As you move forward in your guitar teaching career you will naturally have a lot of questions about how to become more successful. However, you will never become a highly successful guitar teacher if you ask the same questions as most teachers. Truth is, most guitar teachers sabotage their own success because they ask questions with incorrect assumptions embedded within them.
As someone who has trained many guitar teachers around the globe, I have answered a massive amount of questions on what it takes to build a successful guitar teaching business. There are countless questions that should NEVER be asked, because they are based on false assumptions and myths about becoming a successful guitar teacher. Even if you are able to find an answer to one of these questions, you will still end up going down the wrong path, eventually to fail in your guitar teaching business. Understanding what these specific questions are and why they are so destructive for your guitar teaching career will help you succeed where most guitar teachers fail. The following are 7 destructive 'common sense' questions that will cause you to fail in your teaching career:
Question #1: What Do I Need To Teach My Students?
Fact is, your guitar students do not begin lessons with you in order for you to 'teach them stuff'. Instead, they come to you to get RESULTS (understanding how to play guitar and make music). This is why the question above will not only be damaging to you, but to your students as well. Everything you teach your guitar students should be based on a strategy that will help them attain the specific results they are looking for.
The majority of guitar teachers focus on giving their students a lot of random 'stuff' in lessons to make themselves feel more like they are doing their job as 'teachers'.
The truth is, helping your students get big results requires using an effective, personalized strategy based on each person's specific goals.
Here is what you should do:
1. Change your perspective from searching for 'things' to teach your students to taking a laser-like focused approach to helping them achieve their own, unique goals.
2. Develop an ability to listen to what you students tell you about their playing and discern the main causes of the struggles they are having. This is just like how you are 'treated' for an ailment after telling your doctor the symptoms you are suffering from.
3. Become efficient at helping your students make process to realize their greatest musical goals.
Question #2: Where Should I Advertise My Guitar Lessons?
This question will greatly limit your opportunity to develop a guitar teaching business for these reasons:
1. There does not exist any 'perfect' place where your advertisements will always be effective in bringing in more business for you. There are tons of ways to effectively market your guitar teaching business and you need to learn them all. This is how you will continually grow your business.
2. When you focus exclusively on a single method of gaining new students, you make your guitar teaching business extremely vulnerable. If you are unable to continually get great results from the single method you chose, your teaching business will crumble very quickly. You MUST diversify your advertising and marketing approaches so that you are not relying on only one all-or-nothing approach at any given time.
Moral of the story: Don't look for a single, best approach to advertising your guitar lessons. Instead, learn how to develop an effective strategy consisting of 'many' approaches in order to expand your business faster in a much safer manner.
Question #3: Asking Your Students: "What Do You Want To Learn Today?"
At first, it may seem logical to ask your guitar students what they would like to learn during each lesson. Fact is, this is an extremely damaging question to ask and it will actually hold your students back from making significant progress. Whenever I help a guitarist choose a teacher to work with, I ALWAYS tell them to avoid teachers who ask them such a question. These are the reasons why:
1. You must remember that YOU are the one who decides what the student should be learning. YOU are the expert - not the student. When you ask the student what they want to learn each lesson, you are basically asking them to do your job for you (something they simply cannot and should not do).
2. That said, of course your students will need to tell you what it is that they would like to learn. However, since they do not have the expertise you have, they are clueless about the process they must go through to get what they really want - Otherwise they would simply do it for themselves without wasting their time and money taking lessons with you. Many times, students will say they want to learn something when it actually takes them further away from their main musical goals (this is why your guidance as a teacher is so critical!).
Do not fall into the trap of expecting your students to figure out what they should be learning.
Question #4: What Should The Price Be For Guitar Lessons?
When you ask yourself this question, you immediately set yourself up for failure because you begin thinking with the mindset that you must 'compete' with the price of other teachers or charge something that is fair in relation to those in your local area. To make matters worse, basing your rates on the rates of everyone else makes your guitar lessons seem like a commodity. This forces potential students to focus ONLY on the cost of lessons, causing them to view your guitar teaching as 'the same thing' offered by any other teacher. This effectively drains all incentive from them to choose you over anyone else in your local community.
On top of this, the question itself assumes that you only have ONE pricing option available to students (in the form of one on one lessons). This is a very limiting approach that is far from reality. Truth is, there are tons of teaching models that can be used that will help you bring great results to your guitar students, expand your teaching business and present many affordable pricing options for your patrons.
The main point is, you must charge for guitar lessons based on the specific benefits you can offer students, not just the average rate in your local area. No one but 'you' decides how much value you offer to the musicians you work with. Rather than trying to find an answer to the question above, focus on becoming a more effective guitar teacher and getting the greatest results for your students. Then raise your prices based on the increasingly better value you offer.
Question #5: How Do I Attract More Students?
Of course you DO need to attract new students on a consistent basis - however, guitar teachers typically (and falsely) believe that getting more new students is the 'only' way for them to grow their income from teaching.
In reality, attracting more guitar students in just one way of earning more money as a guitar teacher. There are tons of other (easier) ways to make more money (and you don't necessarily need to 'raise your rates' either).
Question #6: How Should I Handle Make Up Lessons?
This is a major issue for countless guitar teachers. Most consider this topic to be a very important problem to figure out in order to move their guitar teaching businesses forward. Truth is, if you are contemplating solutions to the question above, you are already heading down the wrong path and setting yourself up for failure. If you talk to any highly successful guitar teachers, they will tell that you should not only NOT teach make up lessons, but you should have absolutely NO cancelation policy at all. There are endless reasons why make up lessons are destructive to your guitar teaching business. Here are just a few:
1. When you work additional hours without getting paid (to 'make up' a lesson), you LOSE money in two fundamental ways: First, you aren't getting paid for the additional slot that is occupied by the student/time being made up. Second, when you work additional time to make up a lesson, you lose time that could be invested into developing your business and gaining more students. This effectively limits your potential growth and ability to earn money teaching guitar (in addition to turning your schedule upside down).
2. Your students will lose respect for you as a guitar teachers when they feel like they can walk all over you and 'show up' to lessons at their own convenience. Even worse, these kinds of students will not feel a need to practice at home or make a lot of improvement. As a result, they will make very slow progress. Eventually, you will end up damaging your reputation as a guitar teacher because word will get around that you have a schedule full of mediocre students who never reach their goals.
So what is the solution? You must require that all of your students pay for every single week of the year regardless of whether or not they decide to show up (with NO make up lessons). This is the same approach used by universities. They have a strict 'no refunds' policy that applies to all students whether they come to class or not. This is also the same policy that highly successful guitar teachers use to earn $100,000+ every year.
Question #7: What Is The Best Way To Advertise Guitar Lessons In A Bad Economy?
This question contains the entirely unfounded assumption that you must utilize different marketing whenever attracting students during a slow economy versus attracting students a booming economy. This dangerous misconception could not be more wrong. If you ever receive advice for this question from another guitar teacher, understand immediately that they do NOT run a highly successful business.
Guitar teachers who achieve the greatest success utilize the same exact approaches to marketing regardless of the state of the economy. When it comes to your marketing approach, it should not matter how well the economy is doing. Instead of wasting your time trying to answer this pointless question, work on finding new ways to develop your business and market your lessons in ANY economy. Then use this approach with high intensity all year long. This is the ONLY way to consistently expand your guitar teaching business while others begin losing students and struggling as the economy shrinks.
As you understand from reading this article, there are many seemingly 'common sense' guitar teaching questions that are actually quite destructive to the growth of your teaching business because they are based on incorrect assumptions.
In order to keep the problems presented in this article from sabotaging your success as a guitar teacher, take action to do these two things right now:
1. Use the resources mentioned throughout this article to find out more information on how to become the best guitar teacher in your community.
2. Alter your current style of thinking and start asking yourself high quality questions within the topics of each of the seven questions above. Then take action to implement the advice I gave to you in order to expand your business to new heights.
By doing these things you will put yourself years ahead of any local competition and will achieve great success as a guitar teacher.