Conferences, Professional Development

NCKP 2011 | (2) Developing from Student to Professional (Panel Discussion)

After attending the mass Keynote Address, I headed to the sessions for the pre-conference track called, “Students and Young Professionals.”  It began with a panel discussion moderated by Martha Hilley.

Developing from Student to Professional: A Practical Overview, moderated by Martha Hilley.

The were 4 contributors, who each spoke on a topic.

1. Practical Networking: I know why, when, and where — now tell me how, by Courtney Crappell.

Dr. Crappell discussed practical networking.  The key to successful networking is to be genuinely interested in other people!  We sometimes tend to be self-centered, especially in places with new people like conferences.

Another key to successful networking is in the preparation.  This requires some thought in advance: how do you want to market yourself?  Create an elevator pitch that talkes about your goal as a piano teacher.  It should be something short but intriguing that could start a conversation.  An elevator speech contains a problem, solution, and a personal role.

Presentation is also important, but perhaps even more so is the follow-through.  Make sure you have business cards with you at all times so you can easily exchange information with others.  As you meet new people, you can even write things on their business cards afterwards to help you remember who’s who.  And send people an email after you meet them.  You never know what kind of opportunities may arise in the future just from having some connections with other people.  Networking is important! 

2. The Young Professional in Academia, by Lesley McAllister.

For those students who are looking for a future in academia (getting a college job), it’s important to set goals even while still a student.  Successful people are known for setting and living into their goals from early stages.  Goals require some soul-searching.  We are all in service of music, and we all have a place!

If a university job is your goal, there are some resources to be aware of.

To get a college position, you will also need to create a Curriculum Vita — a longer and more detailed form of a resume.  Some of the sections of a C.V. include: Education, Teaching Experience, Honors & Awards, Professional Associations, Performances, and Lecture Recitals.

Another important document to create is a cover letter.  Every time you apply for a position, you should tailor it towards the job you are applying to.  You need to show your unique qualifications, explain why you are interested in the position, and show that you researched the institution and specific job position.

Once you are in a college position, you may be interested in pursuing tenure.  In order to do so, you will need to create a binder documenting certain areas of service and accomplishments.  Although it differs from institution to institution, many institutions use these four areas: scholarship (research/publications), teaching (often based on student evaluations), collegiality (getting along with colleagues), and service (to organizations/on committees).

3. Help! They want to see me teach!, by L. Scott Donald.

This session was filled with practical information about creating videos of your teaching, which are useful for applying for teaching jobs at community music schools.  (Note: This is also very useful information for anyone applying to become a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through MTNA!)

What makes for a successful video:

  • Compile shorter, goal-oriented segments rather than a long 30-minute lesson.
  • Be sure that the musical or technical goal is actually achieved in the video!
  • Pay attention to details: be sure room is tidy, all needed materials are ready, you are dressed up, and the camera angle shows both the teacher’s and student’s faces.
  • Show student-centered, engaged teaching.
  • Don’t just sit there!  Try standing up during teaching.  Be dynamic.
  • Be sure to speak directly to the student.  Look into their eyes.  Don’t speak to the score or the piano.  :)
  • “Teaching is not telling!” – Frances Clark.  “Tellers belong in banks behind bars!”  Be sure the student is playing and talking during the lesson too.
  • Make sure there is a significant musical moment in every lesson…and every video segment.  And truly celebrate this moment!  The purpose of this video is to compel an employer to want to hire you.
  • Be sure to get feedback about your video from another person before you send it.
Dr. Donald recommended 25-30 minutes of video, including some slides of text that briefly state the student’s age, level, and years of study.  He also recommended using a service like YouTube to share your video (you can even make it accessible only from direct links if you want to keep it private from the world) rather than a CD, just because it’s so convenient for everyone that way.  What great practical advice!

4. From First Impressions to Lasting Relationships: An Exploration of Professionalism with a Focus on Pre-college Teaching, by Amy Glennon/Scott Donald.

Amy Glennon unfortunately had a her flight canceled by the airport and was unable to get to the conference in time to do her presentation, so Dr. Donald kindly talked through her slide show presentation for us.

Professionalism in pre-college teaching is very much about relationships.  It’s important to build trust between the teacher and the students/parents.  Here are some ways to do just that:

  1. Excellent teaching – through an individualized plan for the student, through high standards, and through building good habits.
  2. Be sure to communicate a sense that you care about and like the student.
  3. Use a student-centered approach.
  4. Excellent communication skills.
  5. Provide reliable instruction – start and end lessons on time, and only reschedule lessons in an emergency.
Professionalism also involved maintaining relationships with co-workers and supervisors is you are in a community music school setting.  This means being a “team player,” initiating projects, and not hesitating to ask questions or solve problems.

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This is all wonderful advice to receive from a wonderful group of experienced professionals, so willing to share!

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