Friday, March 12, 2010

Interviewing New Beginners

Good morning! Happy Friday (finally!). We are supposed to get a little bit of snow here today, which, after the winter we've had in Iowa already, is a bit depressing news.

Today, I want to talk about how I interview prospective students and decide if they are ready for piano. I think this is a very, very important step. Even if all you do is ask their mother a few questions on the phone, you MUST screen students to make sure they are going to be ready to start.

I made this mistake with one of my first students. His sister was my second student ever. I was young(er) and only had one student at the time. This mother approached me wanting me to teach two of her children. She has five- three boys and two girls. So, I agreed to teach the two girls, one beginner and one intermediate student. About six months later, she asked me to start teaching her six year old. He was very, very enthusiastic. Totally excited. I met the child once, and agreed to teach him. BIG mistake. I still teach him, but I spent the first year pulling my hair out because he was not ready. Last year, he finally just had everything "click" and things are beginning to come naturally for him. That was a very exciting time!

Anyways, the point of the story was to show you that screening students is an absolute necessity! There are several important questions to ask.

1. How old is the student? {I never start children younger than 6. Ever. Suzuki method is for children younger than 5-6}

2. Can the child read?
(The child needs to be able to read directions, their lesson notebook, and have a very good grasp of the alphabet (backwards and forwards)}

3. Can the child count? {Obviously, for rhythm. They also need to understand repeating number patterns (1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4)}

4. Can the child sit for at least 1/2 an hour? {This was another dire mistake with that boy I spoke about. He still has trouble sitting for 1/2 an hour. My general lesson time is half an hour. I need full attention for that period so I can teach as much as I can and their little minds can absorb as much as they can during that time}

If the parent can answer yes to all these questions, you have a prospective student. If I am still leery, I will often go for the "first lesson" and just assess them. See what they can do, try them out on the lesson books, see if it will work. I NEVER charge for that trial lesson. Even if I continue on with lessons with that particular student, I don't charge. I just don't think it's right.

Screening your students is a definite must--it protects you and your reputation, and it protects the child's self esteem. It's never any fun taking lessons for awhile only to have to quit because someone else says you can't do it. Think about the children, and make your decision based on information.

Thanks for stopping!


No comments:

Post a Comment