ASMTA Conference: Transfer Students


Transfer Students- Lee Galloway

(Notes from conference…) 

Concert pianists study- There was usually a distinct difference between beginner teacher and intermediate teacher.

Beginning- fun, relaxed, love of the music, (usually no technique exercises), etc.

Intermediate- Intense, musical detail

A number of students remarked that if they would have started with their intermediate teacher they would have quit.

When/how to orchestrate that shift…? Should be a gradual shift. Start with the love and music and then gradually add in the technique exercises etc.


-Are you currently taking lessons?

-Why are you switching teachers? If they won’t or can’t answer. Ask for some pros and cons of the teacher.

-Was the student progressing? Why or why not?

-Does the student practice independently?

Interview or Audition-

Audition- you are looking for a specific type of student.

Interview- you are looking to fill a spot. Willing to take various students.

Have parent bring 2-3 years of music that they have been working on and assignment books..

Look inside books, are pieces being skipped? Is there a pattern to the skipped pieces? (harder rhythms, etc…)

Most of the interview, talk to the student no matter how old they are. Talk with them as an equal. Ask for opinions, how they feel about music, lesson, their past teacher.

This will also allow you to gage the parent reaction, how much they want to interject, if there is any “infection” between parent and student, etc.


-Do they like to perform? If yes, What do they like about performing?

-What kind of music they like?

-For older students- what are they hoping to achieve with lessons?

-What is their experience with past teachers?

-Why do you think your changing teachers?

-What did you like about the teacher?

-What do you think about practice?

Often times the interview it is the first time that an adult is showing interest in the child directly.

Have the student play something. Determining what the student can do. Strengths, weaknesses and sense of level.

Keep some distance. Always compliment the student- find something positive to say.

Never criticize the previous teacher.

Have them play a piece finished and almost finished, and halfway there.

Gives opportunity to do a little bit of teaching (only in the almost finished and/or halfway there)- see how they respond to something new. Have you ever considered…

Ask theory, technique etc.. ?’s, clap backs

Does their technique support the piece?

Sight-read- err to the low side


No matter what you did in the interview, you still don’t know what the student is totally capable of, level they are in, etc… until you had a few lessons with them.

Use their materials first for a few weeks to gage where they are before transferring them to other materials.

Give ego pieces- sound hard but easy to play.

Monitor student satisfaction, self esteem, and motivation.

Doesn’t polish every piece, intermediate level you polish more.

1st-2nd week- you improve a lot

3rd-4th week- still improve

after 4th- polishing


Do you do interviews before taking on students? I always do.  They can last anywhere from 30-60 min. but they are ALWAYS worth my time doing. When I meet with students for the first time I go through an evaluation process that will allow me to see where students are at. I have these evaluation forms available in my TpT store here. I have 3 versions. Early Childhood, Beginner and Transfer students.

1 Comment

  1. Leigh Stringfield

    Perfect timing! I have student interviews next week to start my studio up again in a new city. Leigh Stringfield


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