12 easy things you can do to increase your chances of winning a college teaching job*
*-subtitled- “If you don’t do these things, don’t wonder why you didn’t get hired.”
1. Learn to play your instrument well.
How can you expect to be hired to teach at an institution if you cannot demonstrate the playing at the highest level? You must be able to play better than your students.
2. Learn as much repertoire as you can.
You will have to teach a wide variety of repertoire. The best way to be able to teach it effectively is to perform it yourself. Create performance opportunities for yourself as a vehicle to learn repertoire.
3. Have a demo tape ready at all times.
You never know when a vacancy will occur. It is important to have a representative recording of your playing ready to go for any position that may become available. Have a library of recordings to draw from.
4. Learn proper grammar and spelling.
Nothing will turn off a committee more quickly than poor spelling. The use of proper spelling and grammar reflect an image of an educated person, i.e. a person who is qualified to teach at a college or university.
5. Spend years collecting articles and information about your subject.
One never knows when an article in this month’s Instrumentalist magazine will come in useful. There are many, many online resources but you need to remember where to find what. Print it out and file it when you see it…it may disappear tomorrow.
6. Be prompt, neat and polite with all correspondence.
Whether it be by email, snail mail or telephone, show your interest and respect by presenting impeccable correspondence. Every act of communication you engage in is part of your interview/audition for the job. If you are rude to the receptionist, the committee will hear about it. A letter of thanks after the interview is a good idea. After all, they took time out of their busy academic schedule to spend time with you.
7. Present yourself positively and honestly.
If you say anything just to get the job, you will most likely not be happy if you get it. Be honest when answering questions about your background. Keep your resume honest.
8. Create teaching opportunities for yourself.
Elements of successful teaching can be learned from teaching students of all ages. Accept every opportunity to learn how to teach. Teach at summer camps. Start a private lesson studio. Do whatever you can to develop your teaching art.
9. Stay active in the performing arena.
Give recitals (record them for possible demo use). Play in bands, orchestras or chamber groups. It is a great way to keep your skills up and demonstrate to a search committee that you are truly dedicated to the art of music.
10. Dress appropriately for your interview.
Look nice. Yes, wear a tie to all official events. Remember that you are on display from the minute you arrive to your prospective town. Look nice from the time you get off of the plane until you set foot back in your house.
11. Find out as much information as you can prior to the interview.
Why is there a vacancy? What is the demographic of the search committee? What is the philosophy of the institution? What is the background of your potential colleagues? What is the ballpark salary?
12. Develop a network of communication with people who are doing what you want to be doing.
Learn what worked for them. Learn what the job is really like. The more you know, the more likely you will be able to develop your skills to a level appropriate to the level you are seeking.