A New Student Interview is Like a First Date: How I Know When a Student is Not “The Right Fit”

A new student interview is a lot like a first date. You correspond a bit by email. You arrange to meet in person. You talk over coffee (or maybe an instrument) for a while. You go home and evaluate everything that happened. You decide whether or not you want to see the person again.

In the dating world, people search for “Mr. or Mrs. Right.” In the teaching world, you hear teachers talk about finding students who are “the right fit.” But what does that actually mean?

I thought I would share a story that might shed some light on the process of finding the elusive “right student” in real life.

A Tale of Two Students

I’ve been reflecting on two new student interviews that couldn’t have been more different from each other. Here’s how they went:

Student 1

This student was engaged and inquisitive. She eagerly followed instructions and we had a good rapport. She seemed to take joy in the process of learning and seemed like a fun kid to be around week after week. I left this lesson smiling and energized. 

Student 2

This student seemed moderately interest in the piano itself, but much less interested in anything I had to say about it. Her boredom expressed itself by her lying down on the piano bench about ten minutes into the lesson and only reluctantly dragging herself across the room when I suggested an off-the-bench game in an effort to capture her interest. I left this lesson feeling dejected and ineffective.

To Teach or Not To Teach

In the case of these two students, it was really obvious which one would be a good fit for my studio. It’s not always this way, but if you leave a new student interview feeling anything less than excited, there’s a good chance that student is not a good fit.

If you’re in a position to not accept the new student, you’ll probably save yourself a lot of frustration down the road. If you are having a hard time turning them down, even though you feel like you should, do a little soul searching to figure out why.

  • Do you feel financial pressure to take the student? (i.e. you’re broke and need to pay rent)
  • Do you feel social pressure to take the student? (i.e. the student is a relative or the friend of a current student)
  • Do you feel career pressure to take the student? (i.e. the student is more advanced and might give you a new teaching experience or credibility)

You may find that the pressure to accept the student is real in your head, but on paper it’s not that compelling.

Your brainstorming may also lead you to another solution to address the pressure point that doesn’t require you to take the student.

Or, you may find that this is one of those harsh times in your entrepreneurial life where you have to suck it up and do that hard or unpleasant thing for a season until another opportunity comes along.


Like a first date, the new student interview is an opportunity to carefully consider whether or not you jive with a new student. Taking time to thoughtfully evaluate the relationship upfront can save you heartache later on.
Also, if you ever find yourself not enjoying teaching, revisit some of these soul searching questions and ask yourself if your studio has any students that you are teaching for the wrong reasons. It might be time to break up with some of them. :\
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