Searching for a Music Director

Advertising

If you do not have a candidate or candidates in mind, or you wish to promote best practice in equal opportunities, you might be well advised to consider advertising the post.

This can be done in any number of ways, but we would recommend the following:

  • Highnotes The Making Music magazine is published three times a year (in September, January and May) which might make the timing difficult, but it does have a very large circulation and is widely read by the appropriate people. Our newly introduced classified section might be a very useful way of advertising. Please contact Space Marketing on 01892 677740 to advertise in Highnotes.
  • Our Musical Vacancies listings).
  • Classical Music - The national magazine Classical Music, published by Rhinegold on 020 7333 1749 
  • Gig Magazine - The national magazine Gig, published by Impromptu on 0161 236 9526
  • Advertising in your local newspaper
  • Arts Council local offices or on artsjobs.co.uk
  • The music department of your local University.
  • The music department of local Further Education or Secondary School.
  • The website of the Association of British Choral Directors.

Interviewing

You should be prepared to interview a shortlist of up to a dozen candidates, each of which should have a job description sent to them. They need specific details both on paper and during the interview - it may be advisable to have a professional musician on the panel to help with selection.

The following are important points which have helped to make the interviewing process slightly less painful in the past:

  • Use two rooms - one for interviewing, one as a waiting-room
  • Have somebody on duty to welcome candidates
  • Be in a position to offer tea/coffee/juice
  • Aim to have a maximum of 5 on the interview panel - preferably including a professional musician and someone with personnel experience
  • Plan who is chairing the interview
  • Plan some of the questions beforehand
  • Aim to spend between 20 and 45 minutes with each candidate
  • Suggest the length of the contract to be offered
  • Tell candidates a date by which they will hear a result

Auditions

After interviewing candidates, you should certainly hold auditions to see how your shortlisted candidates come across in a real situation. You should offer them as long as your rehearsal schedule will permit, but our advice would be that they will need a minimum of half an hour and preferably longer to establish any kind of rapport with your members. You should probably try to audition no more than 4 or 5 candidates.

Select one piece which your members know well and one which is more challenging, and not so familiar to them, and give the music to the candidates at least a week in advance and preferably longer.

Making the decision

You will probably want to consider the views of your members in the decision process, so you could issue them with a brief questionnaire after each audition, or if you are a reasonably small and coherent group, discuss it at with them at a meeting.

However, the decision to take on the musical director should ultimately be made by your Committee, as they have overall responsibility for the health of the organisation. The Committee should consider the views of the members and the interview panel in reaching its decision.

Finally

Contact the successful candidate as soon as possible, and assuming they accept the offer, write to unsuccessful candidates as soon as is practicable. Confirm the offer in writing. Meanwhile prepare a fixed-term contract (you can use our model contract as the basis for this) with a trial period. We recommend a three-year contract, making use of the first concert as a trial. Put together a press release and obtain a photograph of the new MD.

Finally but importantly - tell your members before they hear it from elsewhere.


We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.