Teaching guitar for a living can be a highly profitable profession to get into once you learn how to effectively run your business. The problem is, most guitar teachers will give you bad advice that can potentially ruin your chances of ever achieving anything significant. Here are some little known truths about teaching guitar lessons as a primary income:
1. Many guitar instructors have a hard time making ends meet in their guitar teaching business and make less than 35k annually.
2. Most people who teach guitar have no experience teaching highly skilled students.
3. The overwhelming majority of guitar teachers achieve little success and only teach for 1-2 years before quitting to work in a different profession altogether.
With this in mind, consider the difference between the above group of unsuccessful guitar teachers and the very small group of highly successful guitar teachers (making up the top 1%). These successful guitar teachers:
1. Make a minimum of 6 figures each year in their guitar teaching businesses.
2. Quickly turn their guitar students from mediocre players to highly skilled players.
3. Are able to add extra value for their students because they have extra time, energy and resources to put into their guitar instruction.
4. Generally work no more than part time hours every week.
At first, most people are shocked to hear about the above points. As someone who has trained countless people to develop successful guitar teaching businesses (by joining the elite top 1% club), I know all of these things to be true.
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. Lowering Your Lesson Rates In Order To Compete With Other Guitar Teachers
While giving lessons in a town or city with heavy competition from other guitar teachers, it is natural to think that lowering your lesson rates will give more potential students a chance to work with you. If you are considering this approach, chances are you think that giving cheaper lessons will make you stand out from the more ‘expensive’ guitar teachers in your area. You may have even heard students complain about not wanting to spend a lot of money on guitar lessons and allowed this to affect your judgment. However, in the end this approach will backfire on you. Here’s why:
- By charging much less for your lessons, you are giving the ‘wrong’ signal to serious prospective guitar students. The truth is, many students will see that you are very cheap and assume that it is because you are not very good or are new to teaching guitar. In response, these (serious) students will ignore you and look for a different teacher who can get them the results they want in less time (even if that teacher is more expensive ‘per lesson’). Fact is, most people believe in the old saying “you get what you pay for”.
- When you start teaching guitar while charging very cheap rates, your students will see this and think that all guitar teachers are the same (except for the price they charge for lessons). This (of course) is totally false. However, you must take this into consideration when determining your lesson rates. If you charge cheap rates from the beginning, it will only be more difficult to raise them in the future after you have conditioned your students to think that all teachers are the same.
- 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 hold you back from ever reaching significant success as a guitar teacher.
So how can you solve this issue and how much SHOULD you charge for guitar lessons? Always make sure that you charge a ‘minimum’ of the average price in your local area (even if you are just getting started). Next, work to make your guitar lessons as valuable as possible in order to transform your students into great guitar players very quickly. Once you can do this, you gain the leverage to raise your rates and have a justified reason for doing so. Learn how to MASSIVELY grow your guitar teaching business and dominate your competition with effective online guitar teacher training.
2. ‘Only’ Focusing On Attracting New Guitar Students
When you first begin teaching guitar, you obviously need to find new students. With this in mind, it is easy for most guitar teachers to ‘only’ think about attracting new students while ignoring all other aspects of their guitar teaching business. This approach will present you with these problems:
- 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.
3. Always Showing Your Guitar Students Anything They Want To Learn
Many guitar teachers are in the habit of asking their students what they want to learn each time they take lessons. They believe that it is the responsibility of the student to tell the teacher what they need to work on. This is TOTALLY untrue. Consider this: if your guitar students actually knew what they needed to work on, wouldn’t they have already done it themselves and reached their guitar playing goals? The truth is that most guitar students are clueless about what they ‘should’ be working on to get better (this is why they came to you in the first place). It is not the student’s responsibility to figure this out, it is yours. You must always learn the student’s ‘long term goals’ up front and design an effective strategy to help them reach these goals. Additionally, you need to help your guitar students understand specifically WHY the things you teach them are both what they ‘need’ and ‘want’ to learn.
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.
4. Making Changes To Your Guitar Teaching Business Based Only On What Other Local Teachers Are Doing
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.
Rather than doing this, you should find a tight group of successful guitar teachers who are willing to share their insights with you. Of course, you will not be able to find such a group in your local area (obviously your competitors are not going to share their ideas with you). To find a network of successful guitar teachers who are willing to discuss their secrets with you, you will need to contact teachers who are ‘not’ living in the same area as you.
The guitar instructors who take part in my guitar teaching program work as a strong network to share insights and secrets about how they have successfully grown their guitar teaching businesses (this stuff is never revealed to people outside of the program).
5. Not Being Able To Say ‘No’ To Your Students
One of the biggest downfalls for most guitar teachers is that they do not enforce their teaching policies because they are afraid that it will cause them to lose students. In reality, failing to create and enforce a strong policy will eventually cause your guitar teaching business to fail. Here’s why:
A. This attracts guitar students who are not serious about learning. This means you will have to deal with students who are consistently late, do not pay on time and do not practice like they are supposed to.
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.
So what is a solution to this problem? Understand that ‘you’ know much more about what your students need to learn (regarding music/guitar) than they do. Develop your teaching policy based around this. Then make sure that your students understand your expectations and why following your policy is in their best interest. If they try to get you to change your policy, refuse to teach them (in other words… ‘fire’ them as students).
6. Becoming A Guitar Teacher At A Music Store
It is a very common belief among new guitar teachers that working at a music store is the best choice for making a good living because:
A. They do not have to find students by themselves. The music store does all the work.
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’. In the end, it is up to you to learn to most effective strategies for attracting guitar students.
- 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.
- To make things worse, music stores generally are very strict about the teaching formats they allow. In many cases, you are limited to teaching only private 1 on 1 lessons and not allowed to help your guitar students progress faster using other formats. This makes it harder to get big results for your students.
- Since you can’t get great results for your students, it will be very difficult to develop the positive reputation needed to grow your guitar teaching business to the next level.
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. Promoting Yourself As A ‘General’ Guitar Teacher
Another misconception that most guitar teachers have is that you should try to reach as many students as possible through a highly generalized marketing approach. These teachers promote themselves by saying they teach in ‘any’ style.
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.
When you gain a schedule full of students who aren’t very serious about learning guitar, you WILL become frustrated from endless cancelled lessons, late payments and other issues. Although these problems are only partially related to the topic of becoming a ‘general’ guitar teacher, they are fully caused by it and will hold you back from earning a living as a successful guitar teacher.
That being said, don’t make the mistake of choosing such a narrow niche that there are no guitar students who are interested in the style you teach. The main point is you will be much more successful if you market your guitar lessons as ‘rock’ guitar lessons (or blues, jazz, etc.) than if you simply market yourself as a general guitar teacher.
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.
In order to achieve success in your guitar teaching career, you must get effective online guitar teacher training so you can find solutions for the problems that keep you from reaching your full potential. Once you understand what needs to be fixed, you will then be prepared to take any necessary actions to grow your guitar teaching business and earn more income from it than you ever thought possible!