Tidying Up the Music Studio; 3 Things I Learned from Marie Kondo


January took an unexpected turn in our household. My husband and I had a goal to clean out the garage. It’s been something we have been needing to do for a while. About a week before we were going to put that goal into action, I had heard about a new Netflix show called, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Okay… chances are high you probably have heard of this if not watched it already. Let’s just say watching all 6 episodes with my husband in one week had a MAJOR snowball effect.

What was going to be just our garage in January, turned into going through our clothes, our Media, Books, Filing Cabinets and even my Church Music!

11 tubs and 30 big garbage and kitchen bags later (plus a ton of shredded paper), we are still not done! It’s amazing how much one accumulates over the years. All this was NOT on my original to-do list for January, but let me tell you, I learned a lot by doing it! It opened up my eyes in so many ways and made me even think of my teaching life.

Marie Kondo has you go through an interesting process when tidying up. When you watch the show, you may find yourself rolling your eyes or shaking your head at times because it might seem a little silly. But after going through the process, I now understand why she has you do what she does. Let me share the top 3 things that I learned from Marie Kondo…

1- Take it ALL out!

This was probably one of the things I wanted to resist doing right away. My natural being would rather go through things in an organized fashion. Tub by tub or in the case of clothes, drawer by drawer. But Marie has you take it ALL out. When it was time for my husband and I to go through the clothes, I suggested that we skip that part and do it the “organized” way, but he insisted that we do it the Marie Kondo way so we did….

Let me tell you, it was overwhelming! And I think that was the point. It should be overwhelming or you wouldn’t get rid of things. I also realized that I found items that were hiding in my closet that I either forgot about or didn’t know what happened to because it was hiding. If I hadn’t brought it all out, it may have still be hidden somewhere.

2- Does it Bring You Joy?

Marie Kondo wants you to ask yourself when going through your things, does it “spark joy”? If it doesn’t bring you joy in some way then it may be best to let it go. Now there are some things that you may own as a necessity more than if it brings you joy or not and that’s totally fine. Keep it. But for things that might not be a necessity, it’s a great question to ask!

3- Be Thankful

As you are letting go of things that don’t “spark joy”, Marie has you thank the item. Now when I first saw this, I will admit that I thought it was going to the extreme. But after watching several episodes I realized why she has you do this. She explained in one episode that even though the item may no longer spark joy, it served its purpose in some way, even if it was an unused item. Maybe the purpose was to teach a lesson to not purchase things that don’t bring joy. (There is something to be said about impulse buying)

As we were going through the tidying up process with our household items, I knew I would eventually need to go through this process with my studio. This opened up all sorts of questions and thoughts.

Let’s start with music.

Like most music teachers, I have a TON of music. I have bookshelves and filing cabinets bursting at the seams. I can’t even tell you how much of that music has sat there unused for years! After all, I may want to use it with a student one day… I know you can relate. Tidying Up has helped me re-evaluate what I want to keep and how I want to present and teach music to my students.

Should a student learn a piece that doesn’t bring them joy? Is there another piece that can teach the same concepts but does bring them joy? This is what I will be asking more and more. When it comes down to it, there really is not a reason to learn a piece that a student absolutely doesn’t like. I’m not saying they shouldn’t try it, because many of my students ended up loving a piece they initially resisted. I am suggesting if a student is not going anywhere on a piece after 2-3 weeks, it may be time to move on.

Do I dare mention students or parents that might not bring you joy?

In a perfect world, we would never have problem parents that seem to enjoy testing our policies or students who don’t practice week after week after week, but these things do happen. The question to ask is are they sparking joy in your studio? If the answer is no, maybe it’s time to make room for someone who will.

Now let’s talk about gratitude.

I am so thankful that I can teach music. I have some great students with great parents. Many of them have been with me for many years. Oh, how thankful I am for those families! I have the best job in the world! Remember when Marie said we should thank things that we are letting go of? I think that still applies to the families you may need to let go. Give gratitude for the lesson that was learned from having to let them go. Learning experiences, while difficult at the moment, are life long lessons that push us towards joy.

How about you? Have you gone through the process of tidying up? What things have you learned?



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