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Exhaustion and education

woman leaning on table

It’s that time of year. Where all teachers, including music educators, start to slowly wilt, declaring that we need a holiday. Desperately.

I reality, and I’m sorry to remind teachers (in England) of this, but we have only been back at work for 5 weeks since our last break. Only. Five. Weeks.

I could swear it was longer than that.

At lot of people respond to this with the simple, ‘but everyone is exhausted at the moment, right? Teachers aren’t somehow more exhausted than everyone else. They’re just complaining too much.’

As I write this, I am sitting in a cafe on my weekend, catching up on work I didn’t finish during the week because I wasn’t well, waiting for the coffee that I didn’t have in my house because I decided to get someone to make one for me. But I haven’t been served yet, and I am SO tired that all I want to do is shout and cry if it doesn’t arrive in the next five seconds.

In other words, I am exhausted.

(In good news, the coffee did arrive).

So what is it about music education that is so exhausting?

Many things, and I could write an entire book about it. The workload, demanding parents, oftentimes poor management, demanding parents, keeping up with professional development, demanding parents.

We don’t need to have one of these conversations about what it is that makes music teaching so exhausting. As we all live it, we know.

What I do want to talk about is effective boundaries, and recognising when to stop.


Teachers work too hard. We work too hard on things that we really don’t need to work too hard on. We create beautiful displays, that students genuinely don’t care about. We craft perfect lessons, only to have them cut short by the reality of life. We push for perfection, always. And perfection doesn’t exist.

So in the lead up to Christmas, and that precious holiday, I want you to remember some simple facts.


There is no such thing as perfect.

It will never all be done, no matter how hard you try.

You are important. Without you, there is no learning.

Value yourself, and take time to rest. You won’t regret it.


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