Breve Notes #2 | Coping with Stress

Submitted by Paul Worosello |  President: Phi Beta Mu International | September 2014

Paul WoroselloIn some parts of the country school has already started up. Everywhere else directors are putting the final touches and organization toward the start of a new year. The excitement and possibilities are such a positive rush.

The last time you felt that anticipation was probably in June, eagerly awaiting the approach of summer. Summer: only thinking about band some of the time, spending quality time with family, needed rest, only thinking about band some of the time, recharging batteries, only thinking about band some of the time, vacations, slowing down and really appreciating the life and “job” that allows us to have such a significant impact on our students.

As each year passes, I believe in coincidence less and less. Two early experiences had a profound influence on how I approached teaching. Early in my career, late June, I was talking with an experienced director who was reminiscing about his career to that point. He was at the top of the food chain with respect to having a successful career. He stated that if he could do it all over again, the only thing he would change would be to spend more time with his family, being there as his kids grew up. I thought that was great advice, and filed it away.

Just two weeks later, in July, my wife and I were at the house of a mentor who has had such a profound influence on my life. We were just talking about how things were going, and out of the blue he made the statement, “If I could go back and change one thing, it would be to spend more time with my sons as they were growing up.”  A chill literally went through me. I looked up and thought, “You didn’t have to repeat it. I heard you the first time.”

Stress, unfortunately, is a part of our job description. How we deal with stress impacts the quality of our life, everything we do. We all know those people where stress seems to dominate their waking hours. Most are good teachers, some are amazingly gifted. We all know people whose careers were shortened because the ineffective way they dealt with stress created other issues in their lives.

There is nothing more important than family. Does that mean that family takes precedence all the time? Absolutely no! There have to be priorities, as with everything we do. Keeping the light shining on your loved ones helps to manage stress, because it keeps the focus on what is truly important. At the time, that frustrating student, indifferent administrator, or irate parent seems to overwhelm your life. In the overall scheme of things, those singular events pale in comparison to the music you teach and the lives you touch.

My father advised me to select a career that I had a passion for. That way I would never “work” a day in my life.  Every day I cannot wait to teach music, hopefully inspire people to develop the confidence to do more than they ever thought possible. Don’t let stress derail you from doing the things you have such a passion for. Don’t let stress cheapen the gift you have to offer. Keep your eyes focused on those things that truly matter. It really will help you get through the tough times that we all experience.

Here is to the start of the best year yet.

Paul J. Worosello
| Phi Beta Mu International