Are you on a constant quest to become more organised? (Or is that just me!) These organising tools for music teachers have the potential to make your life easier and more efficient. Whether you prefer digital tools, paper tools, or a mix of both, there’s sure to be something on this list that will save your time, money, and sanity!
1. Bullet Journal
Instead of piles of random scribbles on scrap paper and post-it notes, I try to keep all of my lists, plans, ideas, and goals in a bullet journal.
It’s simple to start (all you need is a blank notebook!) and you can customise the system to work for you. Looking for bullet journal inspiration can send you down a massive internet rabbit hole, but here’s some good information on getting set up.
The best thing about bullet journals is the flexibility. My favourite features are the index, collections, and signifiers, but I don’t use it for logs at all. You can easily pick and choose what you want to include, and enjoy having all your ideas and plans in one place!
Evernote is like a digital version of my brain! I use it to keep track of nearly all parts of my life, including my music studio. It’s a great place to develop ideas, save articles, store copies of resources, and keep track of wishlists.
Here’s some information on getting started with Evernote and how I use it to stay organised.
3. Kanban Board
The Kanban Board is the newest organising tool I’ve started using. It’s perfect for having a visual representation of projects that I’m working on in my studio. I heard about the idea from Helen Redfern who uses this method to plan her writing projects, so I’ve made a few changes to the categories I use as a music teacher:
- Studio Admin (lesson planning, financial updates)
- Marketing (website updates, sending newsletters, social media updates)
- Creating Resources (for my studio, the Free Resource Library, and the Pianosaurus Rex Shop)
- Other (any other projects I’m working on)
4. Online Calendar
For someone who loves planning and organising, my time management skills still need work! To better track my appointments and commitments I’ve started using an online calendar for everything (appointments, lessons, deadlines, family commitments, birthdays, holidays, events…).
Being able to access my calendar from my phone, set reminders, and share events with others is definitely helping me to plan my days more effectively! I’ve been using Google Calendar, but iCloud Calendar or Any.do also look like good options.
5. Lesson Planning System
Finding a lesson planning system that works for you will improve your teaching life, guaranteed! Whether you’re a planner or a pantser, it’s possible to find the perfect approach that combines structure and flexibility.
After some trial and error I’ve developed a lesson planning template that works for me (it’s available in the Free Resource Library if you’d like to try it out), and there are a lot of digital and paper options you can test out to find your best fit.
6. Resources Master List
Having an online list of all the lesson resources in your studio is guaranteed to improve your teaching life! I’m not going to lie, it does take a bit of work to set up initially, but it’s definitely worth it when it comes to planning lessons.
Follow these steps to finally keep track of all the music teaching resources you’ve been hoarding over the years:
- Set up a new spreadsheet (in Google Sheets or Apple Numbers)
- Suggested headings include Resource Name, Resource Type, Category, Concepts, Level, Lesson Type
- Go through all your cupboards/drawers/filing cabinets etc and make a list of all the physical resources you have in your studio
- Check your computer files/Evernote/Pinterest etc and make a list of all your electronic resources
- Make sure you’ve filled out the details for each resource in your spreadsheet
- When planning lessons use the filter function to search resources that meet your needs (eg Game, Rhythm, Group etc)
7. Student Folders
One of the easiest ways to keep track of details for each student is to use student folders. Buy some cheap cardboard folders (enough for one for each of your students), label with their names, and you’re good to go!
Perfect for recording essential details (birthdays, phone numbers), storing lesson plans, and keeping anything you need to give to your students (sheet music, worksheets, notices).
I wrote about my set up here if you’d like more information.
8. Financial Software
This is absolutely essential for running a business of any size! There are lots of options available so it’s easy to find something that works for you. My requirements include:
- Dedicated financial software (rather than being part of a music studio management system)
- Able to create and send invoices
- Option to link to bank account transactions for easy data transfer
- Easy reporting options
I’ve been using Wave for a couple of years and love it. It does everything I need, and one of the best features is the cost: free!
Whatever option you choose, make sure to regularly review your finances (you can even be super organised and make it one of your weekly tasks!).