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
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
4. Commonly do not work full time hours each week (they work
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
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
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 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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
- 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.