Finding Balance, Making a Living

It is possible to make a living doing music, but in order to do so, one must be diverse.

Updating the drum studio and other things

Well, I haven't blogged for awhile.  It's been a crazy year.  I am busier than ever teaching private drum and piano students, directing Rex Putnam's KINGSMEN THUNDER Drum Line (year 6 and going!), and performing in musical theaters for several shows.  I've also had a year that through me for a loop:  I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am one of the lucky ones though.  It was caught early and very small, NOT in the lymph nodes.  So I had two lumpectomies and radiation treatment and the support of all my lovely friends, my husband and son, and my wonderful students.  Telling them all was difficult.  With younger students, I told the parents and let them decide what to share.  Eventually, my being tired after all the surgeries and treatments began to show.  But I must say how wonderful everyone was in supporting me.  So now that I am "cancer-free" (I'll always be looking over my shoulder of course) I can get back to what I love:  playing and teaching drums and piano.  

 

The drum studio needed updating, so I'm pleased to announce that new lighting, paint, carpet, and decor (going with funky modern) will be a fresh outlook and help me and my students be in an organized and inspiring environment for learning.  I'm also slightly raising my rates, registering my students, and providing more practice parent support materials to ensure higher success rate in progress.  While I'm not 100 percent back to my full energy level, I am energized about moving forward.  I am blessed to have had a waiting list for my services for over a year (meaning that at no time am I worried about filling a spot, there seems to be calls almost every week or month and very little turnover).  So moving on, I will be blogging more and writing more.  Hope you like the new look and pics!  I was lucky to keep my hair with my battle with cancer.  I am grateful to be here and will continue to rock on!  

 

Love and sparkles,  Rene'

Anyone reading this?

Hey do me a favor will ya?  Email me if you are reading any of these blogs.  Considering opening my own blog site.  Cheers and have a great holiday!

 

Rene'

 

Keeping busy with diversity

BECAUSE A MUSIC TEACHER WHO WALKS THE TALK IS MORE VALUABLE THAN ONE WHO SIMPLY GRINDS THROUGH.

On raising rates for lessons

So, as many of you know who have been with me for over a year, I have not raised my rates for at least 3 years.  I have put this off for several reasons:  

I want to keep it accessible for kids to take drum and piano lessons

I fear folks leaving because they think it's "too high"

I am lazy and just haven't done it

After realizing that I have been a "heck of a deal" for so long, I decided to just do it.  The result has yet to be tallied.  First off, there is no good way for instructors or any business to raise rates.  Also there are always new students joining and it will seem too much too soon for those who aren't actually checking around on prices.  I have had to stick my plan though.  It has come to my attention from other instructors and the fact that I am having to work twice as hard to make a fair living that I just needed to bring things in line.  I pay for lessons much more than I charge and even with my rate increase, I'm still shy of what others are charging.  

You get what you pay for, especially with professional musicians.  I'm going to toot the horn here:  I've been teaching for over 20 years, I do recitals (something many other drum instructors won't do because they are so time consuming), I am a credentialed teacher, have a degree, and am a currently very active performing and recording musician.  I bring all that to my lessons with my students.  Students learn how to be a whole musician, not just the mechanics of playing the drums or piano.  Only experienced pros can teach how to be a whole musician:  not just a performer, but a professional and how to act accordingly so you get hired back.  There are many music lesson teacher "clearing houses" that offer teachers to come to your house to teach your student.  I don't recognize ANY of those percussionists.  Why?  Because they are usually not credentialed, have no degrees, or simply lack experience.  Many are young and without the finesse to relate to all ages and types of students.  I know, because I was one of them years ago.  Granted, I did have my degree before I started actually accepting money for giving lessons to anyone, I went from home to home, and was NOT prepared for some of the questions, technics, and finesse that teaching requires.  I also didn't get paid very much back then and it was a ton of effort to go around and drive to people's homes.  The companies who set these up make a pretty penny off the teachers/musicians with little or no effort at getting quality serious students.  There are exceptions, but these clearing houses drive rates down and give the public a cheap watered-down version and possibly a bad first introduction to music and playing.  

So you want a good teacher for your child?  Do your home work.  Check out what the top music stores (and I'm NOT talking about the Walmart of music stores, Guitar Center for example).  I'm talking about real music stores run by real musicians who care about your music education LONG TERM and about having a relationship with you, the actual customer.  They will refer to the best teachers in the area.  Then from there, it's just about finding the right fit.  The rates for those teachers are and should be similar.  The more $$, the higher up the food chain of teachers you will go.  Don't bottom feed for lessons, you will most likely be leaving your student with an inexperienced teacher who may not be the right fit.  

On the other hand, how do these inexperienced teachers get experience?  By being so active in the schools and music scene, that they GET on those referral lists at the real music stores, schools, colleges, and word-of-mouth.  

I did agonize about raising my rates.  I know we are still in a recession.  I have a strong intrinsic desire to teach and love it, but as my utilities, my own continuing music education, and everything else goes up, so eventually do my rates.  I'm only sorry it seems shocking to some and it's only because I put it off for too long.  In the end, I know in general that I don't get to "keep" all my students all the time, but I hope that it the value of a good music education can be seen in a broader sense.  I don't just teach the mechanics, I teach the passion and hopefully inspiration of music and all it offers.  

Well, gotta run and go take a music lesson....BTW, I'm playing more for this one than I'm charging at my new rates....and I'm happy to do it.

 

Love to all who bother reading this.

Rene'

A good problem to have

TOO BUSY, BUT I LOVE WHAT I DO!

Stolen Drum recovered!

OK, so who remembers back in Feb. 2011 a couple of Marching Snares belonging to Rex Putnam's drum line that I direct getting stolen from my car?  Remember how angry I was and how I got on KGW news and they did a fantastic story?  Also remember how the community came together and donated over $3,000 in funds so we could get new snare drums?  Well.  Shortly after the theft, I stalked Craig's list and located a snare drum at A-1 Pawn in Gresham.  The police retrieved it.  Good job Rene'.  And yes, I WILL pat myself on the back for that because I was the one checking all the time (probably OCD-like).  

 

Well, last week I checked Craig's List again for the second drum and "BOOM".  There it was, with a nice picture displaying the serial number and everything.  So I called the owner, feigned naive female drummer stereo-type and got the serial number, name, address and everything of where the drum was.  Guy said a friend gave it to him for helping him move.  He was asking $200.  These drums are unique.  To replace, for snare, harness, and case it is $400 new.  No small chunk of change in a climate that is cutting music funding at schools not adding or supporting (another bog topic for later!).  So after almost arguing with the Portland Police, who by the way insisted I meet them in Portland, not Milwaukie, I finally got him to ask his supervisor to go get the damn drum.  I was surprised by how grumpy this particular officer was.  But he did go get it, and to my surprise, he called me about 30 minutes later and asked me to go back to our coffee shop location in Portland so he could get me the drum.  

Justice was served!  I thanked the officer profusely (by the way, my coffee shop friends were a little surprised by how unwilling and surly this particular officer was).  I have nothing but high respect for our law enforcement, but he was obviously having a bad day or needed more friends or whatever.....

Come to find out the guy's friend who gave the drum to him (the Craig's list person didn't know it was stolen...he says) said his friend was in JAIL FOR ID THEFT AND FRAUD.  Yes!  Crime doesn't pay and tenacious people like me will hunt you down.  

So I shamelessly congratulate myself for tirelessly checking Craig's List for over a year to get stolen drums back for my kids.  When it hurts kids, I definitely made the damn lemonade.  You kinda have to do that these days.  Don't give up.  As a musician, if I gave up every time someone said I sucked or wasn't good enough or whatever, I would never be where I am now.  By the way, I still strive to get better, because there is always someone better than you.

In closing, don't ever ever steal from me.  I never tire to see things put right and that goes for many levels and many meanings.

Have a great day and stay in school kids!

Rene'

Falling into the Musical World

BRING ON THE MUSICALS!  A COMPLETE 180!!!

Being busy, being thankful for being busy

Just a few words about being busy.  I am right now, about to be very busy and am very thankful for it! 

The generosity of drummers and karma

LET ME JUST SAY PERCUSSIONIST GENEROSITY IS BIG....VERY BIG.  And, yes, I am specifically pointing out drummers because I have also noticed that over the years, drummers have huge hearts and tend to pay it forward.

Hello Oregon! and beyond.....

Renés new website and new studio!  

May 2018 UPDATE

 

  • René receives award from www.Artemisarts.org!  Read her blogs on women in the arts.
  • www.kingsmenthunderdrumline.com  click on GoFundMe  www.gofundme.com/kingsmenthunder for Rex Putnam High School Drum Line's Winter Indoor Season Wish List.
  • Book Rene' on piano for your wedding/reception/cocktail event!
  • René's band HERE COMES EVERYBODY. New Video posted.

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