How to Hire a Music Instructor | Ep 42

September 19, 2019

Finding the Perfect Music Instructor For Your Studio

We’ve all made a bad hire before. The music instructor had an impressive resume, seemed nice, could really play well. After a few months on the job cracks begin to form, tension grows, your authority feels challenged. We all know the ending to this story. In this episode I map how how hire a music instructor for your studio.


Hire the best and cry only once, but you have to know what the best means

~ Jay Abraham


[Overview] How to Hire a Music Instructor

1. Video interview
2. Phone interview
3. In-person interview
4. Referrals
5. Music evaluation
6. Hire
7. Train, trail, shadow
8. Check-in
9. Customer check in
10. 2-month check in
11. Annual review


Where to Find Music Instructors

I always like to talk to my current teaching staff, trying to encourage them to speak to their friends.. These people are connected to the music scene in your city; they’ve got friends.


There was a guitar player in my community who only taught the top tier guitarist. Some of my guitar instructors took lessons from this him. I would often ask him if he had any instructors or any students that he thought would be a good fit.


Music Instructor Referalls 

Local universities  and colleges with music programs are a great resource. I’ve had good results reaching out to College professors for studnet referalls. There are an abundant amount of college age musicians looking for a plan after college. Of course  there is Indeed and Craigslist.


The whole process of hiring a music is an epic act of marketing. Whenever  communication is at play in your teaching studio, you’re engaging in some form of marketing.


Hiring is a Two-Way Street

Whenever impressions are being made and feelings are being felt, you’re marketing. The hiring process is layered with impressions and feelings. The prospective music teacher is marketing and selling to you. They’re trying to convey their beliefs to you on education and how they would fit perfectly into your studio and during the whole interview process, you want to remain hypersensitive to the job candidates, marketing skills.


Your music instructors bring your product and brand to life


Ultimately this music instructor, they have to be able to market to your students. They have to sell your students on this idea that playing music is fun, that it’s easy, that the child is good at it.


The music instructor is in constant selling mode. Each lesson is an opportunity for an instructor to to help a child form a deeper connection to music.


Don’t overlook the fact that you’re marketing to them as well. They’re asking themselves, what do I think of this person interviewing me? What would it be like to work for this person? What’s this place like? What’s the culture like? Does this play seem like a, a well-run operation?


It’s a two way street. The hiring process is an opportunity for you to convey the culture and beliefs of your studio. It’s also an opportunity to make a positive impression.


Your Ideal Music Instructor

Good marketing is always about making a positive impression. Creating an employee avatar would help give you a sense of what your ideal instructor would look. Typically when we think of an Avatar, we think of a customer Avatar; what your ideal customer would look like. But forming an employee avatar could provide you with focus in your hiring effort.  Outlining a description of what your ideal instructor would look like, what, what qualities would they have, what level of experience and education, what personality traits.


The whole process of hiring a music is an epic act of marketing. Whenever  communication is at play in your teaching studio, you’re engaging in some form of marketing.


An Employee Avatar

my employee avatar was a male or female, say 23 years old, a jazz studies major who grew up on Led Zeppelin and Radiohead. They are part hipster, part bookworm, but they could comfortably weave in Rachmaninov, Thelonius Monk and the Clash in the same sentence and somehow make it all make sense. They have a solid command and basic mastery of their instrument, but they aren’t necessarily playing at a top tier level. What they lack in musical chops, they make up for in personality and in ability to connect with people. They are proficient on one instrument, but they can get around on at least one other instrument. They taught lessons to the kid next door and a few friends in college, but never taught for teaching studio.


This is this for fictitious employee that I’ve created. By no means would I expect that a prospective employee hit all these points.


It just helps put into focus for me what it is that I’m looking for.  Notice that I mentioned that my avatar isn’t necessarily the best player in town. My strategy was always to train and mentor my teaching staff. I definitely focused more on personality and people’s ability to connect with other people. This was key when it came to understanding how to hire a music instructor.


It’s easy to be impressed and look at someone’s resume that was a music major at Berklee and think, wow, this person’s credentials look great. I’m going to hire this guy but the personality by not be there. The ability to connect and to communicate and to be engaging if those things aren’t there, they’re not necessarily a good teacher.


Why the Best isn’t Always the Best

I’ve found that hiring a seasoned musician and a seasoned instructor isn’t always the best route to go.  They can be more reluctant to embrace the culture of a studio. The instructor who’s been teaching for 10 or so years isn’t  used to being told what and how to teach. The less experienced instructor is often more eager for guidance. They’re much more eager to learn and listen.


My starting rate from  instructors was $16 -$17 an hour and I listed this my job posting. A seasoned veteran wouldn’t even bother when they see a rate lower than what they would charge on their own. If you’ve never taught before you’ll be thrilled to leave  your coffee house gig so you can teach at a music studio and make almost twice the amount of money.


How to Write An Ad For A Music Instructor

Before you can hire your music instructor, you need to write an ad


Guitar Instructor

Do you play the guitar and love working with kids? Do you have a passion for music and education? If YES, this could very well be your dream job. At Dave Simon’s Rock School we believe that all children have the ability to play music. Our band and lesson programs focus on making music fun and easy so kids can feel successful and good about themselves.


Instructions for applying

Record a short video on your phone answering these 3 questions below.
Begin the video stating your name and the position you are applying for



• Tell us about a person or mentor that has inspired you

• What is so unique or special about this person?

• How do you try to emulate this person in your life

Your answers do not have to have to be about a music teacher. You can pick anyone who has had an impact on your life.


Video Interview

Asking job candidates to do a video interview will save you a lot of time and will allow you to quickly except through candidates. The video interview creates an opportunity for you to take your time and pick up on nuances of the candidates communication style. It can also be helpful to share the video with other people in your organization and ask them to share their impressions of the candidate.


One of the most frustrating things is having employees that don’t follow directions. The directions here are to make a video on your phone and begin the video stating your name and the position you’re applying for. If they don’t say their name and the position they’re applying for, it’s an indication that this person might not, follow directions well.  Applying for a job is a time that anyone would be more likely to pay attention to details.


You might get into a situation where you’re struggling trying to decide between two candidates for the job and little details like that can help tip the scales.


The questions for the video have nothing to do about music. It will allow you to get a feel for what their personality is like.



The following questions can be used to capture your impressions of the job Candidate as they go through the hiring process. Can also be helpful to have your office staff fill out this form as well. It is a great way to see if multiple people in your organization are having a similar response.


Extravert or introvert?

Flat delivery or more expressive?




phone interview

The phone interview is an opportunity 2 engage one-on-one with the job candidate. I like the keep is phone interviews to a maximum of 10 minutes with set questions. See below.


  1. What is your availability?
  2. Have you ever played in a band or ensemble?
  3. If yes, what instrument?
  4. The position starts at $16. Does this rate work for you?
  5. Have you ever worked with kids? If yes please explain.
  6. Have you ever taught before?
  7. Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this job


I don’t care so much about the details of their answers. I’m listening for how they’re communicating and I go back to my initial impressions.


If phone interview goes well then I’m going to have them come in for an in-person interview. I’ll inform them that interview will only be 15 minutes long. This would allow me to end the interview after 15 minutes or extend it if it’s going well.


What Time is It?

I’m also aware of what time they arrive and how they’re dressed. Typically, if you’re going to go on a job interview at 2:00 pm you don’t want to walk in the door at 2:00; that’s late in my book. Ideally the candidate is sitting your lobby by 1:50 or 1:55.


In terms of dress, I’m just looking to see if they made an effort in their attire.  If they’re wearing khakis and a button down shirt, they may be a little overdressed but they at least send the message that they take this interview seriously.  Besides you’re always better off being overdressed on a job interview than underdressed


In-Person Interview Questions

  1. Who’s your favorite musician or songwriter. They don’t necessary have to be a rock or pop artist
  2. What qualities do you think a good teacher should have?
  3. Have you ever been in a position of leadership? If yes, what did you find challenging about this?
  4. How did you handle this challenge?
  5. Why has music been important in your life?
  6. What hopes do you have for your students?

Click here for more interview questions


How to Hire A Music Instructor Part II

The video interview goes well, The phone interview goes well, the in-person interview goes well; you’re on your way to hiring a new instructor. At this point it’s time to call the references.


Questions for References

  1. What position did the job candidate have at your organization?
  2. What is the time frame they worked at your organization?
  3. What were your impressions of this employee?
  4. This person is hiring to be a music instructor at my studio.
  5. Would you recommend them for this position?


Musical Evaluation

Email me at for a complete list of skills I use to evaluate a music instructor. This list includes guitar, drums, piano and voice.

Train, Trail and Shadow

I typically hire people that haven’t taught before, I have new hires shadow other teachers and have them fill out a little survey after they watch each teacher teach


  1. How would you describe the instructors lesson structure?
  2. How did the instructor build rapport with the student?
  3. What did the instructor do in the lesson that you feel you could incorporate
  4. into your own lessons?


One of the worse things you could do with a new employee is to throw them to the wolves. This happens in so many businesses. You  want to make your new employee feel like you’re there for them. It’s important to constantly  check in with them and ask them if they feel like you’re providing the right guidance. Create systems to manage this.  Define for  your new employee what success looks like.

How To Integrate Your New Instructor

let’s say they, you schedule two or three days of training and shadowing other teachers. Now your new teacher starts teaching, but you want to check in with him or her to see how the first day went? Ask them “is there anything that I can do to help, you know?” “Let’s review your, your students for the day and tell me what your impressions were. Really be a partner there for them

Survey the Parents

Check in with the the parents of the students and ask them a couple of questions. Maybe it’s an email asking for a couple of questions of their impressions of him.


The parents will be impressed that you’re doing this because they’re upset or they’re not happy in the first place that their child’s  old teacher was replaced.

You want to take care of your relationship with these parents. You want to reassure them that your on  top of it and sensitive to their needs or concerns.


How to Hire a Music Instructor

This overview of how to hire a music instructor should hopefully make for better and longer lasting hires. Let me know if you find this helpful.




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