If you were to meet Shannon Hara, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’s an early childhood music teacher: Her huge smile, engaging sing-song voice, plus a comforting, calming, knowledgeable vibe, make her a perfect fit to help kids learn flute, guitar and piano, both in private lessons and in the public school setting.
Not quite as expected? The Eastern Long Island native has also created an incredibly savvy brand both, Traveling Teacher Girl, both on her blog and on social media platforms, where she helps teachers like herself travel extremely well, all on a budget.
Now, she’s not only helping teachers through her various platforms, but she’s also showing them how to make more money through side hustles like hers. Add planning a sensational summer wedding and you’ve got a modern-day, musical Mary Poppins of sorts!
Read on to hear more about how she navigates it all and how wellness helps support her through all of her endeavors.
SBS: How did music and wellness overlap in your childhood, and how do they fit into your life now?
Shannon Hara: I’ve always been drawn to movement and fitness. As a kid I took dance lessons for 10-plus years, and I also did a little bit of gymnastics and cheerleading. As I became older, I started to shift my focus to music and then ended up going to college for music education and music performance.
For the past six years I’ve been teaching music full time at a public school, as well as teaching private flute, guitar, and piano lessons. However, one plus side to the pandemic is that due to a reduced schedule over the past year, I’ve been able to rekindle my love of movement and fitness. When the pandemic first hit, my fiance and I would do virtual swing dancing lessons every night, and I also was able to devote more time to virtual fitness and wellness classes.
SBS: Did you always want to be a teacher/music teacher?
SH: I began playing flute and guitar as a kid, and then I also started dabbling in teaching music lessons when I was in high school, which is when I decided I wanted to become a music teacher. I ended up getting an undergraduate degree in music education and then a master’s degree in flute performance.
Music is an essential part of my life, and I love to be able to share this with others. I think that having an understanding and appreciation of music greatly enriches your life and I try to build this love and appreciation of music in my students. I hope that all of my students will forever keep music as a part of their life.
SBS: How has health, wellness and movement supported your work?
SH: Health, wellness and movement are incredibly important in my life. I try to incorporate some type of fitness/movement into my daily schedule, even if it’s just going for a walk or doing a 10-minute dance video on YouTube. I also love fitness classes and try to do at least one or two virtual fitness classes per week.
Modern life is not very conducive to physical wellness (like being hunched over staring at a phone, sitting at a computer for hours every day, etc.). So I think it’s essential to devote some time into taking care of your body. This also helps with work and productivity because it helps you sleep better, increases your energy level, and overall helps you to feel and operate at your best.
SBS: Tell us all about Travelingteachergirl.com!
SH: I started my blog www.travelingteachergirl.com and my Traveling Teacher Girl social media accounts three years ago. I love to travel, and I travel during almost every school vacation.
There are generally two things that hold people back from traveling more: having the time off of work and having the money to afford it. Teachers naturally have the schedule aspect figured out, so the next step is figuring out the budget side of things.
On my blog and social media accounts, I share ways to travel on a budget, tips for building a side hustle to increase your income, free travel opportunities for teachers (there are so many!), as well as general itineraries and travel tips.
SBS: What are your top travel tips in terms of logistics and planning? What about in terms of keeping healthy while traveling?
SH: My biggest travel tip is to start planning as far in advance as possible! It’s much easier to score hotel and flight deals if you book at least a few months in advance. Also, if you are flexible on where you want to travel to you can find great deals on GoogleFlights or SkyScanner by searching for flights to broad regions such as Europe or Caribbean, rather than searching for flights to specific cities.
There are so many ways to incorporate fitness and movement into traveling! One of my favorite ways is by walking. It is a great way to explore a new city and also get in some exercise. I also love when traveling can involve some outdoor activities such as hiking and swimming.
SBS: What's your daily wellness routine? How has it changed during Covid?
SH: The biggest part of my daily fitness routine is walking. Teaching can be physically exhausting, but one the great parts about it is that it is a very active job and you naturally get in a ton of steps throughout the day.
This changed significantly when schools went remote last year, so I started adding virtual fitness and dance classes into my routine. I am happy to have kept these classes as part of my regular routine even now that schools are back open.
I’m also vegan, and I try to eat a ton of fruits and vegetables. I generally eat very healthy, but I also love to indulge in the occasional vegan ice cream or glass of wine.
SBS: What are your tips for other people hoping to add blog/social media aspects into their work?
SH: Social media is such a powerful tool! There are so many social media channels out there that it can be overwhelming to try to create content for multiple platforms.
So I recommend starting with one or two platforms and keeping them as your focus. Also make sure that you have an email list or blog aside from these platforms, so that if these channels were to ever go away or if people ever deleted their social media accounts, you still have a way to keep in touch with your network.
Instagram is a very powerful tool, but it can be very hard to grow on Instagram. I recommend exploring one of the newer social media channels such as Tik Tok or Clubhouse in addition to Instagram, as it’s much easier to grow, make connections, and build a following on those apps.
SBS:How are you staying calm and mindful during wedding planning?
SH: Wedding planning has been a bit more stressful than I was anticipating! There are so many little things to coordinate and get done that it becomes incredibly time consuming, which can become frustrating when there are just not enough hours in the day.
It has helped me to be incredibly mindful while planning, because in reality, they’re all really fun things to plan! Choosing outfits, music, food, decor, etc. are all really fun in theory, so I have been shifting my focus from ‘I have to work on wedding stuff’ to ‘I get to work on wedding stuff and do this fun thing!’
I also think that planning a wedding is similar to planning a vacation: Part of the fun is the planning process and the anticipation leading up to the event. And then the day itself (or the vacation itself) tends to fly by. I have been keeping this in mind and trying to enjoy the planning!
The best, zaniest part of being Shannon: I teach early childhood music, which has taught me to be silly at all times! Kids have it right when it comes to this playful mindset, and it’s something that I take with me throughout my day.
Shannon’s SBS Mantra: Be Grateful! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to teach, travel and devote time to my physical wellness.
Shannon’s NYC Faves:
Favorite Splurge Restaurant: Blossom
Favorite Healthy Restaurant: Le Botaniste
Favorite Fitness: Phoenix4Fitness.com
Favorite Athletic Apparel: Old Navy. So cute and affordable!
Favorite Athletic Shoes: Brooks
Favorite Fun Activity: Picnicking in Central Park
Favorite Calming Activity: Working on puzzles
Favorite Books: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Favorite Online Resources: Clubhouse App. There are so many informative chats happening daily!