12 Easy Pieces-Teaching

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.

12 Easy Pieces-Playing

12 easy things you can do to increase your chances of winning an orchestral job*

*-subtitled- “If you don’t do these things, don’t complain that you are not advancing in auditions.”

1. Obtain actual parts and scores to audition repertoire.

While excerpt books are an important tool to begin studying the repertoire, it is vital to obtain copies of the actual parts. Additionally, try to familiarize yourself with all the possible editions of a particular work. “Yes, Virginia, there is more than one edition of La Gazza Ladra.” Likewise, examining a score will reveal details that cannot be known through practicing an individual part. Be prepared! Don’t do almost enough.

2. Listen to many different recordings of each work.

This will allow you to discover a “mainstream” interpretation, with regard to tempo, style, dynamics etc. Emulate the best trombone playing and put it into a middle of the road interpretation. If you haven’t listened to a dozen or two recordings of Bolero, you aren’t familiar enough with it. Treat recordings like reference books and refer to them often.

3. Learn the entire work, not just excerpt.

The more you know about the entire work, the better you will be able to communicate your knowledge through your presentation of an excerpt. If you learn the entire work, you will not be caught off guard if the audition committee asks for uncommon passages as “sight-reading.”

4. Play in a trombone quartet regularly to develop sense of section blend.

Playing in a trombone quartet is a very valuable activity when it comes to the section playing round of an audition. It also is a good way to build endurance. The members can also be an excellent resource for feedback regarding your product. Get rid of the ego.

5. Use a metronome, tuner and recording device every day.

Use the recording device to reveal what you really sound like. After discovering the need to work on intonation and rhythm, use the tuner and metronome.

6. Take lessons (either primary or supplemental) from a person who is currently in a major orchestra.

A person who is currently playing in a major orchestra is involved in your target occupation every day. They will give you very valuable feedback concerning your product. In addition, read interviews with orchestral musicians to find out what life is like in the “inside”.

7. Attend live orchestra concerts.

There is no substitute for hearing an orchestra live. Again, this is what you profess to want to do…take the responsibility to learn what it sounds like…LIVE.

8. Get a good warm up in, first thing in the morning.

If you are not warming up before class or work, then you are not dedicated enough. Rest assured that someone else IS. Winning an orchestra job involves dedication and commitment…not merely interest.

9. Play often for others.

Since one gets a job in an orchestra by auditioning (a.k.a. playing for others), the best thing you can do to prepare is to play for others. Get as much feedback as you can stand and remember that the ultimate decisions rest with you.

10. Learn how your body reacts to anxiety and learn how to cope.

Nerves can play an important role on audition day. Learn how you react in stressful playing situations so that audition day nerves are not a surprise.

11. Develop a solid concept of each excerpt and be able to demonstrate.

Every excerpt has an appropriate style. First, learn the correct style and then learn how to present the correct style to the audition committee.

12. Remember the attributes of a player that advances and improve upon each in your own playing.

Great sound, great intonation, great articulation, great style, great control at all dynamic levels, great accuracy, great endurance and great composure.