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TheWorkLifeBalanceofMusicEducatorsintheShenandoahValley:A
CaseStudy
SarahWilson

Introduction
TeachersacrosstheUnitedStatesexpressconcernabouttheirworklifebalanceandmusic
teachersarenoexceptiontothisconcern.Thepressuresofteachingandadultlifecanbe
inhibitivetoeachotherandmayevenleadtojobrelatedburnout(Shaw,2014).Somepeople
agreethatworklifebalanceisdisproportionatetowomenindifferentways;although,itis
definitivelyagreedthatthisbalanceisvariedduetopersonalvaluesandpersonalitytraits(Shaw,
2014).Thisstudyhopestoprovideinformationtoeducationalinstitutionsabouthowthework
lifebalanceofteachers,inthisparticularcasemusicteachers,isvitaltothesuccessofthe
studentsandtheteachersand,therefore,theinstitution.
MitchellRobinsonfoundthatmanynovicemusicteachersentertheworkforcewith
preconceivednotionsabouthowtheirworklifebalancewillbeaccordingtowhatlevelistaught
(2010).Manystudentsassumedthattheirpersonallifeandprofessionallifewouldbedifficultto
balancethehigherthegradetaught;therefore,thehighschoollevelrankedthehighestin
perceiveddifficultyofbalancingworkandlife,duetomanyrequiredactivitiestakingplace
outsideoftheschoolday(Robinson,2010;Fitzpatrick,2013).Inaddition,manyfemalesbelieve
thattheirexperiencesdifferfromtheirmalecolleagues.Thisdemonstratesthetraditionalgender
rolesthatgenerallyplacetheburdenofhomeresponsibilities,includingparenting,onthemother
(Fitzpatrick,2013).

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Inmypositionasresearcher,Iknewalltheparticipantsasfriends,colleagues,andpeers;
someIwenttoschoolwithformyundergraduatedegree,someImetthroughtheprofession,and
allofuswereinthesamegraduateclassesoverthetimeperiodoftwosummers.Theinterviews
gavemeanewpointofviewbecause,whilewewereacquaintances,wenevertalkedaboutan
issuesuchasworklifebalanceinsuchdepth.
Thepurposeofthisstudywastoanswerthefollowingquestions:(1)Howdomusic
teachersviewtheirworklifebalance?(2)Whatfactorscontributetoapossibledisproportionate
worklifebalance?Withinthesetwoquestions,thereisonesubquestion:(1)Howdoes
marriageandparenthoodchangeapersonsworklifebalance?ThestudyusesCreswells
methodsforinterviewdatacollection(2007).

Method
Participants
ParticipantsincludedfivemusiceducationgraduatestudentsatalargeMidAtlanticuniversity.
Fourofthestudentsweresummeronlygraduatestudentsinmusiceducationandonewasafull
timegraduatestudentinmusiceducationattheinstitution.Allstudentswereenrolledina
ResearchinMusicEducationclass,designedtoteachspecificresearchdefinitionsandstrategies
inquantitativeandqualitativestudies.Thesamplewasaconveniencesampleamongthe
studentsintheclass.
Thereweretwomalesandthreefemales;oneelementaryschoolmusicteacher,two
middleschoolbanddirectors,onehighschoolbanddirector,andonefulltimestudentwitha

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pastteachingcareerinhighschool.Severaloftheparticipantshaveotherdutiesattheirschools
suchaschoir,drama,ortechnology.

DesignandProcedure
Thisstudyusedsemistructuredinterviewsconductedbymultipleresearchers,whichallowedfor
anaturalconversationalapproachwhilestillgettinganswersthatwerewanted.Eachinterview
tookplaceinthemusicbuildingonthecampusoftheinstitution.Theinterviewerasked
questionstotheintervieweeandrecordedthequestionsandanswersusingiPhoneoriPadvoice
recordingsoftware.Theinterviewsweretranscribed,mergedintoonedocument,andshared
amongtheresearchers.Onceshared,theresearchersindividuallycodedeachinterviewforthe
contextofthisstudy.
Themainquestionsaskedineachinterviewincluded:1)Howhasyourworklife
balancechangedfromyourfirstyeartopresent?2)Tellmeaboutanexperiencethat
significantlyaffectedhowyouapproachyourworklifebalance.Explain.3)Howdoesyour
schoolsupport,ornotsupport,yourworklifebalance?

DataAnalysis
Aftertheinterviewsweretranscribed,merged,andshared,Icodedeachinterview.Aftertwo
roundsofcoding,onethemewasprevalentthroughout:relationships.Withintheserelationships,
theonesthatweremostfrequentweremarriage,spouse,mother,father,significant
others,andfriends.

Results

Marriage/SignificantOthers
Forthreeofthefiveparticipants,marriagewasamaintopicrelatingtotheirworklifebalance.
Twostatedthatitwasnotuncommonforthemtobeatschoollateatnightortomakeplansaway
fromhomebecausetheyhadnoobligationtocomehome.Brad(allnamesarepseudonyms)
stated:
[I]twasnothingformetobeattheschooluntilsixorseven
oclock,andtheschoolletsoutat3:40[Aftermarriage]there
wasnowaythatIwasgoingtowillfullyspendthreeorfourhours
extraatschoolintheafternoonintotheeveningwhenIhadmy
wifetogohometo.
Oneparticipantinparticular,Roger,notedthatitwasnothingforhimtodecidetodothingslast
minutebeforehegotmarriedandtherewasnoproblemwiththat:
ItusedtobelikeifsomethingcameupandIhadtogosomewhere
foraweekend,Ijustwent!ItslikeOh,VMEAisthisweekend?
Okay!andIwouldjustgo.Orthehighschooljazzbandhasa
competitionthisweekend?Okay!AndIlljustgo.Butnow,I
cant.
ForJulia,thebiggestchangeinherworklifebalancewasherdivorce.Shehastwokidssoshe
feltgoingfromatwoparenthometoasingleparenthomewasthehardestpartforher.She
notedthathavingherparentsaroundwasveryhelpful:
[G]oingfromatwoparenthome,evenwhenitwasntthebest
parenting,todoingitonyourownwasahugeupheaval[I]twas

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justahugejugglingactoftryingtomakeeverythingwork
Luckily,Iwasfortunateenoughtohavemyparentsalwaysclose
bysotheyalsohelpedbalancethefamilylifewiththekids.
Twooftheparticipantswerenotmarriedbutarticulatedthattheirsignificantotherswere
supportive.Carolinementionedthatmovingawayfromherboyfriendforherfirstteachingjob
wasdifficultforher.Shenoted,Ithrewmind,heart,soul,andbodyintomyworkat[the
school]anditwasconstant,constantworkallthetimeandIdidntreallyhaveasociallife.
Carolinewentontosaythatduringhersecondyearasabanddirector,hersociallifedid
improveandshefeltthatshehadabettergrasponherworklifebalance.

Friendships
Thethreewomenspokeinparticularabouthowfriendships,havingthemornot,affectedtheir
senseofworklifebalance.Itisclearthattheyeachfeltthathavingpeopletoleanonandtalkto
wasimportantinkeepingthemgrounded,especiallyintimesofchange.ForJulia,shefelther
friendbasegotherthroughhersimultaneousdivorceandjobchange:
WhenIwenttotheelementaryposition,Ifoundagroupoffive
women,fiveincludingmyself,thatIthinktookcareofevery
mentalissuesIpossiblycouldhavehad.Theyweresuper
wonderful:supportive,social,whatevertheycoulddo,theywere
amazing.IdontknowwhatIwouldhavedonewithoutthem.

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Heathernotedthathersecondjobincludedmorepeoplethatwereherage,whichmadeiteasier
forhertorelateandfindafriendbaseandcommunity.Shealsofeltthathavingfriendsmadeher
abetterteacherinafewways:
[H]avingmoretolookforwardtothanjustbackandforthtowork
mademeabetterteacher,mademeabetterpersonformy
studentsIamaverysocialcreatureandnothavingsocial
interactionwasreallyhurtingmeasapersonandwasnoallowing
metogive100%tomystudentsbecauseIwasntme,Iwasnt
100%myself.
Carolinefeltthatwhenshemovedtoherfirstjob,shedidnthavetimetomakefriendsather
schoolduetoherschooldutiesandtheisolationofthebandroomfromtherestoftheschool.
Shealsonoticedthatshewasunhappybecauseshewouldseeherfriendsthatstayedinthesame
placehangingoutandshedidnthaveanypastworkfriendswhereshewasteaching.Thistook
atollonhermental,social,andemotionalhealth,which,inturn,causedhertochangethingsher
secondyear.Sheconsciouslymademoretimeforasociallifeafterherfirstyearofteaching.

Parenthood
Rogerfeltthathavingkidswasthebiggestchangeinhisworklifebalance,moresothan
marriage.Beforehavingchildren,heandhiswifehadeveningtimewheretheyhadnothingto
dobutbewitheachotherortimetakeforthemselves:
Upuntilwehadourfirstsonwegofrom5[pm]untilmaybe
11[pm]whenwegotobedsothereareyoucanseehow

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structuredIamwehadsixhourswhereneitherofushaveany
responsibilitytowardseachotherNow,webothgethomeabout
5:30,wegotobedat8:30wehavetostartgettingtobed,getting
theboystobedispartofourgettingtobedritual,sowewentfrom
5to11,nowwereat5to8:30.
Healsofeltthatnow,withtwochildren,itishardtotakeanhourtohimselfathomebecausehis
wifealsodeservesthat.Thiscausedhimtothinkaboutwhattimetohimselfmeantsohenow
usestimedrivinginthecarorpartofhisplanningtobeintrospective.
Juliaalsomentionedparenthoodasamajorchangeinherlifeandamajoreffectonher
worklifebalance:
Onceyoubecomeamother,ifyoubecomeamother,thatsalso
veryinterestingtotrytobalanceyourtimewithotherpeopleskids
andyourtimewithyourownsoyoutrytomakethings,um
whenyourealonewithyourownchildrentomakeitreallycount
asmuchaspossible.
ForJulia,herchildrenareolder.Shementionsthatnowthattheyareinthesameschoolasher,
itiseasierforhertoseethemanditmakesthingseasier.Butbeforethat,shestruggledwith
potentiallyspendingmoretimewithotherskidsmorethanherown.Thisisarealissuefor
manywomen,asnotedinastudydonebyFitzpatrick(2013).Manywomeninthefieldofmusic
educationfeelguiltregardingtheirpassionforboththeirjobsandtheirhomelife.

Implications

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Thefiveparticipantsshedlightonhowdifferentaspectsofworklifebalanceaffectthelivesof
musiceducators.Eachparticipantmentionedasignificantotherinsomewayasbeing
supportiveoranessentialparttotheirworklifebalance.Somesaidthataftertheirmarriagethey
spentmoretimeathome;theirmarriagemadethemreconsiderwhattheythoughtbalancewas
intheirworkandlife.Oneparticipantmentionedthathavingasupportivesignificantotherhas
beenahugepartofhersuccess,whileanothermentionedthathavingasignificantothernot
aroundwasinhibitingbecausetheydidnothavesomeonephysicallythere.
Anotheraspectimportantinthisstudyisfriendships.Theparticipantsmadeitclearthat
eachdesiredasociallifeofsomesort.Onementionednothavingherfriendsaroundmadeit
harder,whileanothersaidthatherfriendsmadeherabetterteacherbecauseshecouldbeher
socialself.
Asmanyresearchershaveagreed,parenthood,especiallymotherhood,candistresswork
lifebalance(Fitzpatrick,2013;Shaw,2014.Thiscasestudysuggeststhatparenthoodingeneral,
notonlymotherhood,inhibitsabalancebetweenworkandlife.
Whilethiscasestudyissignificantinunderstandinghowmusicteachersseetheirwork
lifebalance,itisimportanttonotethatthiswasasmallsamplesizeofconvenienceofpeople
fromthesamearea.Thisdoesnotdiscreditthestudyorthesuggestedimplications,butitdoes
meanthatthiscaseisnotnecessarilygeneralizabletoalargerpopulation.Researchhasbeen
doneinthisareaandhelpsshedlightonhowotherpopulationsviewworklifebalance.
Whilethereisresearchinthisarea,anextstepmayincludemorestudyonthemental
healthofworklifebalance.Twoparticipantsinthisstudymentiontheirmentalhealthandthe
impactoftheirjobs.Amorecompleteviewofhowabalanceinteacherslivescanhelpus

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understandhowinstitutionscanbettertheeducationtostudentswithstepstowardshelpingtheir
teachers.

References
Creswell,J.W.(2007).QualitativeInquiry&ResearchDesign:ChoosingAmongFive
Approaches(Seconded.).London:SagePublication.
Fitzpatrick,KateR.(2013).MotherhoodandtheHighSchoolBandDirector:ACaseStudy.
BulletinoftheCouncilforResearchinMusicEducation,(196),723.
Robinson,Mitchell.(2010).FromtheBandRoomtotheGeneralMusicClassroom:Why
InstrumentalistsChoosetoTeachGeneralMusic.BulletinoftheCouncilforResearchin
MusicEducation,(185),3348.
Shaw,RyanD.(2014).TheWorkLifeBalanceofCompetitiveMarchingBandTeachers:A
MultipleCaseStudy.BulletinoftheCouncilforResearchinMusicEducation,(200),
6380.