In March every Texas band director received a survey from TMEA about our health/sanity/balance/burnout. It was a survey fueled by questions about exercise, diet, and what we do outside of the school day. Jenna, Alex, and I have talked about this a lot over the course of the last two years as none of us want to find ourselves in the place in which band simply is overwhelming to the point of a career change (as many of our friends have reached).
The Texas band system is one on steroids. To say that we brag about how many hours outside of school we spend at the band hall is maybe an understatement. Early in my own career, I decided that was not a path in which I was interested, and therefore efficiency vs. time on the job became the goal.
Each of us physically active outside of work. I (Darcy) exercise 5-6 days a week in addition to the yard work that centers me more than maybe anything. Alex spends his evenings alternating between basketball, jumping rope (for real), and video games. Jenna miraculously manages to find time to work out most days of the week after putting the two tiny Yees to bed. And all of this in the name of not hating our lives or our jobs.
So many of my college friends have already left the profession. While I attribute much of that to kids majoring in music simply because they liked playing their instrument (as opposed to teaching), I strongly believe that music educators create an environment of success by working more. If I worked at Chili’s and chose to show up 2 hours early and leave 2-4 hours late, people would look at me like I was crazy. But band directors arrange their own schedules dictating 12+ hour days for pennies on the hour with pride.
It’s not sane. It’s not healthy. And it’s not heroic.