The audition-interview can be a vital part of the selection process when finding a music teacher. It gives the prospective student, the parent (or guardian) and the music teacher the opportunity to gather information needed to make a final decision on where to study. The meeting occurs after first contact (phone/email) between a private music teacher and a prospective student’s family.
Purpose of an Audition-Interview
During the audition-interview, the prospective student and parent can learn more about a music educator’s teaching philosophies and policies. The music teacher uses this meeting to assess the student, the family and determine compatibility.
Determining compatibility is a critical part of the meeting. It’s a case of determining whether the student’s communication and learning style is well-matched to the teacher’s communication and teaching style, determining how well the parents’ vision meshes with the teacher’s and how well all parties “click” with each other.
How to Prepare for an Audition-Interview
Each person involved in the audition-interview has to prepare in advance. A music teacher should have printed copies of his or her studio policies, studio calendar, assessment tools and registration form ready.
A beginner student should think about why he or she is interested in music lessons and why he or she is interested in a specific instrument. A transfer student should practice a couple of pieces learned with his or her previous teacher and review some technical exercises.
Parents of transfer students can prepare for the audition-interview by bringing a copy of their child’s previous exam transcript(s), music books used previously and assignment book. All parents should bring a list of questions and their cheque book.
What Happens at an Audition-Interview?
The audition-interview can take between 30 – 60 minutes. The meeting can be broken down into three sections: Teacher Interview, Assessment and Policies, Philosophies and Final Questions.
During the Teacher Interview, the teacher can direct some questions to the prospective student and the rest to the parent/guardian. Some questions that a music teacher can ask a potential student are:
- Why do you want to take music lessons?
- What do you like about music?
- What are some of your hobbies and interests?
- Do you like taking music lessons? (for transfer students)
- Are you willing to practice regularly? How much time are you willing to commit?
- What would you like to learn?
The following are sample questions that can be directed to the student’s parent or guardian:
- What is the setup, practice environment and support structure to help the student organize his or her practice?
- What extra-curricular activities does the student have?
- What amount of time do you feel is reasonable for daily practice?
- Is the student or the family involved in other musical activities?
- Why did you discontinue lessons with your previous teacher?
During the Assessment, the teacher may ask a potential student to perform one or two pieces and technical exercises, followed by aural, reading, theory and rhythm questions. This helps the teacher assess technique, musicality and posture.
The teacher may ask the parent to wait in another room during the assessment portion. This gives the music teacher and student an opportunity to see how well they “click” without outside influences or interruptions.
During Policies, Philosophies and Final Questions, the music teacher outlines his or her studio policies with regards to attendance, expectations, rescheduling lessons, termination of lessons and tuition fees. He or she may also present the Studio Calendar at this time.
The music teacher also shares his or her teaching philosophies and approaches with the prospective student and parent(s). He or she may do a walk-through of what happens during a regular lesson.
Finally, the parent and prospective student have an opportunity to ask questions that haven't been answered yet. They can also voice concerns that they would like the music teacher to know.
After the Audition-Interview
All parties should take some time to reflect and review the information they have been given. During this “cooling off” period, one may conclude that the student’s or the family’s goals do not mesh well with the teacher’s methods and teaching style.
Arrangements should be made to follow up after the audition-interview. The final stage is to either complete the registration process with the potential student or have the teacher recommend several other qualified teachers in the area that may better serve the needs of the student and the family.
Taking the time to meet for an audition-interview is a vital part of the process when finding a music teacher. Music lessons are a long-term commitment and investment. Registering with a music teacher is the beginning of what can be a long and fruitful relationship. The audition-interview sets the tone for the relationship.
Color in my Piano: Printables updated: Student Info form, and Student Interview forms (accessed August 4, 2010).
Torney, Helen, “The Professional Studio: Interviewing Prospective Students”, Music Matters, January/February 2002, p. 2 – 4.
Originally published on Suite101.com on August 6, 2010. Updated March 22, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.