Hire The Perfect Music Instructor For Your Music Teaching Business
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 to hire a music instructor for your studio.
Hire the best and cry only once, but you have to know what the best means.
How to Hire a Music Instructor
1. Video interview
2. Phone interview
3. In-person interview
5. Music evaluation
7. Train, trail, shadow
9. Customer check-in
10. 2-month check-in
11. Annual review
Where to Find Music Instructors
I always liked talking to my current teaching staff and encourage them to speak to their friends. I’d even offer them a financial incentive if I hired their referral. Your teachers most likely have other friends that are good musicians.
The key is to be consistent in your efforts with your teaching staff; to remind them every few days about your need to hire a new instructor. I got better results when I provided them with a list of people to consider.
- A friend who has never taught but is a good musician with a great personality
- Band leaders
- Other movers and shakers in the music scene to they can recommend for networking purposes.
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 Referrals
Local universities and colleges with music programs are a great resource. I’ve had good results reaching out to college professors for student referrals. 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 teacher 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.
Ultimately a music instructor has to be able to market to your students. They have to sell your students on this idea that…
- Playing music is fun
- Playing music is easy
- The child is good at it music
The music instructor is in constant selling mode. Each lesson is an opportunity for an instructor 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 the culture like? Does this place seem like a well-run operation?
Hiring is 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 like. Typically when we think of an Avatar, we think of a customer Avatar; what your ideal customer would look like. Forming an employee avatar could provide you with greater 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 can help guide you through the hiring process.
An Employee Avatar
My employee avatar was…
- Male or female, 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
- Aa solid command and mastery of their instrument, but they aren’t necessarily playing at a top-tier level.
- What they lack in musical ability, they make up for in personality.
- They are proficient on one instrument, but they have a basic mastery of one other instrument.
- They taught lessons to the kid next door and a few friends in college, but never taught for teaching studio.
By no means would I expect that a prospective employee hit all these points. This is for a fictitious employee that I’ve created. An employee avatar serves as a guide to help guide you through the hiring process.
Hire for Personality
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 by someone’s resume alone. Perhaps they were a music major at Berklee and carry other impressive credentials. A candidate with musical credentials might lack the personality that is so essential for a good music instructor – the ability to connect, communicate and be engaging.
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 $15 -$16 an hour and I listed this in 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’d 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. Below is an example of a job posting I created for a guitar instructor. Feel free to use and edit for any instrument.
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.
Asking job candidates to do a video interview will save you time and will allow you to quickly identify attractive candidates. The video interview creates an opportunity for you to take your time and pick up on nuances of the candidate’s 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.
Employees that don’t follow direction can be a source of frustration when it comes to management. 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 the candidate doesn’t follow your directions, it’s an indication that this person will likely not follow directions well as an employee. If they aren’t paying attention to details as a job candidate, they certainly won’t as an employee.
Choosing the Right Music Instructor
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. It 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?
The phone interview is an opportunity 2 engage one-on-one with the job candidate. I like to keep the phone interview to a maximum of 10 minutes with set questions. See below.
- What is your availability?
- Have you ever played in a band or ensemble?
- If yes, what instrument?
- The position starts at $16. Does this rate work for you?
- Have you ever worked with kids? If yes please explain.
- Have you ever taught before?
- Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this job?
Focus on Style
I don’t care so much about the details of their answers. I’m listening for how they’re communicating. ‘d 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 in 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
- Who’s your favorite musician or songwriter. They don’t necessarily have to be a rock or pop artist
- What qualities do you think a good teacher should have?
- Have you ever been in a position of leadership? If yes, what did you find challenging about this?
- How did you handle this challenge?
- Why has music been important in your life?
- What hopes do you have for your students?
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
- What position did the job candidate have at your organization?
- What is the time frame they worked at your organization?
- What were your impressions of this employee?
- This person is applying to be a music instructor at my studio. Would you recommend them for this position?
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 observe each instructor. Below are some sample questions I would have them fill out.
- How would you describe the instructor’s lesson structure?
- How did the instructor build rapport with the student?
- What did the instructor do in the lesson that you feel you could incorporate
- 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, 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 parents of the students and ask them a couple of questions. Maybe it’s an email asking for a couple of questions about 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. See the following blogs to learn more about how to hire a music instructor.