AUTHOR: Marty, a.k.a. canape TITLE: It's up to me and only me DATE: 9/29/2009 10:36:00 AM ----- BODY:
One thing that was so refreshing to discover at the Type A Mom Conference this past weekend, is that I'm not completely insane. It's always nice to discover that, I think.

What I mean is, that for awhile now, I've been pondering why it is that people can't just do their best, rise above, and quit telling everyone else how to do things. In the blogosphere, that is.

Let me give you an example. I'm a piano teacher. Well, when I'm working, I'm a piano teacher. I teach out of my home. So does another woman in my neighborhood. I teach on a 6'4" Mason & Hamlin grand piano, use the latest notation and ear training software on a large flat screen HP computer, and am a member of all of the professional organizations. I hold a Bachelor of Music in music composition, perform and record regularly, and my students kick ass in competitions, if I do say so myself.

The other teacher in my neighborhood teaches on a spinet, has no degree, doesn't enter competitions, and simply decided that since she could play the piano a little, that it would be a good way to make money from home. Teaching lessons, that is.

Needless to say, the other teacher charges less than me. She gets more students coming in her door because she is cheaper and just as convenient as I am. She is patient and kind, and never tells the parents that their children need to invest more time in their lessons at home.

If I applied what I keep hearing from other bloggers to this situation, then I should have a sit down with this other teacher and talk to her about how she is bringing down my profession. I should ask her to join our organizations, charge more, and be a better teacher. I should call her up and let her know that she is cheapening what I do, and belittling piano teachers everywhere.

And actually? I know a couple of teachers in town that have done just that. They got nowhere with it, and people generally don't like them.

Here's the way I see it.

That woman calls herself the same thing I do: a piano teacher. However, calling herself one doesn't make her one. Sure, I "miss out" on a number of students whose families aren't willing to pay what I charge. I happen to look at it as though she is weeding out the people who aren't worth me spending time away from my children. The people who aren't serious about their child's music education and are just looking for another after school activity.

It is up to me to continue proving why I'm better and worth more money. It is my responsibility to live ethically and be the kind of teacher that people seek out and don't just stumble upon. My success or worth has nothing to do with the other people who are in my same profession - it has to do only with how well I do what I do. The other teacher has nothing to do with who I am.

There is room for everyone. Back to blogging, there is room for good writers, bad writers, reviewers, monetizers, writers who get paid, writers who don't. The internet isn't going to run out of room, and if you are true to yourself - authentic - then you will be successful.

What you need to feel validated and successful is unique to you. While one woman may be excited to be paid in cupcakes, another one may demand $300 for a post. It doesn't mean that the woman demanding $300 for a post won't get it. It's not like the same company that would be looking at her in the first place would then go and consider all of us cupcake writers out there.

I'm validated by the relationships created through this space. Cupcakes are nice too, but mainly, I just really like having a place to write and an outlet that leads me to other women writers as well.

I think Mommy Niri said it quite well, "Blog and let blog," or as I like to say, "It's alright with me if you suck," which was going to be my title until I realized that some people might not find that funny. Except Abby.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Gina @ MoneywiseMoms DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 11:27:00 AM EDT Great points, Marty! I felt like I got a lot of the same message at the conference (and I, too, was thrilled to see that I'm not insane for thinking everyone can do it their own way so leave it alone). I think it developed over the days we were there, that we started Thurs night all looking for rules and patterns and how DOES one connect with PR/Marketing/Brands and then some of us coming to learn more over the weekend about why we might not want any of that at all.

Your piano teacher analogy is perfect, and it's applied to all sorts of businesses in every genre (restaurants, shoe stores, etc.). Even grocery stores are high-end, middle, low-end, looking for different consumers. You are meeting your parents/students' needs and so is the other teacher. There's nothing wrong with that. What I think happens with blogging is that newbie bloggers are trying to get the benefits of the other league without wanting to put in the work/effort/time. If that other piano teacher complains because her business isn't bringing her enough money, then she needs to step it up (as you have).

I really enjoyed meeting you, and thanks (again!) for setting up Rock Band/Guitar Hero. Great idea! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Tiffany @ Lattes And Life DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 11:31:00 AM EDT *standing ovation*
LOVE love LOVE this analogy. Spot on!!! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Stimey DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 1:44:00 PM EDT I'm part of that standing ovation. Love this post. Blog and let blog. Excellent. I'm off to read that post now.

GREAT post! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous pastormargaret DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 2:28:00 PM EDT I echo your comments about the other "piano teacher." In fact, you may have heard them from my mouth at some time or other. I should put my thoughts together on those who are called "pastor" without the call and/or ordination. But, we are who we are, not because of what we do. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Susie DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 2:52:00 PM EDT I'm totally baking you some cupcakes :) Thank you for this because I have really been contemplating what to do with my blog. So I find your words quite encouraging to keep going - to do it for me. Thanks. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Elizabeth DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 3:40:00 PM EDT Hi Marty,

I couldn't find any contact information on your blog and I wanted to reach out to you about a program Mom Central is running with Feld Entertainment.

We are looking to find Moms who are interested in helping us spread the word to their readers, community members, family, and friends about Disney on Ice and the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. If selected, you will serve as “activators” in your community, sparking excitement around the shows and meeting with Moms in your area. You will receive some great coupon codes for members of your community and complimentary tickets for your family to see the show on opening night! We are currently looking for activators in the Charlotte area. Please email me, Echapin@momcentral.com, if you are interested in learning more about this program. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,
Elizabeth ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Convertible Girl DATE:Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 5:15:00 PM EDT I love you and your blog. Probably haven't told you that yet, but this post reminded me that I do.

Mwah! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bubblewench DATE:Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:29:00 AM EDT Great post! Love the analogy.. how that can apply to so many things. Wow. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous JHSMom DATE:Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 6:02:00 PM EDT I've been lurking here for several years, pre Bird, I've enjoyed hearing your story.

I would like to offer some input as the parent of a musician. I am a Euphonium player, and both of my sons play trumpet. My youngest, now 16 started on recorder in music class in 4th grade. He excelled at it, started trumpet in 5th grade and I immediately put him in lessons with a college trumpet performance major. Thankfully I know a lot about brass instruments, have some talent as a musician myself, so I am a more knowledgable parent than most band/music parents.

The trumpet teacher was amazed at his talent and natural ability, I knew when he outgrew her and sought a new teacher who could continue his at a higher level. I continue to help nurture him in his growth as a musician, by actively seeking the BEST teachers out there, regardless of the cost. I am willing to invest the money to get him the music and instruments he needs. He is now in 11th grade and looking forward to college auditions and dreams of being a performance major.

I agree with what you said, she is helping weed out those kids who probably won't put in the effort and allows you to concentrate your efforts on kids with promise who have a willingness to work hard, and have the support of parents who won't settle for anything but the best.

I know that parents like me appreciate the expertise you bring to your students, and are willing to pay more than the "average" teacher rate to get the quality training for our kids.

I need a teacher for him that will challenge him, teach him the special technique he needs to succeed in college, and inspires him to grow and succeed, that is priceless. You may have fewer students, but as you said, your kids kill at competitions! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous @sweetbabboo DATE:Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:44:00 PM EDT I don't have much to add after our whole chat about this at the hotel. However, I will echo Cyndi and say I love you and love you even more since our weekend away. I absolutely CANNOT wait to go again next year and have ALL the Triangle Mamas in attendance. It would be something. Don't worry about lil' C, I'll hold him. ;)

-Abby ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Mommy Cracked DATE:Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 8:23:00 PM EDT If I could give you $300 and a cupcake right now, I would. This is gold. I think this should be required reading for any blogger. You have articulated well the things I have been feeling and I commend you all the more for publishing it. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Mommy Niri DATE:Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 5:42:00 PM EDT Thanks for the shout out! I truly believe in the power of the the people rather than everyone trying to confine all into little compartments (just so that they can deal with it and also be in charge of it).

I am thrilled we got to meet too!

Niri ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Jennifer Fink DATE:Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:05:00 PM EDT Excellent points that apply to the writing profession as well. I'm heading over to my writing site to share this right now. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous BIKE LADY DATE:Friday, October 9, 2009 at 2:44:00 AM EDT Jennifer, you did share the link with our writer's group, and I'm glad I came to read it. It's a good post that makes a point different from what I've always believed. I can't say I agree with Marty 100 percent, but I can say that I see a different perspective now that I wouldn't have otherwise. And that I also like the phrase, "Blog and let blog." ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous ruth pennebaker DATE:Friday, October 9, 2009 at 11:22:00 AM EDT What a great post! You put it so eloquently and simply -- what I'd been thinking, but hadn't articulated. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Marijke Durning DATE:Friday, October 9, 2009 at 8:10:00 PM EDT Love this post. This is the best way I've ever heard it put.
Thank you. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey DATE:Friday, October 9, 2009 at 10:19:00 PM EDT I love what you said about authenticity. It's the basis of how I create. I love this place so much more than being fearful there isn't enough. Your post says it all. And so awesomely that I'm bookmarking it :)

I want to thank Jennifer, whom I see posted a comment above, for sharing the link - she's how I found it! ----- --------