In a recent blog, I discussed the phone interview. The next step is to meet face to face. Before I accept a student, I always meet with both parent and student in person. Whether you call it a consultation, initial mini-lesson or interview, this meeting is a crucial part of my studio procedures. It is an opportunity for both parties to discover if they are compatible; i.e., is it the “right fit?” I think of it as a two-way interview. Not only am I assessing the student, I am also providing them with a picture of what lessons will be like with me. In my studio, I do not to charge a fee for this interview. It is free for those with whom I decide to meet. However, one could certainly decide to charge a fee as it does take valuable time. It’s up to you! Whatever you choose, here are some ideas to conduct a beginner student interview.
Henry Ford once said, “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” Getting ready for the interview means having all of your marketing materials organized as well as presenting a clean and orderly studio. Remember that this is also your chance to market yourself. In a business sense, you are essentially “selling” yourself and your studio. To set a professional tone, I create a folder for my prospective clients including my studio brochure, policy, business card, and a document on the benefits of music study. As always, dress professionally and treat this as you would any other type of interview. It is about making a positive first impression.
Greet your prospective students warmly and make them feel comfortable. Introduce yourself as you want them to address you (first name or Mrs./Mr.) I like to start with some small talk before launching into questions and assessments. Questions begin easily with asking the student name, date of birth and phone number. I direct questions to the student and want the student to answer them (not mom or dad). A good idea I found recently is to have the parent fill out a questionnaire on their goals, type of instrument at home, and level of commitment for their child while you interview the child. Often the parent will begin to answer questions for the child. This should be discouraged because you want to begin to develop rapport with the student even at this stage. In addition, I always ask what hobbies and interests the child has as well as what their favorite subject in school is. I also ask them if there is anything that they do every day . If they can’t think of anything, I suggest brushing their teeth. I stress that in order to learn the piano, daily practice is necessary and a requirement at my studio.
Now, for the fun part! Remember to put the student at ease and share your joy and passion for creating music! I first ask if the child has learned anything on their own that they would like to share. Then, I teach rote pieces on the black keys, sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and test rhythm by having student clap back a pattern with short and long sounds. In addition, I ask if the student can recite the alphabet. I explain that the musical alphabet is from A to G and ask if they can say it backwards beginning with G. Lastly, I play a piece and ask the student what kind of story the piece tells.
To conclude the interview, I review important points in my studio policy and answer any questions the parent may have. I also discuss lesson time availability. If I decide to accept the student, I will offer a time slot and hold it for three days. During this time, I encourage them to read through all of my studio information and discuss it as a family before they make a decision. If it isn’t the right fit, I refer them to another teacher in the area that I feel would be better suited for them.
What are your interview procedures? Do you charge for the initial meeting? I would love to hear any thoughts about this important aspect of running a studio!
Stay Tuned – my next blog will discuss interviewing the transfer student!