That is perhaps the one thing that keeps my discouragement in check. Yes, I’m discouraged. I said it, in black and white. I’ve never heard a teacher admit discouragement (gasp! in public!) before. But let me ask you: wouldn’t you be if you worked, networked and hatched various plots of musical domination and nothing you did produced results?
I’m very tempted, more often than I’d like to admit, to throw in the towel and get a real job. I sit here and look at the library I’ve collected over the years, at my carefully organized mess of an office space, the money I’ve spent upgrading my technology so that I could offer my love of violin and what knowlege I’ve acquired to people who couldn’t learn about it except for the wonderful world wide web. I think about the progress I’ve made, which is, by my standards, very small. After 3-1/2 years doing webcam lessons, I have eight regular students, all of whom started as beginners. One is an adult. The others are children. My studio got mentioned in a recently published book, but it wasn’t because I’m a fabulous, sought-after teacher. I was mentioned because my website has a catchy tag line. Some days, I just want to give up. It’s not worth it. I’m not doing what I love to do, which is teach. I’m sitting here, writing, thinking, pining. Not teaching.
Luckily, my husband is an optimist. We complement each other that way. He is the one who says, “Give it some more time” every time I talk about reassessing and setting a time limit to stop the madness. He is the one talking about buying a piano. He’s the one who buys me sheet music so I can learn new things, branch out into other areas of music. He’s the one who talks about being my manager and booking my gigs as a rock/blues violinist. He’s my most passionate promoter. I am my most passionate critic.
So, I have a feeling that this year will once again be devoted to reestablishing myself, reintroducing myself, reinventing myself. My immediate plans include making several series of videos on general violin topics, being a little more aggressive and targeted about my advertising, and putting out more business cards, with the hope and intention that 2010 will be a better, more stable, more fulfilling year. A year with lots of music! Which I promise to talk about from here forward.