The interview process for the transfer student provides a window of opportunity. First, to see if your studio is the right fit. Second, to assess skills and knowledge, and third, a great way to start planning curriculum if it turns out to be a good fit! I have developed a form I use with a list of activities as well as questions that include the obvious (name, age, date of birth, grade in school, and school that they attend). I take notes on this form so that I can refer back to it later. After the initial questions have been asked, I launch into the following assessment activities.
To begin with, I invite the student to perform their favorite piece (in my initial phone interview, I explain that I would like to hear them perform so they are prepared for this) followed by sight playing, scales, improvisation, and listening quizzes. As with the any interview, preparation is key! I have many different leveled sight playing books on hand to pick an appropriate level after I have heard their performance. Observe the student while they are sight playing – are there eyes tracking? How is their eye-hand coordination? Create improvisation activities such as question-answer phrases or improvising a melody over an ostinato accompaniment, for example. Remember not to teach, or provide lengthy comments after each activity. Move quickly from one activity to the next. The idea here is to see how the student responds to different musical situations. On my notes, I write down observations, so this could look like – “lovely musicality, needs attention to rhythm and posture/hand position.” I use my notes to prepare for their lessons if I decide to take them.
After the activities, I ask the student and parent the following questions:
Interview Questions for Student
- What after-school activities do you have?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- How many years of piano lessons have you had?
- What kind of music did you study?
- What length of lesson did you have (30, 45 or 60-minutes)?
- How long did you practice per day?
- Do you like to practice?
- Were you involved in any recitals, contests, or exam programs?
Interview Questions for Parent
- Why did you change teachers?
- What kind of piano do you have at home?
- What are your goals for your child in taking piano lessons?
At the end of the interview, I offer a brief diagnosis of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. If I decide to accept the student, I explain my expectations for practice as well as policies and procedures. If, on the other hand, I feel that it is not the right fit for my studio, I will refer the student to another teacher. Even if I choose to accept the transfer student, I encourage both parent and student to carefully consider lessons before we set up a lesson time. Do you have any additional tips for interviewing the transfer student? I would love to hear them in the comments below!