I know I’m not alone when I say that there are a lot of things in business and life that I have zero affinity for. I’m not a tech person, my administrative skills are so-so at best and I am not a naturally organized person. At the start of last year, I made a big list of a bunch of dream projects that I have been wanting to tackle for a long time and I realized that there was one thing separating me from achieving them: they would all require skills I don’t have.
I considered my options. I could either:
1. hire someone to do them or 2. Figure it out on my own.
Not having thousands of dollars at my disposal, I had no choice but to take the “figure it out” route.
Somehow in the last 18 months, I have managed to tackle several impossible-it-will-never-ever-happen tasks in a pretty successful way. I learned how to record video and audio, how to edit multicamera videos, resulting in a successful online course and dozens of videos posted on my YouTube channel. I also managed to do all of my own publicity and radio distribution for a new album, which got 10x more press and radio interest then my last album, which I paid a professional publicist thousands of dollars to promote.
Now I’m not bragging (well, maybe just a little…), I’m just trying to promote the idea that if I can do it, literally anyone else on Earth can. It took some serious elbow grease, and some swearing at the computer and vowing never to take on a project like this again, but even though they felt totally undoable, these projects actually got done. I’m going to share a few tips on how you too can tackle some of your dream projects in a DIY fashion.
- Figure out what skills and equipment you need.
In order to tackle promoting my new album, I needed to gain some administrative skills that I didn’t have. I learned that in order to send mass emails, you needed something called a “mail merge”. For my video work, I researched which cameras and software would be effective and easy to use for my purposes.
- Ask for help.
Do you have a friend who is an expert at a skill you lack? Ask them for tips on how to get started. My friend Jan is an admin wiz and she was super helpful in answering a few questions about how to get started creating and Excel spreadsheet.
- Give yourself lots of time.
You’ll need time to get comfortable as you work through these new skills and you will make a lot of mistakes along the way. Don’t give yourself a too-tight deadline, as it will take some time to use these new skills.
- Take an online course.
As I was getting my mind around learning how to do my own publicity, I heard of a fantastic online course called JazzFuel. Taught by one of the top jazz managers in Europe, I learned step-by-step to prepare and execute this huge project. It was time and money well spent!
- Don’t forget YouTube.
You can pretty much learn anything on YouTube as there are video tutorials for pretty much any topic under the sun. I taught myself the video editing software Final Cut Pro using a variety of YouTube videos.
- Take notes as you go.
I have kept elaborate records of each step of my DIY learning, from which YouTube links I used, to step-by-step directions on how to do everything from setting up the audio on a video shoot to how to print mailing labels. I keep all of this in a file on my computer called “How to do things” and saves me hours of time. You can also make notes on what worked and what didn’t work, so you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes for the next project.
As we move into a new year (and new decade), everyone is starting to think about what is on the horizon. Consider what you would be able to achieve if you weren’t hindered by the skills that you lack. What would you accomplish if you could DIY?
We’re in the middle of summer here in the US and yet we’re already seeing signs of fall. Back to school sales are in full swing in every store everywhere. Now that I’ve had a little time to rest and work on a few projects, I’m starting to look ahead to the fall. I have never been a natural organizer, but I know that being organized makes a huge difference in my mental state and helps me to run my business better. Here is a massive list of tasks that will help you get ready for fall. Choose the ones that you think will make your life easier this fall. A little bit of preparation now will make your transition a thousand times easier!
- Go through your email and delete any saved emails from last semester and any students who are no longer in your studio. Archive any important ones.
- Clean out your teaching binder removing any notes or music from past students. File or delete unmarked sheet music. Do the same with your files if you use a tablet instead of a binder.
- Go through your bookshelf. Sort and organize all of your books, removing any books that you no longer use.
- Collect all receipts and statements from the current year and file them. (You will be happy you did this come tax time!)
- Do a deep clean of your computer and the cloud, deleting duplicate and old files. Do a full backup of your computer system to an external hard drive.
- Start files for new students and prepare materials that they might need.
- Check your current roster. Has everyone been assigned a lesson slot? Are payments up to date?
- Check your fall schedule for any conflicts. Are there any holes in the schedule that you can fill? Are any of your days too busy? Do you have enough time off?
- Compare your fall calendar with your child’s school calendar and your family calendar.Are there any overlaps that you can correct now?
- Do an inventory of your music and supplies.Order books, copy manuscript paper, purchase hand sanitizer, straws and office supplies as needed.
- Get your piano tuned. (!!!!)
- Do a deep clean of the studio. Vacuum under the piano, clean your computer screen and keyboard, wash the windows, take everything off your bookshelves and dust under everything.
- Set your goals and intentions for the fall term.What did you learn from last semester? What goals do you have for you teaching, your business, your students and your own professional development.
- Make space in your calendar for exercise, breaks, family time and your own musical development. (Schedule it now before you get too busy!)
- Set some studio-wide goals for your students.More theory, stretching, practice journals, etc.
- Relax and enjoy the rest of the summer. You’re ready for fall!
How are YOU getting ready for the fall semester?
One of my goals for 2019 has been to devote more of my time to reading. This goes along with my digital detox, where I have chosen to spend less time mindlessly scrolling and bingewatching, and finally tackle the massive list of books I’ve been wanting to get through. I have always been a huge reader (an old boyfriend once looked at my bookshelves and said, “Have you read any of these?” The answer – all of them)
How am I keeping up this pace? I am tackling my bookshelf one book at a time, and I have recently become obsessed with the Libby app. The Libby app is a direct line to read e-books from the public library. You can borrow and place holds on books and read them on your e-reader. I replaced the Facebook app on my phone with the Libby app and now whenever I’m waiting in line, taking the bus or sitting at the park while my son runs around, I can read instead of mindlessly scrolling.
(I also snagged 2 free months on Kindle Unlimited, which means I have another place to score the books I need for free. Yippy!)
My 7 year old son is a voracious reader and keeping him in books was costing us a holy fortune. So, I downloaded the Libby and Amazon Kindle app and he is able to search and download the books that he likes. This had made travelling a lot easier, since we no longer need a suitcase just for his reading material. (If only there were an app that covered Legos!). My husband has also upped his reading game, and is now reading some of the books that I have finished. If this keeps up, we’ll have to cancel cable!
Just for fun, I have posted the list of books that I plan to read this summer, noting which ones I have already read. I will be adding to this constantly all summer. Long live the Libby app!
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
The Confidence Code – Katty Kay
The Year of Less – Joshua Becker
How Children Succeed – Paul Tough
Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin
Grit – Angela Duckworth
What If This Were Enough? – Heather Havrilesky
Shrill – Lindy West
The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
How To Break Up With Your Phone – Catherine Price
Eat That Frog! – Brian Tracy
Do It Marketing – David Newman
The One Week Marketing Plan- Mark Satterfield
30-Minute Social Media Marketing – Susan Gunelius
Off The Clock! – Laura Vanderkam
168 Hours – Laura Vanderkam
Juliet’s School of Possibilities – Laura Vanderkam
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
Daily Rituals – Women at Work
Q – The Autobiography of Quincy Jones
Good Things Happen Slowly – Fred Hersch
Little Bee – Chris Cleave
Educated – Tara Westover
The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
Gut – Giulia Enders
Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
You may have read my recent posts on both my artist Facebook page and the Facebook page for my course Piano Skills for Singers. If you missed it, here it is…
As I’m sure you’re all aware, I have been extremely active as a private studio teacher here in NYC. I have been very privileged to have taught over 15 years, and have served hundreds of students one-on-one. It has been an absolute joy and has consumed most of my time.
Effective immediately I have decided to take a mini sabbatical from private teaching. (If you are a current private student, this doesn’t affect you!). I will still be maintaining a small number of private students, but I am reducing the number by about 70%.
Everybody has hairy monsters in the life. You know them. The list of difficult tasks that you’ve been meaning to get to and have been avoiding for months or maybe even years. You know you need to do them. You know they are high value. But they are just complicated and frustrating enough that you have just stuffed them under the bed and hoped that they won’t come out again. Perhaps you prioritize other tasks or get busy with other chores, but the monsters keep lurking until you one day take them on.
Tasks that pull at us often do so because they are actually really important and may even hold the key to massive growth in your personal or professional life. These are high value and high impact Continue reading