Landing a position as a music teacher can take several rounds of interviews, so it is essential that you prepare for various questions that you may be asked. Here’s a look at the top 40 most common and impactful questions you’ll have to answer during the interview process. Preparing for questions like these can help you secure your ideal job as a music teacher. Just be sure to adjust the sample answers we’ve given here with your background and experiences.
1. What are your qualifications for this position?
Being a teacher in any subject requires some level of qualification, and music is no exception – in many ways, the threshold is higher. For this question, you’ll need to give the highlights of your educational background, as well as your teaching experience. You could also talk about your music experience outside the classroom, including any performance groups you have joined.
I received degrees in Choral Performance and Music Education from the Beechwood Music Institute and have spent the last ten years as a music faculty member at Callison State University. I have led several choral groups at national conferences and was recognized by Maestro Monthly for my work with a symphonic performance at the collegiate level. In addition to teaching, I have performed with the Ozark Community Chorus for the past five years.
2. Why do you want to be a music teacher?
This is one of the most critical questions that an interviewer will ask to assess you as a candidate. Being a highly motivated teacher is vital. The school will want to know that you are fully committed to the role and prepared to do whatever it takes to help its program succeed.
I have always had a passion for music, and I believe that every student can find expression through music in some way. I think it is essential to help students give back to their community through performance and that music can enrich their life experience in meaningful ways.
3. What are your musical influences?
Some schools may have a style or era of music they are known for and will look for candidates that match that profile. For example, if a school is known for classical choral performance, they may not consider someone with a background exclusively in modern music. Don’t discount yourself if you feel you are not a match. Be honest with your background and how you think your experience fits with the school.
I have resonated strongly with the Romantic era of music, but my favorite composers are Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner. I find that I connect with music that creates a sweeping atmosphere of emotion, and I love the experience of getting caught up in performing a grand and booming piece. I have both performed in and conducted productions of The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. It is my absolute favorite piece. The progression of the story and the feeling throughout the piece is simply majestic.
4. How would you balance classical music with modern pieces?
All styles of music are needed to create a well-rounded music student, and the interviewer will probably want to ensure that students receive a thorough and balanced music education.
I would incorporate a rich musical history into my lesson plans and make sure that students are exposed to many different eras of music, from classical to modern. This would include orchestral music, choral pieces, jazz, and modern popular music. It would also let students figure out which style or instrument fits them best, which will help them express themselves better as a performer.
5. Describe a successful lesson you planned. Why was it successful?
Music teachers have an influential role in shaping their students, and that starts with a well-structured lesson plan. This may not be limited to time in class before the bell rings – some schools may expect you to keep office hours after school, provide tutoring lessons, and offer intensive options to high performers as well as students who have trouble learning. For this question, you could combine any number of these elements into describing your ideal lesson plan.
I always start the school year with a combined choral and orchestral concert and spend the first three weeks of every class making sure that every student is paired with the right instrument and position. Regardless of their prior experience, everyone performs the same audition piece, and I assess each student’s performance for both technical proficiency and artistic expression. Once this is done, we get to my favorite lesson to teach, which is the first run-through of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. This is a well-known piece that lets me see where students both shine and struggle and can help me assess what each group’s strengths and weaknesses are.
6. How would you work with differing ability levels?
No two students are alike. Some may be naturals in their chosen instrument, and some may require extra tutoring. This question might be linked to lesson planning or student recruitment since you will likely be working with at least one student per year who has never performed before. Be ready to talk about all areas of the ability spectrum.
Those who demonstrate higher levels of ability are assigned more complex solos or parts, or may be asked to help tutor other students. Expert students may also be asked to take on extra performances, or to prepare for national competitions if they have particular goals in music. I also will make time to support students who struggle with their assigned parts, and will be willing to make changes as necessary. Flexibility and patience are key, because each and every student has the potential to succeed if they are given the opportunity.
7. How important is it to you for other faculty members to support the program?
Students will need to make a commitment to the music program that may take them out of regular classes or cause potential conflicts throughout the year, so getting buy-in from other teachers will be critical. Explain how you would proactively talk with other faculty members to come to an arrangement that makes everyone happy.
Before students return at the beginning of each year, I try to talk with each department head to see if they have any thoughts about their project and exam schedule. I will also talk with athletic directors and coaches to receive their tentative schedules for the coming year and will try my best to schedule performances around those other needs. Where there is a conflict or where certain dates are firmer on the music calendar, I make that clear at the outset and find ways to work with teachers and coaches to ensure that students can fully participate in this program.
8. Do you believe that all students can learn music, or should learn music?
This is one of the most important questions a teacher can answer and can reveal powerful things about your own teaching philosophy. Be thoughtful in how you prepare this answer.
Music is essential for every single person, and learning at least how to appreciate music is so vital for young learners. Giving students the opportunity to perform either through singing or playing an instrument gives them a healthy outlet for expression, and whether a student is a musical prodigy with one instrument or struggles after ten different auditions, I believe that it’s possible to find the right fit for everyone who wants to perform.
9. To you, what is the best outcome for students in your program?
This question also speaks to your teaching philosophy and explains what you see as your goals for the program.
I know this school has a history of producing nationally recognized vocalists. I have followed success stories from this school that have gone on to Juilliard, Florida State, and other major programs across the country, and I am excited to contribute to the success of this program. For those students who seek this kind of outcome for their musical education, I will make sure to prepare them for this kind of success. However, it takes all kinds of students to make a successful music program, and I will also ensure that every student has the chance to not only earn a good grade, but also find a deeper love and appreciation for music in their lives.
10. How would you handle a student scheduling conflict with athletics or another school-related commitment?
Whether you want to teach at the high school or collegiate level, there will inevitably be times where athletics or other commitments come into conflict with your performance schedule. Whatever your philosophy on resolving this kind of conflict, be clear and direct about your expectations.
I believe that making a commitment to the music program is important. Before students finalize their schedules, they are given the full concert schedule and are expected to clear those dates with their coaches and teachers. I let students know that they are responsible for attending each and every date on that schedule. If there are extenuating circumstances, I will talk with the coach or teacher, but students know upfront that they are expected to make our program a priority.
Next 30 Most Asked Music Teacher Interview Questions
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you know about our institution?
- What professional development have you been engaged in recently?
- What motivates you to be a teacher?
- Why do you want to teach here?
- Who was your favorite music teacher, and why?
- How do you cope with stress?
- How do you keep up with current trends in music and education?
- How familiar are you with music software?
- How would you integrate technology into your instruction?
- How would you link your music lessons to other subjects?
- Tell us some pieces you would include in a sample concert program, and why.
- How many concerts do you envision putting on in a year?
- What instruments do you play or have experience with?
- Describe your leadership style.
- How do you deal with classroom discipline?
- How will you control behavior in larger groups/classes?
- How would you involve parents in the program?
- How do you plan on creating an exciting and engaging classroom environment?
- Describe your concept of how music fits into an education curriculum.
- Describe your experience working with students in special education.
- How do you feel about competition?
- Talk about your ideal classroom atmosphere.
- How would your current students describe you?
- How would you deal with parent complaints?
- How would you recruit new students to the program?
- What are the most common problems for beginning performers, and how would you overcome them?
- How do you feel about written music versus improvisation?
10 Best Questions to Ask in a Music Teacher Interview
Here are 10 sample questions you can have prepared to ask at the end of your interview. Most interviewers will offer you the chance to ask your own questions, which is a great way for you to “interview” the school itself and see if it is a good fit for you. Asking questions also gives you a chance to discuss any concerns you still have after the interviewer has finished asking questions.
- What are the school’s goals for the music program over the next five years?
- How many classes are currently offered?
- What kind of teaching and rehearsal space is available?
- What is the program budget?
- How is the music class schedule structured?
- What will my extracurricular duties be?
- What technology resources will this position have access to?
- Is there a district-wide music curriculum?
- What are the school’s current policies on music requirements for graduation?
- How much travel is expected in this position for recruiting, events, performances, etc.?
Being a music teacher can be incredibly fulfilling, but first, you’ll have to master your initial interviews. By reviewing questions like these and preparing your answers ahead of time, you’ll be well-prepared to handle anything your future boss could throw your way.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.