Read the Episode with Beth Duhon - The Commute


Welcome to Episode 85, which is another chat with Beth Duhon, we’re going to talk about the commute. As Beth quoted in this episode, if you can’t get out of it, get into it, which is a Patricia Ryan Madson quote – I think it’s so great. If you have to do it, you might as well just enjoy it.

So if you can’t get out of it, get into it, I like it. It’s something that many of us have to do, is get to work and back. For some of us, it’s longer than others. When I have had a job that one day a week I worked at the Conservatorium, at the Young Con, and it was a train ride, it was amazing, I got so much done on the train.

Now, obviously, if you’re in a car, you can’t be doing lesson planning, and writing notes to yourself and that sort of thing. But there’s still quite a bit that you can do. If you’re driving, even more if you’re on public transport. I do also love how in this episode, Beth talks about the special tambours of the music classroom. And sometimes we need a little break from those special tambours. So just a few other little bits of advice you might consider. I work with Deb on my way to school, and sometimes on the way home. And it’s a really productive time.

Sometimes you can make some phone calls, if your car and phone enable it, or just use earbuds, it’s great. You could listen to a podcast. It’s where I do a lot of learning. I love my podcasts. That’s why I started one. Listen to audiobooks. Sometimes just be silent, be present, be grateful, be appreciative, observe your surroundings that is so valuable.

Just take that quiet time, on your way home you could reflect on what went well during the day, get yourself into that positive frame of mind. And you could ready yourself for the next phase, whatever you’re going into, whether you’re going home to make dinner for children, whether you’re racing in to get ready to race back out and go to a concert, whatever you are doing, you could use your commute to ready yourself for the next phase.

But let’s pop in and have a chat with Beth about making the most of your commute.

This podcast is being recorded on the lands of the Turrbal people. I acknowledge them as the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to elder’s past, present and emerging. They were the first music makers on this land.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 085 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.

Welcome again to Beth Duhon on this episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast where we’re talking about her book, Happier Music Teacher. We’re going to talk about the second section around the commute. And now I think this section is particularly pertinent to, I know to me, I have quite a big commute. And I think it’s a powerful time.

Beth Duhon
Yes, yes, yes.

So what’s your take Beth?

The Importance of Separation Between Work & Home

Beth Duhon
If you can’t get out of it, get into it is what Gretchen Rubin says. And I really believe it. Now I have a friend she actually lives right around the corner from her work. So she doesn’t have a commute. I suggest that she actually adds one in by taking just a couple walks around the block. So she doesn’t go immediately from work and get slammed into home life.

Good advice. I have a friend who has a very close walk as well. So I might suggest that great idea.

Beth Duhon
Just a little way to make a differentiation between work and home. But for the rest of us depend on your commute. And you know, it can be I have had as much as around 40 minutes. I’ve also had as little as 20 minutes. But even so that adds up when you’re in the car every day.

Yes, I have about half an hour at the moment, I have had up to 50 minutes and that used to just frustrate me a lot because I would view it as wasted time. It’s certainly not for me now. I’ll get on to what I do on my commute soon. But I’d love to hear what’s your advice about getting the most out of your commute.

Beth Duhon
So everything I do is a little bit strange but we’re music teachers so we get a pass, it’s fine. Right? One of the things I do is commute to work in silence. And that is so restorative to me. I’m not even tempted anymore to turn on a podcast or turn on the radio in the morning. So that is my prayer time. That can be my mental visualisation time, where I’m really visualising my day and thinking through it in a positive way, not woowoo but just looking through it thinking about any roadblocks that might come up, kind of just trying to anticipate the problems before they start and think positively.

Our ears get really full as music teachers and we have all these tambours that are very special in elementary music like glockenspiels and recorders, and young children’s voices all day. And so your ears just get the sensation of being full. But I don’t think you have to add to all the ruckus when you’re on your way to work, especially because the way my work life is shaped out, I never have my son with me in the morning.

So it really is me by myself, a carpool has never really been much of a solid option for me. So being by myself and the quiet feels like a mini vacation to be honest.

Yes, that whitespace?

Beth Duhon
Yes, yes, yes.

Yes. So it delineates those two sections of your life but it gives you that time, I liked that idea of that visualisation, it’s changing your mindset, isn’t it?

Beth Duhon
Yes it sure is. Yeah, I used to joke with a custodian because I’d come out all relaxed and centered from my drive and breathe and I’d have silence and ah, and then boom, I hit the cafeteria. And it had 50 children in it in the lunch line, loud and my heart pressure would just go way up.

But I think control what you can control. And that’s part of our time that we are not victims. And you don’t just have to go on autopilot and turn on the radio because it’s there. You really can have some peace on your commute.

Yes, I do love that. I like silence if I’m not working, because I do tend to see it as work time for me. And I have big conversations with my colleague, Deb, we get lots of work done on our outside projects and our school projects. She’s a fellow music teacher, so we will compose emails that we have to send, and she will type because she’s the one with the short commute, she will type and we’ll work things out together.

And it’s also my time to podcast, but it might be a business podcast, you know, to help with Crescendo, or a music education podcast, I’ve started listening to you, you know, and it’s feels like a friend is chatting to me. So that helps me in my commute. But it is really valuable time. But one thing I do not like, and people are very shocked at this.

I do not listen to music and I do not just listen to the radio. I just can’t stand the ads and the songs that come on I don’t necessarily want to listen to. And I think it’s like you said what was the word you said special tambours of the music classroom? I don’t want to listen to more music. Sometimes it’s a little sad. I very rarely even put music on in the house. I just need silence.

Beth Duhon
I’m beginning to think that is more and more common for music teachers than we think as I talk with others. Now, there are times it can be a joy, and depend on the right context. But sometimes just like the background noise, the music that you don’t choose, you know, for some reason, it just doesn’t fill us with joy.

No. Yes, I think you’re right. I think that is more common than we think. So that’s good. I’m looking forward to reading that chapter and the breathing and the reset. Like a reset isn’t it?

Beth Duhon
Well think of it like your own oasis. So the five senses I mean, I’m in control of the sound now in the afternoon I’m not a total weirdo. I will slip something on normally, like you said, a podcast or music that I choose listen to or something but some lotion that smells good, a snack that nourishes me, you know, I tried to keep the car fairly tidy and not stinky.

All those type of things. Because when I get in, I just want it to feel relaxing. And like a hug and not like another stressor.

I love that. I love that, it is it is like your own little private space isn’t it. Yeah there is something nice about getting in that car and closing the door. I love it. I love it.

Beth Duhon
Especially during the pandemic, because you wore a mask all the time. So take off the mask, shut the door and take a deep breath and be in control of the environment.

So nice. We were fairly lucky here. We didn’t have to wear masks for very long at all. So yes, very fortunate where we live in respect to the pandemic. But yes, that would add another layer. Absolutely. Beth, it was great chatting with you. Let’s continue this talk in the next episode, bye.


I appreciate you and all of my colleagues, and hope this episode has been enjoyable and useful. Don’t forget you’ll find the show notes on I’d love to share rate or review to help other music educators find this podcast. All I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. Until next time, bye.

Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieves stress, don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

How do you put a baby astronaut to sleep?

Well of course you rocket.

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

📕 Happier Music Teacher by Beth Duhon

🎙️ Ep 83: Introduction to The Wellbeing Series with Beth Duhon

🎙️ Ep 84: The Wellbeing Series: Rest and Recharge

Where to find me:

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