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Before yesterdayMusic Teacher Lifestyle

Do Your Best

18 June 2017 at 11:38
By: Ioana

Every time we get ready for a piano recital, students feel the need to find a reason for preparing for it. Maybe I should prepare to show off my skills. Maybe I should prepare to avoid being laughed at if I make mistakes. Maybe I should prepare so that my parents see their money’s worth. Or maybe I should prepare just to have the teacher off my back for a change.

I finally took charge and changed their focus, because we are not educating children to have their best performances and to make everyone proud. It’s great if we can achieve a great performance, but the recital is not what we’re working for. We’re teaching the ACTUAL WORK.

It’s the journey that matters, it’s the effort you put in it.

It’s about how you treat responsibilities when no one is watching you. How do you practice when you’re alone? Do you visit the piano just to sign your attendance sheet? Or do you actually want to learn something and get better while you’re at it?

It’s about doing your job the best you can, even if you can’t have a guaranteed perfect result. Being able to say: the emotions might get the best of me and I might mess up a few things, but I am so content I finally managed to conquer this difficult passage. I am better because of it and less afraid of a greater challenge.

That’s when you can have no regrets when something goes wrong and you can say: I did my best, there is nothing I could’ve done to prevent this mishap.Β 

The last thing I want them to do is to compare themselves with other children and imagine all the ifsΒ situations. No ifs. Their only goal should be to find their true self by improving from their present state.

So keep being an inspiration for your children, show them what it means to do your best and why that is enough. Encourage them to pursue healthy habits and allow them to make mistakes as long as they’re doing their best.



Child's fingers put on piano keys



6 June 2017 at 03:15
By: Ioana

Artist in Residence is a program organised by Bucharest City Hall through ARCUB, the engine of most of the cultural events that happen in Bucharest.

The curator of this program’s first season is Lucian Ban, one of the greatest Β Romanian contemporary jazz pianists and composers. He has selected and invited in this program a series of awesome jazz musicians from Romania and from abroad to perform and inspire with fresh and modern jazz projects.

These concerts are available to everyone.

I’m writing to invite you this Thursday, June the 8th, at Hanul Gabroveni to enjoy a double concert held by vibraphone player, Corey Mwamba, from UK and by INNER VOICE, a Romanian-Brazilian trio formed by Albert Tajti – piano, Michael Acker – bass and Matheus Jardim – drums.

You can find all the details of this event HEREΒ and HERE.



Why I teach

5 June 2017 at 07:32
By: Ioana

I have given up a long time ago the intention of β€œcreating excellent musicians”. I have discovered that there are many ways through which music can help and enrich a child’s life and mind. This is my list.

  • I want my students to experience and practice discipline, disciplined behaviour, disciplined habits, so that later on in life, they will be able to set aside their moods and be able to focus and do what needs to be done.
  • I want my students to exercise the action of trying and failing multiple times until they get it right, so they learn this concept that no matter how hard something is, as long as you’re still trying, there is a chance to win, even after failing.
  • I want my students to understand that music is not easy and simply the fact that they’re studying it, makes them better, makes them stronger, makes them smarter.
  • I want my students to open their minds to music and art beyond what they hear and see daily, to enlarge their cultural universe. This way they’ll be able to discern art from kitsch, good musicians from dilettantes.
  • I want my students to easily and confidently join a singing group, whether it’s at school, whether it’s at church, at a concert or an impromptu burst of singing with friends.
  • I want my students to confidently and proudly sit at a piano in a hotel lobby and just play for the fun of it.
  • I want my students to be able to play all the holiday songs for the family and create an awesome habit that gathers the family around music.
  • I want my students to be used to playing before crowds in order to face their fears, again and again, until they learn to control it.
  • When my students meet other musicians, I want them to be proud that they can speak the same language and learn that it brings all kinds of people together.
  • I want my students to recognise, enjoy and appreciate good music and pass on this passion to their children and grandchildren.
  • I want my students to be educated, well-balanced, confident in their own powers, aware of their destinyΒ in this world, to be kind people with integrity and character who also believe in miracles and sometimes make it happen.

Woman hand use tablet and playing piano music


Teach More

6 May 2017 at 15:50
By: Ioana

When I was preparing to become a teacher, I thought for sure I was gonna be bad at it, because I didn’t know how I could possibly connect with kids, I don’t even know how to talk to them.

I had friends that would automatically change their voice and their behaviour when they were talking to children and I knew I’m not gonna do that. It sounded and looked ridiculous to me. Kids seemed to be fine with it so I thought that this is the only way to communicate with them. I’m gonna suck at teaching.

Stubborn as I am, I refused to change my ways or try anything new so I decided to talk to children as I would talk to adults. Sure, I had to explain a lot of words, but eventually we got there and kids seemed to understand and like my manner just fine. Some of them even understood my sarcasm. Fun times!

As I became attached to these children I began to care about their future and who they become and decided to always teach more than music.

Teaching discipline – as any musician can confirm, discipline is the constant decision to do what is right despite not feeling like it. You learn to reject your moods, reject your momentary lack of interest for that certain activity, you draw all your energy towards it and you do it. And the fruit of this action will be the inspiration my mind will use next time I’m facing this problem.

Teaching perseverance – to never give up. We don’t just rehearse, we don’t just repeat a passage, we observe, we improve, we discernΒ our own failures and we learn how to be better and how to be better at getting better.

Teaching wisdom/discernment. As in the art of silently observing yourself and others in all situations, the art of gathering all of your knowledge and all of your experiences to properly react to a situation.

Teaching authenticity. In my own words β€œweird is the new cool”. Not in the sense that you’re not cool if you’re not weird, so get weird, but in the sense that all kids at one point or another start to compare themselves with other children and probably wonder why they are different in some ways. In the wrong setting, they could think there’s something wrong with them. So we should always show acceptance of who they are and celebrate their uniqueness and our own. You’ll want your child to choose as a role model a person who is happy with themselves.

silhouette of a happy children and happy time with sunset.


10 Healthy Habits

30 April 2017 at 10:00
By: Ioana

So when you hit 30 and already your back is killing you, your knees crack when you get up and stuff starts hurting with no apparent reason, you’re thinking it’s time for a change. You are nowhere near the end of your life and you can’t spend another 30 years with this situation going on or getting worse.

So here it is. My list of healthy habits for you. This post will only contain the healthy habits that we can actually afford. Wink!

1. Drink waterΒ 

This is probably a weird one for some of you, why would someone need to include water in a list. Well, there’s the drink 2 l of water a day theory and then, there’s the listen to your body and drink water when you’re thirsty theory. If I do the latter I might not even drink water at all in a day. I’m guessing that’s not ok. And the fact that my body does’t react to that and is just used to it, is also not ok. So I’m trying to make a habit out of drinking at least 4 glasses of water a day. But I’m telling you right now: teaching and water DO NOT go well together.

2. Drink tea

I’ve already mentioned this in a previous post,Β I Put the Tea in Teacher.Β Teas are a great supplement for your body’s needs. There probably is a tea for any sensitivity you might have. But as I recently learned, in order to get the best out of your tea experience make sure you know exactly when the best time to drink that tea is. Search benefits and cautions for the tea you’re drinking and enjoy!

3. Have a fruit

I say have a fruit because I literally cannot function without some sugar in my system. And the first choice will always be a fruit. The next choice is honey in my tea. The next-next choice is a fruit again.

4. Sleep

I love waking up with a purpose. When I was in school I was a morning person, never had difficulties waking up, I was productive and I kind of miss that. Not waking up, I miss the energy. Even thought about joining the successful people’s 5am club to get more things done and just feel like I’m better than everyone else, but then it was so dark outside and my pillow seemed fluffier than ever.

Whatever your life allows, enjoy your sleep and make the right adjustments to suit your needs.

5. Laugh

I specifically remember a time in my life when I was sinking in my problems, couldn’t see a way out and didn’t even try to find a way out. I thought I had to accept what I was going through and just stay there. But then I got really inspired, in my laziness and in my sorrow to start watching comedies. Movies I have seen before, of course, even a few seasons of Friends to get me out the funk. That was a good choice. I laughed and laughed and laughed until things didn’t look as gloomy as before. I guess if you’re fooling your body long enough to laugh, soon enough it will start to believe it is happy.

6. Cook

From breakfast improv with salads and/or fruits to comforting stews on a cold weekend, you’ve got to start experimenting with food. It is healthier, cheaper and yummier. As a cooking aficionado myself, I would recommend cooking for other people, not just for yourself, food is better when shared with people you love.

7. Practice gratitude

Choose a time in your day to count your blessings. Maybe when you’re brushing your teeth, maybe on the subway or while you’re waiting for the green light, just be content with the things you have right now.

8. Practice kindness

Smile more. Say Hello and Goodbye, have a nice dayΒ to the tired cashier, make someone laugh at work, be kind to yourself, start changing your mindset…kindness starts in the mind.

9. Move

Find a moving activity for yourself. It doesn’t even have to have a social side, you don’t necessarily need to join a gym if you don’t want to. It can be as easy as finding your favourite songs on youtube and dancing all by yourself.

10.Spend time with friends

Life can get really complicated at times. We will get so sick and tired, but you gotta make that extra-effort and mark it in your calendar to meet your friends, to have a movie night, a wine night, a kick-ass Blitz night, eating carbs, mozzarella and garlic. They seem to go together well.

Hoping you are all inspired. Healthy living isn’t that expensive after all. Let me know if you’ve got any new ideas to add to the list.

Have a great new week!

Young beautiful couple


Romania celebrates International Jazz Day

26 April 2017 at 04:00
By: Ioana

I promised I would get back to you with a list of jazz events for International Jazz Day in Romania. Unfortunately I only found a few, apparently this year the local administrations weren’t as interested in organising the usual events they had in the previous years for JazzDay.

So here they are – click on each one to see details.

  1. JazzDay in Sibiu – Snaco Dixieland

2.Β JazzDay in Ploiesti – The Art of Quartet

3.Β JazzDay in Bucharest – Prietenii muzicii

4. JazzDay in Bucharest – GreenHours

So if you still want to give jazz a chance this year, check out my list withΒ Romanian Jazz FestivalsΒ and find one close to you. If you live in Bucharest you can find my suggestions for a nice jazz evening in Jazz Spots in Bucharest.

If you are not Romanian and you still want to join the celebration on April 30th you can definitely find your country’s events HERE, on the JazzDay official page. This year the global concert will be taking place in Havana, Cuba… lucky them!



Teacher Struggles

21 April 2017 at 16:10
By: Ioana

Despite the popular belief, a teacher’s struggles have nothing to do with teaching.

We already know how to teach. We’ve studied years and years of psychology, pedagogy, class management and all the modern methods available out there to be fully prepared to teach and serve.

Unfortunately we were never prepared for the real struggles. And if we would have been warned about all these, I’m not sure we would’ve been as enthusiastic about working in education.

  • PLANNING. You learn how to meticulously plan your lessons and how to structure the entire curriculum for an entire year (which sometimes is hard enough, especially for music, 1h/week), but no one tells you you’ll never have the time to actually write down the plans. So you have to sacrifice the small breaks between classes to get something done, you’ll have to spend your evenings and weekends writing down and if you thought you were done in two months, you’ll have to go over your plans all over again and modify every small change that occurs. And they do occur. Best case scenario, if you don’t sacrifice your personal time and your holidays, you’ll probably be done with the planning by the end of the school year.
  • SCHOOL MANAGEMENT. As if teacher life hasn’t disappointed you enough so far… The school management can become a dreadful problem when people forget why they became educators in the first place. When they are motivated by money and status, everything goes south: communication, attitude, interest…everything. Teachers are no longer treated with respect, they are not encouraged to pursue excellence, the passion for teaching dims down and everything becomes a drag.
  • PARENTS. It’s incredibly hard to leave your child every day in the teacher’s care, trusting that he will still get the same love and support you provide for him at home…so hard. I wish I could say that all the mean and inconsiderate comments that we receive Β sometimes are simply coming out of that fear. Sometimes parents lash out on us because they had a bad day or sometimes they just blow a situation out of proportion. The teacher absorbs everything. We feed on the feed-back. We rarely get feed-back and when we do it’s probably some complaint. And it’s amazing how one little mistake, one day, one event can drop a huge shadow over all the other 200 school days.
  • SCHEDULE. Being a teacher is not like any other job. You have your weekly schedule set up. You have to live with it the whole school year. You are irreplaceable. If you miss one day, your classes will be held by other teachers that are on break. They’ll have to go to your spare folder with lessons especially prepared for such an occasion and all the lessons there have to be assignments and individual work because no one else can teach your subject. And when you come back you’ll have to rearrange your lessons because you lost one, for every single class that day. Imagine missing one week. A nightmare. You are not allowed to get sick. If you can stand, you can teach. Try to get pregnant according to schedule. 3 pregnant teachers at once is unacceptable. Having to go on maternity leave in the middle of the school year is unacceptable. Your mom needs to be picked up from the airport? No. There are no emergencies, there are no personal days, there are no bills to be payed and no doctor appointments, you can’t leave earlier and complete your hours the next day, you cannot escape your schedule. Your life is not a priority anymore, your classes are. Everything revolves around them. And somehow you have to fit your life into this schedule and find the time to enjoy it.
  • MONEY. To this day I can’t understand the criteria they use to assign salaries for teachers. I’d say if I have to put my life on hold for this job, I should at least not have to worry about next month’s rent or buying a new winter coat. It’s ridiculous.

So as you can see we don’t become teachers because it’s so convenient, so well paid, we are so well-treated and it’s so, so easy.

You know what I always say? If you can’t help me, at least don’t stand in my way!…



I put the Tea in Teacher

12 April 2017 at 12:00
By: Ioana

Ever since I was small I was used to have a cup of tea in the morning and one in the evening.

We somehow always had some kind of tea in the cupboard because we lived near a forest and there were lots of medicinal plants you could find and my mom used to pick them up, dry them out and make tea for various ailments.Β 3-reasons-add-rosehip-oil-skin-care-routine

We had rosehip, mint, camomile and some bitter plants I never tried to taste.

These are still among my favourite teas, I only added artichoke leaf tea (quite bitter) to help out my little friend, the liver, green tea to hopefully help my blood circulation and ginger tea to fight whatever life throws at me.


There are so many things we can prevent and heal by drinking tea, especially if you live or work in a stressful environment. It should be part of the taking care of yourself process. You know…like chocolate…and wine…and massage.

Find whatever tea you feel your body needs, learn all about it and start drinking and enjoying it’s effects. If nothing else, you’ll be hydrated.

My suggestion is toΒ look for the tea that you prepare yourself, the dried leaves, instead of the tea bags. You’ll learn to love the process.

Coffee cup with book





10 April 2017 at 15:00
By: Ioana

I only came across this term last year.

We don’t have a word for grit in Romanian. Not exactly.

But as soon as I heard it, I knew that was the element that I’ve been trying to describe all these years when I was talking about myself and my journey.

It’s the against all odds, never stop fightingΒ story.

I come from fairly poor family. And it’s not the poor family that still tries. It’s the other one. The poor family that stopped trying and is just waiting for the worst to happen.

So it’s pretty amazing and a little bit weird that I was so successful in all my inquiries despite being one of the least talented kids in my music school. I aced everything but music.

There was a connection missing, couldn’t find the passion in any solfeggio or music dictation and I dreaded practicing (that is until I found jazz, of course). Choir. I loved choir. Choir was cool. Actually I kinda miss it.

What I am trying to say is that it took so much to find the inner support for me to step forward and grab the opportunities that were awaiting, in this situation, where I could’t have anything concrete to rely on. Not my talent. Not my family. Not money.

So I did the only thing I could do and hoped for the best. I worked hard. I worked more than anyone to catch up with everyone else.

I didn’t stop and I never considered the option to stop.

And I decided: if this is who I have to be, I’m gonna be the best there is.

So you have to love something so much that you never stop pursuing it.

We can’t teach grit. But we can teach passion. We can pass on the passion. The thirst for success and the hunger for victories can be contagious as long as we don’t lose our own grit.


Photo credit

Teenage girl wearing glasses, carrying a backpack to the travel.


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