Five Lessons I’ve Learned: #1: Demonstrate Organization

This is part 1 in a series of posts sharing and preventing some of the mistakes I’ve made or seen among younger teachers.

I’ll never forget a job interview I once had for a high school music position. One of the recurring questions from the panel was “Are you organized?” It seemed each panelist asked that same question a different way. I felt confident in my positive response, and I believe I was successful in showing the panel that I was (and am now even more) a person who takes pride in being organized (despite the occassional minor mishap).

The panel’s question, however, really made me curious about the previous music teacher. What organizational blunders must he or she have made to make these people so desperately concerned that I too would make them?

In my current job, I have the good fortune to work with well organized music teachers and exceptionally well organized leadership. But I have been around enough to know that others in the music profession aren’t as well equipped, shall we say, in the organizational arts.

I bring up this story for the benefit of readers who may not have a knack for organization. Many parents, fellow school teachers, and administrators won’t give a rip whether or not your students can play their super locrian scales or improvise a solo on Giant Steps, but they will care about being informed of events and important dates. They will care about you turning P.O.’s in on time. They will care when your application to the big parade was rejected because it was two weeks late, or that your hotel reservations were cancelled because you failed to send a deposit check. Your private students will care about your not showing up for lessons because you forgot to cancel because you got a better paying gig that night.

So here’s some encouragement for all of us to break the reputation of the disorganized musician and show the world that, often by necessity, we just might be the most organized people on campus.

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