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#2319262 - 08/24/14 02:10 PM Interviewing for a piano teaching job  
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Arghhh Offline
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I will be interviewing in the next couple of days for teaching piano for a music studio. I think most of the teaching will be done from the students' homes, not in-studio. What kinds of questions do you think I should be prepared to answer, and what should I ask?


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
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#2319268 - 08/24/14 02:21 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Compensation, scheduling (including cancellations and make ups), issues of non-competition when you want to stop working for them and teach students privately.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2319283 - 08/24/14 02:38 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Also ask how they recruit and maintain students. You'll want to know how many students you'll be able to teach (since that will translate into your income). And if those students are not already part of the school, where will they come from and how long does the school think it will take before you have a mostly full teaching schedule.

In addition to the details of your own contract (and esp what Malkin mentioned) you'll also want to know what kind of a contract students sign, and whether the school has a contract for students that you have to use as is or whether you can make any changes to the contract for your specific students.

You also might ask if there are any professional development opportunities for you, does the school provide assistance for you to attend workshops or conferences (you might not want to ask this outright, because if the answer is just no it would be awkward).

You could also ask if there is any assistance in procuring teaching materials, books etc, or any discount for you and or your students.

Also, if you don't already know, you might want to ask how many other piano teachers are on staff, whether there are any other instrument or voice teachers, whether students are switched from one teacher to another etc.

Are there any tests/grades, competitions, or recitals that the school organizes or otherwise makes it easier for students (and teachers) to participate in.

The above are all things you could ask, hopefully some actual teachers (since I am not one!) can give you some ideas about what you might be asked. Good luck!



Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
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#2319421 - 08/24/14 10:43 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Questions you might be asked: How comfortable are you teaching very young students or teaching adults? What is your teaching philosophy? Are you able to teach theory? Can you teach pop and jazz or are you strictly classical? Do you use a method and which one do you prefer?


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#2319424 - 08/24/14 10:48 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Hi Arrgh,

I'm sure you've already thought of the things I'm going to suggest, but you should consider that they'll ask the following for sure:

1- What is your approach to teaching various aspects of music i.e. technique, sight-reading, theory, ear training, etc? Do you have one?

2- What is your pedagogical method? How does it differ when teaching young child beginners, early advancing teenagers, adults of every kind, and precociously talented children?

3- How do you prepare your students for performances of various kinds, or auditions and exams?

4- What are you yourself willing to do to recruit new students, or promote the school?

5- What is your educational background? Is there anything in it that sets you apart?

6- What is your professional experience, both teaching and performing?

7- What are your strengths and/or weaknesses?

8- What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (an annoying question, and there is no right answer)

9- Can you provide references?


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
#2319462 - 08/25/14 01:35 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Arghhh Offline
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Thanks for the input everyone. There were a few things I hadn't thought of.

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Hi Arrgh,
2- What is your pedagogical method? How does it differ when teaching young child beginners, early advancing teenagers, adults of every kind, and precociously talented children?


Now that's a good question (the others were too) that I'm not sure I can provide more than a general answer for due to lack of experience teaching these different groups. I would definitely use different teaching materials for each of those groups to be age-appropriate, I would have to modify my how I describe concepts, and provide different types of encouragement, but otherwise, I don't know how much would change?


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#2319514 - 08/25/14 06:22 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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You'll definitely be asked about your method of teaching. Talk about how you roughly structure your lessons, but make it clear your lessons will be fun, especially for younger students.

Other questions you might be asked are..

"What do you do if a younger student wants to quit?"
"What do you do when it's clear a student is not making any progress?"
"Do you think anyone can be taught the piano?"

I've been asked these 3 questions at interviews over the years.


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#2319619 - 08/25/14 10:47 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Prepare a little plug about how you would relish being part of a team, and how much you would enjoy representing this music school when you are out in the field. Ask them if there is some kind of uniform you might wear, to advertise their business each time you leave your home. They'll think you're a bit nuts, but they'll like your spirit.






#2319631 - 08/25/14 11:08 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh


I would definitely use different teaching materials for each of those groups to be age-appropriate, I would have to modify my how I describe concepts, and provide different types of encouragement, but otherwise, I don't know how much would change?



Answer: not much, but you do skip some steps.

What I've found teaching gifted children, for example, is that you have to meet them at the level they are at, wherever that is, and then treat it as perfectly normal. If an 8 year old can play Mozart concerti, for example, but has trouble reading or with their ear training, then you work on those things especially with them. Then expect them to go through the early stages really fast, or skip ahead to more advanced things right away.

Adult beginners took me a long time to figure out. You have to get them to an interesting place in the literature as soon as possible, while still teaching them everything they need to know and very well too.

Intermediate and advanced teens are quite straightforward in comparison.

The important thing for your interview is just to have some kind of answer fleshed out. It's better to have too little to say than nothing at all. And it's OK to tell the truth. If you've never taught a prodigiously talented child- for example, just say so. But also be ready to say how you WOULD teach such a student.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
#2319632 - 08/25/14 11:08 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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I would add, after reading Chasing Rainbow's problems, to ask who enforces policy and handles scheduling, chasing down payments etc. If I were a teacher and i was going to give away half the gross to a school, I would want them to handle those unpleasant chores.

Kurt


**********************************************************************************************************
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#2319727 - 08/25/14 04:14 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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I would add too, some of the good questions above that you'll want the answers to (like about non-competition clauses and other nitty-gritty stuff) may be better for *after* you've been offered the job.


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#2319750 - 08/25/14 05:01 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Well, I had two interviews today. Interview #1 offered me a job (couldn't say how many students I could get, which is understandable since they said they keep picking up students until around October 1st), and the other offered me a job as a substitute. I agreed to be on their sub list.

Some of the questions I was asked:
- talk about my teaching experience
- what is my teaching personality, and what would I do if had a student with a personality (i.e. very energetic) that I don't prefer?
- how would I handle a student that doesn't practice?
- how would I handle a student who isn't motivated?
- do I teach just classical?
- have I prepared students for recitals and performances?

In both cases I was allowed to read over their contract before signing. The contract included non-competition info. Job #1 said if I left the school I would not be able to teach any student from the school for a period of two years, unless they were already my students when I joined the school. Job #2 I think just had a one-year limit.

So now I just have to decide whether or not to take the first job. Since that one is only in-home lessons, which may be all over the city, I'm inclined to decline and just see if I can pick up students with my own advertising. This place also requires me to pick up the checks, and allows me to do the scheduling.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#2319817 - 08/25/14 08:36 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Have you considered promoting your teaching independently? What you are applying to is not so much a school but a referral service. Consider eliminating the middle man.

#2319829 - 08/25/14 09:00 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Jonathan Baker]  
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
Have you considered promoting your teaching independently? What you are applying to is not so much a school but a referral service. Consider eliminating the middle man.


This is why I am hesitating on the in-home only lessons. As far as I see it, the only benefit is that currently I have 0 students, and this other business has some students for me. So initially I would be making more with them. But I think the benefits end once I have some students of my own.

Since the other place offers studio space for me, I would much prefer teaching in a studio than driving all over the place.

Last edited by Arghhh; 08/25/14 09:01 PM.

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#2319874 - 08/25/14 11:30 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Just out of curiousity, what is the rate split between the studio and yourself for each of the two positions?

Substitute piano teaching sounds pretty dreadful, unless you are covering for someone's maternity leave or a longterm illness. Does it mean you are on call several days a week, in the hopes of earning $21 for Billy's 30-minute Thursday lesson, when his real teacher, Mrs. Chen, is having her fridge repaired?

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 08/25/14 11:35 PM.
#2319877 - 08/25/14 11:40 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Peter K. Mose]  
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Arghhh Offline
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Just out of curiousity, what is the rate split between the studio and yourself for each of the two positions?

Substitute piano teaching sounds pretty dreadful, unless you are covering for someone's maternity leave or a longterm illness.


Looks like it is about a 50/50 split.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#2320134 - 08/26/14 10:40 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Jonathan Baker]  
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
Have you considered promoting your teaching independently? What you are applying to is not so much a school but a referral service. Consider eliminating the middle man.


I have lately been wondering whether there might be a business model for a middle man who would link skype students and skype teachers and take a percentage.


gotta go practice
#2320187 - 08/26/14 12:27 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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You can always advertise through these students and ask their parents to find you more private students. If they like you, they'll help you out.


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#2320191 - 08/26/14 12:36 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

You can always advertise through these students and ask their parents to find you more private students. If they like you, they'll help you out.


Actually, that's a very good idea. There are several very effective things you can do to promote your studio.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
#2320254 - 08/26/14 03:16 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
You can always advertise through these students and ask their parents to find you more private students. If they like you, they'll help you out.

Regarding students brought to you by referral from your students that you have through this organization: if you are going to work for this organization, I would check out their understanding of what the agreement is about keeping them vs. giving them up if you stop working for the organization.

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 08/26/14 03:16 PM.

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#2320270 - 08/26/14 03:48 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
You can always advertise through these students and ask their parents to find you more private students. If they like you, they'll help you out.

Regarding students brought to you by referral from your students that you have through this organization: if you are going to work for this organization, I would check out their understanding of what the agreement is about keeping them vs. giving them up if you stop working for the organization.


I thought I remembered one of the places I talked to mentioning that - that all referrals from their students would also become their students. However, it is not in the contract given to me to sign.


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#2320394 - 08/26/14 10:18 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR

I have lately been wondering whether there might be a business model for a middle man who would link skype students and skype teachers and take a percentage.


Or simply eliminate the middle man and do it ones self.

#2320565 - 08/27/14 09:33 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Jonathan Baker]  
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TimR Offline
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
Originally Posted by TimR

I have lately been wondering whether there might be a business model for a middle man who would link skype students and skype teachers and take a percentage.


Or simply eliminate the middle man and do it ones self.


Or cut out all the middle men and teach yourself.

But for an example, take a high school youth who plays clarinet, cello, whatever. His band director was a trumpet major; he can run an ensemble and teach fingerings, but he knows there are fine points better taught by a specialist.

Meanwhile the principal cellist with the Boston Symphony really has a passion for Skype and the guy with New York hates it equally, while the gal in Minneapolis Skypes but only with grad students.

How do we match them up? It's almost like a dating service. There must be a profit in the connection part of this equation.



gotta go practice
#2320628 - 08/27/14 11:49 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
You can always advertise through these students and ask their parents to find you more private students. If they like you, they'll help you out.

Regarding students brought to you by referral from your students that you have through this organization: if you are going to work for this organization, I would check out their understanding of what the agreement is about keeping them vs. giving them up if you stop working for the organization.


I thought I remembered one of the places I talked to mentioning that - that all referrals from their students would also become their students. However, it is not in the contract given to me to sign.

For myself, I would prefer to verify a point like this that could affect a large part of the clientele I'm hoping to build. Perhaps you actually did hear this in conversation with this school, and it's either an oversight that it's not in the contract, or they think it's so obvious that it hasn't occurred to them to put it in the contract. Or perhaps they're happy with you having the students, in which case it would be a good idea to have that verbal understanding added in writing in the contract.


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#2320718 - 08/27/14 03:19 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR

Meanwhile the principal cellist with the Boston Symphony really has a passion for Skype and the guy with New York hates it equally, while the gal in Minneapolis Skypes but only with grad students.How do we match them up?


Easy - the principle cellist of the Boston Symphony has his own website advertising that he teaches with Skype. Potential students go onto Google and type "cello lessons, Skype" and if his website is intelligently designed he will show up within the first three screen-pages.

Originally Posted by TimR
It's almost like a dating service. There must be a profit in the connection part of this equation.


In this case the dating service is Google, and indeed there is a profit - for the teacher. And for the same reason I have encouraged Arghh to start her own business rather than have her hard-earned income siphoned off by what amounts to a mere switchboard operator. Anyone with a computer can start a business if they are motivated - it costs so little to get started.

#2320748 - 08/27/14 05:07 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Jonathan Baker]  
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Jonathan, let's not forget that all these things require marketing support, and that costs money these days. If you're don't have any optimization, for example, your website won't show up in the first 10 pages of that Google search.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
#2320820 - 08/27/14 08:12 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Arghhh]  
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I think that there are programmers around who can offer SEO (search engine optimization) and maybe at not too great a cost. It would be a business expense.

#2320839 - 08/27/14 08:48 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Jonathan Baker Offline
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I think the matter of business promotion hinges on curiosity and persistence. And so much depends upon the marketplace one is addressing as a professional.

I never used outside 'optimization' beyond purchasing front-page space with google and yahoo during the first year of web presence. That first year I must have spent $3,000 on advertising - after that my optimization efforts paid off and I appeared on page one without paying.

Optimization can be done by oneself and there are websites illustrating just how to do it. Currently, I estimate that for every dollar I spend on promoting my business I make fifty dollars in direct return, and that is an expense and rate of return I readily accept.

On the other hand, those who pay a 'professional' to build a website and then pay for outsourcing optimization could spend several thousand dollars at the start. I decided I could learn to do that myself and did, and I honestly do not know anyone less competent at computer technology than Yours Truly.

I empathize with anyone intimidated by these matters when just starting out - I was but persisted just the same. And when some new angle to the matter comes along I am always confused….until I figure it out (if I can).

I am skeptical about teachers being corralled into 'teacher services' that take a substantial portion of a teacher's earnings. It simply smacks of an easy profit for whoever is running such a switchboard at the expense and labor of the earnest piano teacher.

#2321042 - 08/28/14 10:03 AM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: Jonathan Baker]  
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Baker
I think the matter of business promotion hinges on curiosity and persistence. And so much depends upon the marketplace one is addressing as a professional.

I never used outside 'optimization' beyond purchasing front-page space with google and yahoo during the first year of web presence. That first year I must have spent $3,000 on advertising - after that my optimization efforts paid off and I appeared on page one without paying.

Optimization can be done by oneself and there are websites illustrating just how to do it. I estimate that for every dollar I spend on promoting my business I make fifty dollars in direct return, and that is an expense and rate of return I readily accept.

On the other hand, those who pay a 'professional' to build a website and then pay for outsourcing optimization could spend several thousand dollars at the start. I decided I could learn to do that myself and did, and I honestly do not know anyone less competent at computer technology than Yours Truly.

I empathize with anyone intimidated by these matters when just starting out - I was but persisted just the same. And when some new angle to the matter comes along I am always confused….until I figure it out (if I can).

I am skeptical about teachers being corralled into 'teacher services' that take a substantial portion of a teacher's earnings. It simply smacks of an easy profit for whoever is running such a switchboard at the expense and labor of the earnest piano teacher.


That's an excellent return. I used to do a lot of SEO myself for my site, and it ranked number 1 for a number of terms, for piano lessons and for wedding music in various regions in the UK. However, with Google constantly changing their algorithm I dropped off page 1. Rather than going again, and due to time constraints, I decided to buy traffic. I now use Google Adwords and Facebook and have found a significant number of piano pupils and and paid gigs. Some musicians are initially afraid to go for paid advertising online, because they feel they'll waste money, but it's a superb investment if you get it right..


Discover 5 strategies to write effective ads for your piano teaching business
= > Click here for your FREE guide < =

#2321315 - 08/28/14 10:44 PM Re: Interviewing for a piano teaching job [Re: mc9320]  
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Jonathan Baker Offline
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mc9320 - yes, I agree with your points. The whole endeavor takes patience, but it is well worth the effort if one is willing to give it some time. From my perspective it is like being a beginner piano student - very humbling! But if we take these challenges in small doses and proceed only one step at a time we can get somewhere.

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