Today is the first day of the fall semester and I found out this morning I won't be teaching. The reason: no students.
I was assigned three classes this semester, the usual Music Theory and Ear Training, and for the first time a handbell class. When I met with the department chair in mid August she said she was pretty sure no students would sign up for the handbell class. Students would meet their performance requirements another way. She said I would likely have one student taking both Theory and Ear Training and another taking only Ear Training because he hadn't gotten a good grade in the previous semester of Theory. Yes, this is a small college with a tiny music department. In my five years there I've had good years with 8, 6, and 4 students. I've also had lean years with 1 and 2 students. Last I counted there were about 15 students in the department.
I checked my class rosters on Friday and saw all three showed zero enrollment. I knew students procrastinated, so I wasn't too worried. I checked again last night. Still zero. So I called the department chair to warn her she may want to prod a couple students.
She called back this morning quite apologetic. The student who was to take both classes doesn't have enough money to enroll this semester. The other student said he is postponing taking the Ear Training class until he took the corresponding Theory class. So, no students this semester.
I will have one student in one class starting in January. She didn't get a good enough grade when she took it this past winter, so must take it again. She is also a senior and it is a required class.
I thought about the prospect of no students during last night and didn't sleep as well as I would have liked. I considered the prospect of being assigned a class for which I had done no preparation and what a scramble that would be through the semester, but I wasn't offered one. I'm sure all classes are already covered. Though I enjoy teaching, this might be a good semester for a sabbatical (of sorts). It will give me more time to take care of my ailing father and his affairs. Beyond that, I'll have plenty of time for composition projects, something I rarely have time for during the rush of classwork.
The department chair will send me the calendar for student recitals and performances. I'll attend as many of those as I can. I'll also venture in for occasional ongoing discussions about revising the theory curriculum.