Snow days. Most music teachers in four-season weather regions have them. When your phone dings with a text, email, or call alerting you to your day off of school early in the morning, there can be mixed reactions. Some may not think it was warranted, some may relish a day of “me time,” and some may already be getting ready for school when they receive the message (that is just the worst!).
No matter what type of snow day person you are, here are ten suggestions for how to make the most of snow days, both professionally and personally.
1. Go back to sleep!
Now, there is something to be said for keeping with your routine, not throwing off the body’s natural rhythms, etc., but pushing the alarm back an extra 30-60 minutes can be just the thing to improve your mood, increase energy, and even help fight off germs from those winter bugs that are always being spread around.
However, you don’t want to get too carried away with this. Sleeping too late can make it difficult to get back into your routine the next day, and there’s nothing worse than waking up the morning AFTER a snow day.
Along with getting enough sleep, exercise has many benefits. It can be very tempting on snow days to sit on the couch and binge-watch your favorite show, but the body of a music educator is used to being on the move 40+ hours a week. Try some creative ways to exercise at home if tricky travel eliminates the gym as an option and you don’t have equipment at home. Shoveling snow can be a tough workout and is something that’s often necessary for many people during snow days. But if that’s not an option or you’d just rather stay inside, try integrating exercise into other activities. One of my go-to's is workouts during commercial breaks, like this one.
3. Create Challenges for Students
As the wintry season approaches, introduce this concept to students. Use social media on snow days to encourage them to participate. This works especially well for long stretches of days off school. Introduce some kind of “snow day challenges” that encourage students to keep their minds and bodies active, and still in the school mindset! These can be tailored to music, or just general activities. Examples could be making a playlist of a specific composer or winter-themed music, changing the lyrics of a popular song to winter themes, or whatever else you can think of! Have them submit it digitally, and the best ones can win prizes!
4. Plan Out Lessons and Concerts for the Year
A snow day is a gift in that it gives you plenty of time to prepare for the next things coming up in the school year. Use the time to set goals for your ensembles and plan out what they should accomplish and when. Take a step back from the day-to-day planning and focus on where they are now, as well as where you’d like them to be by the end of the month, by the next concert, by the end of the year. You might even start brainstorming for the direction you want to take your program next year (especially marching band shows and show choir sets).
5. Try (or Invent) New Recipes
If you like to cook or have seen the TV show “Chopped,” you’ll know where this idea came from. The fridge and pantry are like the mystery baskets of ingredients on Chopped. There is only what’s on hand (no quick runs to the grocery store) and you need to make something to feed yourself and anybody else in the house with you. There are bananas, meatballs, barbecue sauce, and some leftover fried rice. Can you create something good out of that, or will you just grab the Hot Pockets out of the freezer? If you aren’t culinarily-inclined, just try adding something different to hot chocolate or coffee like caramel syrup, cinnamon, or my personal favorite, peppermint Schnapps.
6. Snow Day Book Club
Create a snow day book club with colleagues in your school or in your district. Pick a book to read, and for each snow day that is called, tackle a chapter or two. Discuss each section online through a Google Doc, video chat, FlipGrid, text message, or however works for your group to share your thoughts with each other. The books you choose to read can be targeted towards professional development or ongoing learning, or can just be for fun!
7. Log Professional Development Hours
If your district is one that has you log professional development hours to make up snow days, this is a great way to chip off a couple hours for each day. Keep the learning going at home! Encore Tours provides graduate level credits for music directors who travel with them – learn more on the Encore Tours website or contact Encore Tours for more information.
8. Watch Some Great Music-Related Shows, Movies & Documentaries
Heres a list that is by no means definitive, but has a variety to suit every taste!
Musicals on Netflix: West Side Story, The Last Five Years, Jersey Bous, Mamma Mia
Musicals on Hulu: Jesus Christ Superstar Live, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Plus, Netflix has tons of great documentaries and performances from big names in the music industry, including: Barbara Streisand, David Bowie, Glen Campbell, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Steven Tyler, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, & Hans Zimmer
9. Practice Your Main or Secondary Instrument
You spend all day, every day working with students to help them become better musicians. When is the last time you invested that same work in yourself? Spend part of your snow day practicing your main instrument or brushing up your technique on a secondary instrument!
10. Research Your Next Performance Tour and Contact Encore for a Quote!
Snow days give you time to plan the performance tour you’ve always wanted to take your ensemble on. Browse Encore Tours’ online library of Destinations, Venues, and Sample Itineraries to see what best fits the needs of your ensemble and discover where you’d like to go! Need help deciding? Take Encore Tours’ “Which Destination is Perfect for You & Your Ensemble?” quiz for practical advice based on your ensemble type, group size, and budget. Contact Encore Tours or get a quote to start making the performance tour of your dreams a reality!
Even though snow days can throw a wrench in your well-laid plans, they can be a useful break from your everyday routine. Whether it’s practical work – like developing your strategic plan for the year or researching a performance tour – or taking time to relax by cooking good food or doing crunches during commercial breaks, take advantage of your snow day!