10 Things I Use as a Traveling Teacher
Since I teach both privately and at a college, I don't have one singular place where I teach 24/7. My home studio is my headquarters, but I have a college office and I also travel to several schools throughout the week.
My students are on many different levels and have different goals, so I always try to be prepared with things that help me and my students have a productive lesson. These are the things I try to never leave home without!
These two are the most traditional practice tools, and the cool thing is that they're usually combined and available as an app. Students are always told to use these tools but aren't always told how to use them in practice, so I always have my tuner/met app out on the music stand to build confidence using it.
My personal favorite app is Tunable because it does the basics and more. My favorite feature is that you can record bits of your practice session and get immediate feedback about your intonation tendencies.
There's a free version and a paid version, but as a full-time musician and teacher it's a small price to pay for a necessary practice tool!
I can sometimes have up to 13 students on one of my traveling days. In the "old days" I would have to lug a small suitcase around to have all of my teaching books and sheet music. Thanks to technology, I can have my entire sheet music library at my fingertips with my iPad.
I use it for sight reading, making set lists for each student, and to practice in between my lessons.
Honestly when I first thought about an iPad as a broke college student, I immediately passed on it. But now I'm so glad I made the investment (my back is glad, too).
Pens and Pencils
Okay, I know I just sang praises for digital sheet music, but physical sheet music isn't completely dead yet! I keep lesson notes for each lesson to help me and my student keep track of their assignments each week.
Plus, no matter how many times you remind students to bring a pencil, it can be easy to forget. I keep a small stash of pens and pencils in my flute bag so that students can write helpful notes in their music, and so I can keep track of our progress.
Even though my iPad does everything my phone does, I like having both in lessons to split the load. While my students are reading music on the iPad, I use my phone to play music, take recordings/pictures for educational purposes, display the tuner/metronome, and so much more.
Most of my students have rental or hand-me-down instruments, and are in marching band, too. I always keep my mini screwdriver handy for the small repairs. I check every student's instrument about once a month to fix minor issues and to find bigger issues that require a repair technician.
I don't recommend fiddling with your own or your student's instrument unless you know what you're doing!
An instrument stand is a great way to keep your flute safe and out of reach when you're doing more than just playing in a lesson. I definitely talk with my hands, so my flute spends a good chunk of lessons on the stand. It's better than leaving it on the floor or a chair, and most stands can fold up for easy carrying.
I float between the Hercules flute stand and the K & M traveling flute stand. Both are great quality, but the Hercules stand is sturdier and hard to knock over.
A teacher must always be prepared! I don't leave home without a hefty supply of alcohol wipes, because band rooms and practice rooms can be a prime space for germs and bacteria. When a student struggles with a concept, it can be easy to blame the instrument.
I wipe their instrument down and test it to either confirm that yes, it really is the instrument, or no, they need to give it another try!
My husband always gets frustrated with me because on a traveling teaching day I almost ALWAYS forget to eat and hydrate. I literally lose track of time and by the end of the day my body is begging for water.
My iron flask is 60 oz and fits snugly in my flute bag. I covered it with some cool stickers and now it not only keeps me hydrated, it's also a great conversation point when my student finds a sticker that speaks to them.
I'm a naturally anxious person, mostly because my plans have plans for my plans. A stress ball serves two purposes for me: it helps me keep my hands busy in between lessons and it's a useful teaching tool. I use it to help model natural right hand positions and to build strength in weaker digits.
Soundbrenner (wearable metronome)
I know I started this list with a metronome, but the persistent clicking of the metronome in lesson after lesson can be a lot for my poor little ears. This metronome is cool because it looks like a watch and you can feel the vibration of the tempo.
A lot of my students think it's a fun way to use the metronome and actually find it easier to play in tempo. As a teacher, if it builds confidence, it's a keeper!
What are your flute bag essentials when you're on the go? Check out the blog and our Instagram page for more stuff!