I had an open spot to fill in my schedule this week, so interviews are on my mind. While prepping for a new student meeting myself I thought I should take the chance to detail my process. Hopefully it will help some of you to get the most out of the piano student interview process in your studio.
In many teaching studios, students will come for a piano student interview or meeting before fully enrolling in lessons. This gives student, parents and teachers a chance to get to know each other a little and see if it would be a good fit.
Teachers will have many different names for this but the objective is usually the same. I personally opt for the term meeting I find interview makes it sound very formal and pressurised. Two things which my studio definitely is not.
Intro & Tour
The first thing to do is to welcome the prospective piano family. Show them around your studio. Explain any incentives you have up, if you have extra instruments you use, and anything else that’s fun and unusual in your teaching space.
Next up briefly explain to them what kind of studio you run. If you’re not sure how to go about this think about these questions.
- What’s your teaching philosophy?
- What books and resources do you use?
- Do you have an emphasis on a certain area?
For example, as a brief introduction I might say:
“Colourful Keys is all about variety and adaptability. I teach a wide range of students from preschoolers all the way up to retirees. We have a lot of fun, learning through play, creativity and exploration – but we also work hard to get better at music making and develop life skills like grit, focus and determination. I believe that everyone can learn to play when given a supportive environment and the right encouragement along the way.”
When a prospective piano student comes for a meeting I want them to get a sense of what my studio is like. If they want a very academic and exam-oriented approach to music studies, I’m not the teacher for them. But, if they want to have lots of fun, play with other musicians and learn really solid, functional piano skills we’ll be a great match.
After a piano student interview your prospective piano families should have an idea who you are and what you stand for.
After they’ve warmed up to you and your studio a little, get into your questions for them. This informal conversation can give you a good starting point in getting to know a new piano family.
The new piano student meeting goes both ways – you want to find out about them too.
You could set-up a form to fill in during this section. I prefer keep it relaxed, and a written questionnaire would add a level of formality that I don’t want. All the really important stuff will be written in their registration form anyway.
Here’s a list of questions to get you thinking.
About the Student
- Who’s idea was it to start piano lessons, (child) or (parent)?
- Is (child) excited to learn piano?
- What does (child) enjoy doing? Does s/he like to read, draw or more active games?
- Does s/he know the alphabet?
- What’s her/his favourite subject in school?
- What’s her/his least favourite subject in school?
Practice & Progress Expectations
- Has either (parent) ever studied a musical instrument before? Do you know what to expect?
- How much practice do you expect to put in? Who do you think is responsible for practice happening, (student), (parent) or a combination?
- What do you want to get out of piano lessons? Do you have any specific goals or expectations in mind?
- Will (parent) be able to sit with them during practice or will they be on their own?
- Do you have a piano or keyboard at home?
- Do you have a good stool or bench? Is it adjustable?
- [If the child is small] Do you have a footstool or foot rest (child) can put their feet on?
- What room is the instrument in? Will they be fighting with the TV or other distractions?
Use these questions as a starting point and write out your own based on your priorities. What is important for you and your studio? What do you want to know after a piano student interview?
Once I’ve learned a little about them, the student and I head over to the piano. I don’t label this a lesson, although they will learn a little something. It’s really more of a student assessment but I don’t call it that either (sounds too judgey for my liking).
During our piano time the prospective student and I’ll try to find out what the child’s inclinations and abilities are through little games and activities, such as…
- Sing backs
- Clap backs
- Tapping and clapping in time with music
- Play backs
- Rote teaching
We spend just about 10 minutes together at the piano. During this time the parent has been reviewing and completing my registration form.
Policies & More Questions
Before completing the registration form the prospective piano parent should have read my studio policies. Without belabouring the points too much, I’ll quickly run through them again to make sure everything is understood.
This leaves a few minutes at the end of the new piano student interview for their questions. By this stage I have covered quite a lot, and most likely answered all the questions they had (and didn’t know they had).
What’s your new piano student interview process?
Do you like to have a meeting first or just launch right into lessons?
If you do interview potential students what questions do you ask? What do you want the prospective student and parent to know about you?