Notes from a Master Class on College Teaching Jobs

Continuing in this series of master class notes (part 1 is here), here are some ideas from a class I attended in doctoral school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The presenter was John Stevens, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium, and Director of the School of Music at UW. Professor Stevens was on my doctoral committee, and his ideas about college job searches – and many other things – were very helpful.
College Job Search Master Class with John Stevens, The University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Three types of positions for a typical job search: tenure track (usually at the Assistant Professor level), staff/instructor (still fairly long-term, but not tenure track), and interim (1 year)
  • Search committee is usually comprised of people inside and outside of your area.
  • The search committee will formulate the job description and advertise in several places, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, College Music Society, and possibly in a flyer sent to music schools. [My note: see the bottom of this page for a list of places where positions are advertised.]
  • The committee reviews all the applications, and typically narrows the list to 10 or 15 candidates. At this point they may request a recording, and further narrow the pool down to 3 or 4 finalists.
  • Finalists for the position are invited to campus for a visit, usually 1 1/2 to 2 days. While on campus the finalists will perform a recital, conduct a master class, and meet with the search committee, director of the school, and dean(s) of the college.
  • The search committee wants to assess your playing and teaching, and find out if you will make a good colleague.
  • For the audition recital choose repertoire that an accompanist can play. Show a range of styles, including standard repertoire as well as pieces which are a specialty for you. Don’t present yourself as something you aren’t.
  • Make it clear that you want the job, without seeming desperate.
  • Ask plenty of questions. The interview process is two-way.
  • Gear your questions to express enthusiasm. You want to show that you are going to fit in, and also be able to make a difference in their school.
  • Don’t ask about salary, retirement, etc. at the interview.
  • Try not to be too paranoid about normal conversation, and try to assess whether the search committee is happy or unhappy with the status quo.
  • Show the committee that you are a person with whom others will want to work.
  • The search process is not finished until the job has been offered and accepted in writing.
  • Once an offer has been made, determine how much room there is for negotiation. Are you operating from a position of strength?  Have a bottom line salary in mind, as well as other aspects of the job situation (moving expenses, etc.) The dean or director usually has the final say on a new hire.

In addition to the above advice, I also highly recommend The Academic Job Search Handbook  and The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career.  These books elaborate and expand on the suggestions given by Professor Stevens, and include detailed information on writing cover letters, preparing your curriculum vitae, and interviewing.

Coming up on Friday, notes from a master class on performance anxiety with David Sternbach.

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Auditions, Teaching

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