15 Years ago in Bandworld
It's All About Time
by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser
Vol. 12, #4, p.9 (March - April, 1997)
Time management. Now there's a subject worth some time. It's time to discuss this important element of success. Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you?
1) Just as the rehearsal starts to develop some momentum, we ran out of time.
2) The fund-raising project could have been so effective, but we didn't have enough time to really do it justice.
3) Studying the musical scores is a great idea, but when would I find the time?
4) The administrators never take the time to really understand our program.
5) I have organizational skills, but I don't have the time to really put them into practice.
6) The concert was O.K. It could have been fantastic if we just had a bit more time.
And on, and on, and on, until the end of—you guessed it—time.
The one equalizing factor in this world is time. We all have twenty-four hours in the day; no more, no less. Successful educators are masters at managing time. They have just as much to do as everyone else, but they (somehow) are able to complete their agendas in the given amount of time. What's their secret?
Many of us have come to associate “busy" with “productive." It is certainly true, we can be busy and productive, but are we sometimes “busy" doing the tasks that are best suited for our talents? Do we prioritize and assign ourselves the teacher-only responsibilities or do we get caught in that undertow of escape activities?
There is one person in your organization who must-know-the-score (no pun intended), YOU are the designated individual; therefore rehearsal preparation must be at the top of your to-do list. Stuffing folders and setting up the chairs and stands for rehearsal can be accomplished by a student manager or a select group of student leaders. Consequently if you catch yourself using your time to do something that could easily be assumed by your students, simply STOP and review your priorities. Take the time to teach someone else the “right way” to prepare music folders and properly set up the equipment for the upcoming rehearsal. The benefits are twofold; the students embrace more ownership of the ensemble's success, and YOU are now free to focus your time on learning-the-musical-score.
If it is such a simple process, why don't we apply it to every aspect of our profession? Why do we often find ourselves in a state of urgency, or always rushing to meet the given deadline? Being a full-fledged member of the not-enough-time club, I have devoted time to the research of time management. After much study it is painfully clear; the problem is me. According to the experts we sidestep effective prioritizing for two basic reasons:
1) Doing the less-challenging duties helps us avoid the disappointment we experience in unknown territory. In other words (to stay with our score-study example), it is more comfortable and less taxing to stuff folders and organize music stands than it is to analyze the thematic material of a new composition. We aren't as likely to fail or feel as inadequate; it's a shallow attempt to feed our sense-of-accomplishment, but the impact is short-lived. Avoidance is a human condition; it's not that we don't know what to do, it's that we don't want to do it, so we look for opportunities that will divert our focus and still keep us busy. Our fear-of-incompetence will convince us we would be wasting time if we committed ourselves to a lengthy examination of the compositional aspects of the musical score. As a result of this rationalization we end up with a group of people sitting attentively in a rehearsal, with chairs and stands neatly in place, using up valuable time because the conductor (lacking a workable knowledge of the music) is not prepared to “lead” the ensemble.