Issue 33: Looking after number 1

I’m not a particularly fastidious kind of person, and a little bit of dirt here and there has never really bothered me. However, being a music teacher is fraught with all kinds of unforseen health hazards. For your own protection, you might like to consider the following precautions!

Having spent a hectic clarinet lesson changing and adjusting reeds, it is a very good idea to make sure that you wash your hands before going any further. I keep some hand-cleaning gel in the car for this purpose. It’s not just the clarinet reeds that are a source of bugs and worse; think about the keyboards too; when you are demonstrating something on a child’s keyboard, or helping them to get their fingers on to the right keys then you have a good chance of getting more than you bargained for. The next problem is that all that hand-cleaning gel makes my skin very dry. I have discovered that you can get anti-bacterial hand cream. Problem solved.

I was doing a bit of gardening last week, and caught my knuckle on a bamboo cane. By the evening it was a bit swollen and feeling sore, and I wondered if a splinter had gone in, near the joint.. Feeling as though I was over-reacting, I ambled round to the minor injuries clinic expecting to be lectured on “wasting NHS time”. Instead I emerged some time later, hurting much more than when I arrived, having had the puncture wound “dealt with” (let’s not go into details), a tetanus vaccination and a course of antibiotics for an infected puncture wound. Three days down the line and the knuckle is completely healed I am very relieved, as the thought of teaching djembe with sore fingers really doesn’t appeal!

There are other hazards to bear in mind; like the effect on your back muscles of lifting and sorting quantities of heavy instruments, or carrying over-loaded bags in and out of schools (do you really need All those songbooks/files/resources?).

And, if your hair is long, find a hair style that will keep it away from the children’s heads…

I have learned, and am still learning about the darker side of music teaching. Forewarned is forearmed!


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