Friday, September 30, 2005

61 Hours

Last night I finally figured out why I'm exhausted all the time......

I'm working five 9 to 12 hour days a week. And that doesn't even count Sunday, which is my shortest work day at 7 hours!

All this makes a whopping grand total of 61 hours, six days a week..... And that's on a good week!

(The past two weeks have NOT been good weeks.)

Then, to make things seem even worse, I did some further analysis.....
  • hourly compensation for these fun-filled 61 hours comes to about $15
  • only 25 of these hours are spent in actual money-making activities (which includes driving time)
  • the other 36 hours are spent in planning, prep, creative brainstorming, admin, practicing, writing, etc all in anticipation of doing the money-making activities

Hm.... something's got to give..... if I can figure out how to whittle down 11 hours, that would give me a 50-hour work week at $18.50 an hour.... (whoo-hoo!! THAT's better!)

There have been two major time gobblers since August. One is the UAH Music Lit class, with an average class prep time of 6 hours (with 2 classes a week, that's 12 hours!!) I'm working on strategies to get that down to 4-6 hours a week. (Keep your fingers crossed!!)

The other time gobbler has been the commissioned piece I've been writing for the Huntsville Brass Band - which is now completed!!!!!!!! (I'm just 'slightly' excited about that!)

I turned in the final version of score and parts last night. The premiere is November 3, Thursday evening, at Trinity United Methodist Church. (Either 7:00 or 7:30, not sure.)

Time spent on it? About 72.5 hours (or more, since I wasn't maticulous about my time-keeping). And if I were going to get paid for it at my current hourly rate of $15 an hour, that time spent would bring in $1087.

Which would actually be pretty cool.... IF it was a paying commission. (I really need to work on the "paying" part of that activity!)

Oh well, great experience.... learned a lot....

((.... now tell me again.... how many more of these do I need to do to get to the paying part?))

Here's to continuing the Journey.... and trying to figure out how to make more money in less time.... or for starters, how to make the SAME money in less time.... that would be good too!


Saturday, September 17, 2005

That Fuzzy-Brain-Dead Thing

This fall has been non-stop, full-speed-ahead since it began about 3-4 weeks ago!

On top of trying to finish up a commission for the Huntsville Brass Band, (concert November 3 at Trinity), teaching my own students and classes at Water Music Studio, composition students from UAH, and preparing for various concerts and rehearsals at UAH and Trinity, I'm teaching my first "real" class at UAH this semester - Music Liturature.

The class is basically a semester-long study of music - it's history, composers, and their works from the Middle Ages (450) through the 21st Century (today) - for non-musicians. The first unit was all about terms and concepts needed to even discuss music..... Try making that a fun couple of classes for 30-40 accounting, biology, computer and various other science-type majors who are there because they needed the credit hours and this was the only class that would fit in their schedule!!

But somehow, amid the blank stares, yawns and general fumblings of a first-time lecturing classroom teacher, we've made it through the basics, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with our first exam on Monday. (For your amusement, you can see class notes and stuff I've set up for them at MU100.)

Some classes have been really good. Most, though, I've walked away feeling rather down about them. It's probably mostly my perfectionism talking.... "You've been teaching for 25 years. You should be able to do this much better than it's all turning out! AND it shouldn't take you 6 or more hours to prepare for one class!"

But, in reality, it does take 6 plus hours - or at least it has been. And I've learned that just because I've done all this preparation doesn't mean I'm necessarily going to feel "prepared" as I walk into class. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

I've also learned that standing up in front of 30-40 students in a classroom is equivilant to standing up and talking in front of a small audience. And just because I've got my outline and know what I want to say.... it doesn't mean I'm going to remember everything or that I'll be clear-headed enough to even follow my outline when I get in front of them.

I don't know which is more frustrating, the fuzzy-brain-dead thing that hits me without rhyme or reason when I enter the classroom, or the 6 plus hours it takes to prepare (and then the fuzzy-brain-dead thing hits anyway)!

I DO know that I can't keep going this way. If it's going to take at least 6 hours to prepare, then I need to budget for that time. Luckily, with Monday's exam already prepared, I can use my next few planning periods to get ahead on the next unit. Also, now that I've discovered more of the on-line teaching resources that are available, I'm going to change the way I prepare for each class.

And best of all, talking to one of my adult private students who does a lot of classroom teaching, he gave me some of great ideas and strategies for presenting the material and keeping the students involved, awake and yawn-free. (Thanks Tim!!)

So - now with renewed hope in the class planning and presentation department, my mind is free to get back to finishing the Brass Band Piece, which had to take a backseat when UAH classes started...... Yipee!

Here's to continuing the Journey.... learning to juggle projects, speak confidently to groups, and keep that fuzzy-brain-dead thing at bay!