Why You Should Forget About Most Common Guitar Teacher Advice
Why You Should Forget About Most Common Guitar Teacher Advice
By Tom Hess
Are you tired of earning only a small amount of income from guitar teaching? Wish you had a schedule full of motivated students? Unsure about what you need to do to grow your guitar instruction business? Truth is, most guitar teachers never become successful, nor do they earn a lot of money. However, ALL teachers have the potential to do so. Here are some sobering truths about the current state of the guitar teaching business:
1. Many guitar instructors have a hard time making ends meet in their guitar teaching business and make less than 35k annually.
2. Most of these same guitar teachers have never helped any students to become GREAT guitar players.
3. Guitar teachers frequently report working excessive hours while making little pay.
On the other hand, there exists a small percentage of highly successful guitar teachers who:
1. Make a minimum of 6 figures each year in their guitar teaching businesses.
2. Have strategic systems in place to quickly transform their students into great guitar players.
3. Are highly motivated and have plenty of extra time, energy and resources to invest into the improvement of their guitar teaching businesses.
4. Commonly do not work full time hours each week (they work much less).
Although most people find these facts surprising, I know for sure that they are a reality for countless guitar teachers around the world. How do I know this? In my guitar teacher training program, I train people every month to reach their full potential and become part of the small percentage of highly successful guitar teachers.
Additionally, the majority of guitar teachers out there do not fail because they are necessarily ‘bad’ at teaching guitar. Instead, they fail because they believe in the ‘common knowledge’ they have heard being perpetuated by other unsuccessful guitar teachers. These approaches seem rational at first glance, but in fact are highly damaging for your guitar teaching business in many ways.
Here are seven commonly accepted guitar teaching approaches that guarantee failure:
1. Not Enforcing Your Lesson Policies
Most guitar teachers who are new have a fear that enforcing their lesson policies will cause them to lose their students. The truth is, this may help you retain a few students for a short period of time, but will be devastating for your guitar teaching business in the long term. Here is why:
A. By not enforcing your lesson policies, you will build up a student base full of non-serious students who will continually frustrate you by being late to lessons, not paying on time and not taking lessons seriously.
B. Due to the above point, you will use all of your energy on ‘non-serious’ students and have little left to spare for the SERIOUS students who really do want to learn, pay on time and practice every day.
C. You will spend much less time teaching your students to become great musicians and much more time accommodating them with makeup lessons and chasing down late payments. This will lead your students to make very little progress while you make a smaller income and quickly become tired of working as a guitar teacher.
Here is how you solve this issue: Remember, YOU are the teacher and YOU understand what is best for your guitar students. Create your lesson policy and expectations based on this understanding and make sure that your students know exactly why this policy will help them become much better players. If they do not comply, do not teach them (that’s right, refuse to work with them).
2. Letting Your Guitar Students Tell You What They Need To Learn
Most guitar teachers make the mistake of assuming that it is up to the student to tell the teacher what they need to learn each lesson. This assumption is totally wrong and makes no sense at all. Your guitar students (for the most part) have absolutely no idea what they need to learn in order to reach their musical goals. If they did know, why would they come to you for guitar lessons? …They wouldn’t of course. YOU must decide what your students need to learn in order to achieve their musical goals. To do this you must perform two simple steps: First, learn their long terms goals. Second, design a specific strategy for them based around these goals while also helping them to understand how what you will teach them IS in their best interest.
Your guitar students will never become great players if you allow them to tell you what to teach them. At most, they will be able to play a few isolated ideas but will never be able to put it all together to become a great musician. In most cases, if you teach guitar using this approach, you will quickly lose your students when they do not start seeing big results.
To make matters worse, you will be damaging your reputation when you do not get the results that your students want. This will make it very hard to sustain a successful guitar teaching business in your local area.
3. Using All Of Your Promotional Efforts To Bring In ‘New’ Students
Most people assume that searching for new students is the most important part of promoting their guitar teaching business. Of course, understanding how to attract new students is very important. However, if this is the only factor you consider while trying to build your guitar teaching business, you will quickly come across these issues:
- Since you do not have a solid strategy for ‘keeping’ your students, you must invest countless hours into your promotional efforts due to the fact that the new students you gain only replace the ones you lost.
- You will only make slow progress at best to build your guitar teaching business (even if you get more new students than you lose current ones). However, you can achieve much faster growth by working in several different areas simultaneously, such as: student retention, student referrals and converting potential students into actual students.
Following this approach WILL prevent you from making a lot of money through guitar teaching (especially during difficult economic times)
Fortunately, you can avoid these problems by making an effort to consistently improve in ALL areas of your guitar teaching business. By doing this, your business will improve exponentially and the amount of effort needed for major growth with decrease over time.
4. Copying The Ideas Of Other Guitar Teachers In Your Area
As a new guitar teacher, you will naturally be inclined to look at what your competitors are doing and try to use this information to build your guitar teaching business. However, as you read earlier in this article, the overwhelming majority of guitar teachers are unsuccessful. With this in mind, it makes no sense for you to try to copy the same things they are doing.
Instead of following what other local guitar teachers do while taking a trial-and-error approach, you should surround yourself with successful guitar teachers who are already making good money in their teaching businesses. Of course, no teacher in your local area is going to want to share his/her secrets with you (since you are competing with each other) so your network must be made up of guitar teachers who do not compete with you locally.
Anyone who works with me in my online guitar teaching improvement program also becomes part of a tight network of successful and experience guitar teachers from around the world.
5. Lowering Your Lesson Rates In Order To Compete With Other Guitar Teachers
Many guitar teachers think that charging less money for lessons is a great way to attract many new guitar students. They think that guitar students will rush to sign up for lessons because the other competitors in their local area are too expensive for them. You might think that this would help you stand out from the competition in a positive way. However, in reality it is totally the opposite. Here’s why charging cheap rates will lead you to failure:
- The fact that you charge very cheap rates for lessons tells potential students that you are either new to teaching guitar or are not very good at it. In fact, most students assume that teachers with higher priced lessons charge more because they can get better results. So by charging a small amount for your lessons, you are really only driving away serious students (who are ready to spend money). The more serious a student is, the less likely they are to even think about taking lessons with you when you are the cheapest guitar teacher in town.
- When you charge cheap rates for lessons from the beginning, this tells potential students that the only difference from one guitar teacher to the next is the ‘price’ (which is totally untrue, although many students think this). With this in mind, it will be very difficult for you to raise your teaching rates in the future. You will be locked into the false perception you created in the mind of your students and will never be able to make as much money as you want.
- When you gain new guitar students who were only looking for the ‘cheapest’ teacher, they will take lessons with you much less seriously. You will quickly find that these types of students do not practice or put out much effort because they do not feel like they are getting much value in return (based on how much they are spending). The more a student has to spend for lessons, the more seriously they will take it.
All of these issues will combine together to weigh you down and keep you from ever making good money teaching guitar.
To keep these things from ruining your guitar teaching business, charge at least the average lesson cost in your local area (regardless of your current teaching experience). Next, work on becoming a great teacher and turning your students into highly skilled guitar players. Once you can successfully do this, you can easily justify charging much more than your competitors. Work together with a guitar teaching coach and become a highly successful guitar teacher.
6. Giving Guitar Lessons At A Local Music Store
Many guitar teachers think that it is easier to teach at a music store (rather than on their own) and make good money because:
A. They will have to do less work to find new students since the music store will do this for them.
B. They feel it is more professional to work from a music store instead of working out of their own home.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is why teaching guitar from a music store will cause you to fail:
- It is simply not true that music stores will do all of the promotional work for you. In reality, they do not have a strong incentive to get students specifically for ‘you’. It’s up to you to learn where to find new guitar students through your own efforts in order to fill up your teaching schedule.
- Additionally, you make less money when you work from a music store because you must give a large percentage of your earnings to the owner. This makes it more challenging to earn a good living as a guitar teacher.
- In addition to the above issues, the majority of music stores out there will not let you teach guitar using effective formats that are better for getting quick results for your students (you are usually limited to private lessons only). This makes it even harder for you to turn your students into truly great guitar players.
- Considering that you will be limited in the results you can get for your students, it will become even harder to build a solid reputation for yourself as a great guitar teacher and grow your teaching business.
The most successful and highest earning guitar teachers never teach out of music stores. Instead, they run their own business and hire other guitar teachers to work for them. If you want to make a great living teaching guitar, you must treat it like a business and learn all you can in order to improve every aspect of it.
7. Not Marketing Your Guitar Lessons To A Specific Group Of Players
Contrary to popular belief, marketing yourself as a guitar teacher who teaches ‘all styles’ is NOT helpful for your teaching business.
The truth is, promoting yourself in this manner will mostly attract students who aren’t very serious about guitar lessons and/or don’t know what they want to play on guitar. These types of students are likely to not take practice seriously, only take lessons for a short period of time and will not be very cooperative with your lesson policies.
On the other hand, the greatest guitar students (who you want to work with) are always looking for a teacher who specializes in a specific niche because they know what they want to play and invest the time to look for someone who can help them play it.
It is crucial to understand that you will not be able to make a living as a guitar teacher if you have a schedule full of casual, non-serious students. These students will only cause you to waste time as you put up with endless lesson cancellations, missing payments and other issues. Even though these problems are only ‘partially’ related to the issue of marketing yourself to ‘all styles’, they are entirely CAUSED by it and will keep you from becoming financially successful as a guitar teacher.
With this in mind, you don’t want to become an expert for a style of music that no guitar student wants to learn. Nevertheless, you will see much more success by marketing yourself as the local ‘blues’ guitar expert (or ‘rock’, ‘metal’, ‘jazz’, etc.) instead of allowing yourself to blend in with your competitors as a teacher to ‘all styles’.
Overall, understand that making a good living as a guitar teacher is not the same as simply having a lot of students. Not only must you fill up your teaching schedule, but you must fill it up with the ‘right’ students. These are the students who will quickly make progress, stay with you for many years and help you develop a positive reputation as the best teacher in your location.
Although I have not discussed ‘all’ of the things that cause guitar teachers to fail, after reading the points above you have gained a better understanding of why most commonly accepted guitar teaching approaches are actually ineffective and problematic.
Get guitar teacher mentoring and learn how to overcome the problems that keep you from earning good money with your guitar lessons. Once you do this, you will quickly rise to the top and become the most in-demand guitar teacher in your area.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He helps people from all over the world learn how to successfully teach guitar. Find tons of free pro guitar teaching advice plus tips on becoming a better guitar teacher on his music instruction website.