Thirty Thanksgiving Blessings

In the daily grind of teaching, planning recitals, selecting repertoire, dealing with communication, figuring out policies, and more, it’s helpful to take a step back and remember all the tremendous blessings we experience as independent music teachers. It didn’t take long to come up with a collection of thirty things I’m thankful I get to do as an independent music teacher. I hope you find renewed enthusiasm in your calling as a teacher as you read this list – and perhaps you will want to create your own, as well!


  1. Spend one-on-one time with some of my favorite people (a.k.a. my students) every week.
  2. Think of creative solutions to help students overcome their challenges.
  3. Listen to interesting and beautiful music all day long.
  4. Watch students get excited about learning new skills or repertoire.
  5. Lead students to a deeper understanding of music and its relevance in our lives.
  6. Discuss important issues going on in students’ lives and give them support, encouragement, or advice.
  7. Attend meetings with other music teachers to learn and grow in our profession.
  8. Plan fun festivals and recitals for students and their families.
  9. Travel to and explore new places to attend music conferences with colleagues.
  10. Write off on my taxes lots of things that I love to do anyway – go to concerts, buy new music recordings, acquire new sheet music, read music-related books, etc.
  11. Set my own schedule and hours around the times I want to teach and when I want to take vacations.
  12. Learn new skills to become a better teacher, business owner, and musician.
  13. Stay up-to-date on the latest technology and how it can be used to enhance teaching and studio practices.
  14. Participate in the music education blogging community of amazingly creative and generous teachers.
  15. Design custom materials and gifts for my students.
  16. Operate a studio from the comfort of home.
  17. Receive sweet notes and pictures from grateful students and their families.
  18. Improve my communication skills as I respond to inquiries, concerns, and criticisms from parents.
  19. Share a love for the Lord with my students and inspire them to use their talents for His glory.
  20. Make music with others through duets, improvisation, and ensemble playing.
  21. Collaborate with students to produce musical projects and products.
  22. Develop a curriculum that is best-suited for the needs of each individual student.
  23. Pray for wisdom and understanding to know how to best invest in each student’s life – musical and otherwise.
  24. Be flexible in structuring each lesson different on-the-fly as needed.
  25. Love students on their good and bad days to show them that I care about them as a person.
  26. Record videos and CDs of students playing their music that we can listen to for years to come with fond memories.
  27. Attend other special events – parties, plays, sporting events, etc. – to get to know students and their families in contexts outside of piano lessons.
  28. Share what I’m working on with my students so that they can see I’m still learning and growing just like they are.
  29. Help students learn to appreciate beauty and artistry in their lives and in the world around them.
  30. Dream about the potential of each student and how our lessons together today might impact their lives 20 years from now.

Natalie Wickham is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) and enjoys teaching students of all ages and levels in her independent piano studio in Derby, Kansas. She is a member of Music Teachers National Association, serves on the board of the Kansas Music Teachers Association, and is Past-President of the South Central Kansas Music Teachers Association and the Wichita Metropolitan Music Teachers Association.

She is founder of the popular, a blog devoted to inspiring creativity in music education. Music Matters Blog currently receives over 80,000 visits a month and reaches music educators all over the world. She is recognized in the Wikipedia entry on Music Education Bloggers as one “of the greatest catalysts for getting others involved with blogging either as readers, participants, or bloggers themselves.” She also appears periodically as an “on air pundit” for the BAM Radio Educational Network.