Music Ed Mentor Podcast #053: Becoming a Minimalist Music Teacher

Music Ed Mentor Podcast #053: Becoming a Minimalist Music Teacher

In most areas of my life I try to practice some type of minimalism. I have a limited wardrobe. I have few possessions. Outside of instruments and books, I’ve made a conscious decision to not amass a lot of things.

I was grateful for this background when I got my K4 teaching job. My first classroom was a big, empty room. It came with a cart with a computer and an ancient sound system. I asked for a projector, and I was off and running. I did eventually add a few bits, but for the most part, I taught successfully for three years with very little stuff.

Reflecting on this got me thinking: can we practice some of the same concepts that minimalist gurus teach, in our classrooms, and in our lives? If we can, how could our practice as educators improve? What areas should look at first for minimizing? 

And what if we can’t bear to toss the thousands of cards our sweet students have given us over the years?

To help, I asked my friend Paige Bell to chat with me about becoming a minimalist music teacher, which is a passion we share. Paige teaches in Dallas, has a band called Narwhals and Waterfalls (that does great work with social-emotional learning), and runs the Simple Music Teaching blog. What’s more, she is awesome and joyful as you’ll hear in this episode. You’ll also walk away with some great ideas for simplifying your classroom, your teaching, and your life. 

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Key Takeaways

  • Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. 
  • Comparison is the thief of joy
  • Shape your program based on the passions that you have
  • Don’t people please: do what you love

Additional Resources

Elisa Janson Jones

Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, manage, and grow thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country, and serves as the conductor of her local community band. She has been teaching music for nearly 20 years and currently holds the prestigious position of elementary music teacher at a private K-8 Catholic School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Elisa is a frequent conference presenter, podcast guest, and contributor to music education magazines. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive

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