8 Guitar Teaching Mistakes That Hurt Your Income And Limit Your Guitar Students’ Progress

by Tom Hess

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Building a successful guitar teaching business is about knowing 3 things:

  • The right steps to take to build your business and teach your guitar students.
  • How to take each step in the best, easiest and most effective way possible.
  • What order to take the steps in, so you can build your business quickly.

Many guitar teachers take the steps out of order (or take the wrong steps) due to fear, insecurities and procrastination.

Fears lead to strategic mistakes and make it hard to teach your guitar students effectively. These mistakes also limit the amount of money you can earn in your business.

Do THIS And You'll Get A Lot More Guitar Students
Do THIS And You'll Get A Lot More Guitar Students Free eGuide

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.


Mistake #1. Waiting Too Long To Start Teaching Guitar

Most new guitar teachers fear not being good enough (as musicians) to start teaching. They put off their goal years into the future and get an unrelated day job to support themselves in the meantime. Years go by and their dream fades away.

Reality: You don't need to be a virtuoso guitarist to start teaching. If you aren’t a highly advanced musician yet, you can start teaching beginners or early intermediate guitar players. To begin teaching guitar, you need:

Guitar technique practice checklist

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  1. A desire to teach and help others.
  2. A strong ambition to build a successful guitar teaching business.
  3. A strong ambition to build a successful guitar teaching business 

Want to know if you are truly ready to start teaching guitar? Download this free guitar teaching checklist and see if you can answer “yes” to the questions inside. If you honestly answer “yes” to all the questions, you can begin teaching your first student today :) 

Mistake #2: Being Afraid To Promote Yourself As A Guitar Teacher

Many new guitar teachers think: “I'm not really good enough as a guitar teacher to promote myself heavily. When I get more experience teaching guitar, then I’ll promote myself more.”

This way of thinking is completely upside down and backwards. Here is why:

When are you more likely to get a lot of experience teaching guitar? By teaching 3-4 students? Or by teaching 100 students? The answer is obvious…but the reasons behind the answer are not obvious. Of course you get more experience with 100 students than with 3-4 students….but NOT only because you work with more people.

Here are the real reasons:

  1. All guitar students are different. They have different goals, challenges, levels of motivation, personalities and backgrounds. The faster you get experience dealing with different types of students, the faster you become a better guitar teacher. Working with the same 3-4 guitar students for too long develops blind spots in your approaches to teaching guitar. These blind spots make you less effective as a teacher.
  2. Having more students forces you to refine other (administrative) aspects of your guitar teaching business. These elements help you to scale your business, so you can attract more and more students (and teach them all effectively).

Want to learn how to attract (and keep) a lot more guitar students? Study this free guitar teaching guide to learn how to never struggle again to fill your teaching schedule.

Infographic about common guitar teaching mistakes

Mistake #3. Not Teaching Group Classes

Teaching group classes the right way helps your students become better guitar players compared to private lessons. (This guitar teaching business video explains why.) This also helps you earn a lot more money teaching guitar.  

Your action steps: Enroll your students into group classes immediately and learn how to teach group classes the right way.

Mistake #4: Waiting Too Long To Charge What You Are Worth

Most guitar teachers think: “I’ll start off teaching guitar lessons for free (or charging little money). Then when I get more experience, I’ll charge more.”

This approach sets you up for failure. Here is why:

Low guitar lesson rates make it easy to justify mediocre guitar teaching. Your students don’t expect greatness from you (because they pay you little or nothing for guitar lessons). This removes urgency from you to become the best guitar teacher you can be. The result: Your guitar students miss out on the value you can and should be providing them. You miss out on the money you can and should be earning.

Next, it’s much harder to raise lesson rates on your current students than it is to charge all students what you should be charging.

Action Steps For You: Charge more for guitar lessons than other teachers do in your area. Then take massive action to improve your guitar teaching skills quickly. This makes it easy to justify your higher rates (and attracts more serious guitar students to you).

Mistake #5. Procrastinating On Getting Guitar Teacher Training

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Many guitar teachers don't get any training on how to teach guitar, because:

  1. They aren’t aware that guitar teacher training exists.
  2. They lack ambition to improve their guitar teaching skills.

This mindset is wrong.

Guitar teacher training is an investment in your business, not an expense. It helps you make a lot more money than you ever invest into it. Here is how:

  • You learn effective promotional strategies to attract more guitar students.
  • Having guitar teacher training gives you a powerful credential that your competitors can’t match (even if they have advanced music degrees). This helps you convert guitar students who contact you into your actual students.
  • You learn how to help your students become great guitarists faster. This builds your reputation in your local area and brings you more students via referrals.

Disclaimer: You may know that I train guitar teachers to teach guitar. So you may think that everything above is only written to attract you to join my guitar teacher training program. If you think this, you are only half right. I do want to help guitar teachers like yourself become successful. But the benefits of guitar teacher training are undeniable whether you work with me or not. :) 

Mistake #6. Not Planning For Long-Term Growth

Most guitar teachers have no long-term vision for their business. They only focus on how many new students they want to get in the next 1-2 months.

This incremental thinking works only if you are happy to earn a little bit of money, teach a few guitar students and work a lot more than you have to. Building a serious business (teaching 250 students or more, working part-time) is impossible with this mindset.  

Build your guitar teaching business with the end in mind. Decide how you want your business to look 3 (or more) years from now.

Music Career Success Mindset

Ask yourself:

  • How many guitar students do I want to have?
  • How much money do I want to earn?
  • How will I teach the students I have 3 or more years from now?
  • How can I ensure that my guitar students get great results when they study with me?

(Tip: be ambitious when you set your goals. Base your goals on what YOU want…not based on what the average guitar teachers are achieving).

Next, break your big long-term goal down into small actionable steps. Work backwards from where you want to be to where you are now. This tells you what you must do next to get closer to your goal and makes your actions congruent with your desired outcome. Such a process takes out all guesswork from growing your business. It also prevents painting yourself into a corner and burning yourself out.

Mistake #7. Solving Your Guitar Students’ Problems In The Wrong Order

Your guitar students have many problems they must solve to reach their musical goals. The order in which you solve their problems is critically important. Solving your students’ biggest problems first kills their confidence and motivation. The road ahead of them looks long and frustrating. This frustration drives many students to quit lessons.

Solve your students’ easiest problems first. This builds their self-confidence, makes your guitar lessons more fun and builds their trust in you.

This video shows how to solve problems in the right order when teaching sweep picking to your guitar students:

Mistake #8. Waiting Too Long To Teach Your Guitar Students To Apply Their Skills

Most guitar teachers wait until a student has fully mastered a concept or technique in isolation before they train them to apply it. This is a mistake. Your students must learn to use every concept you teach them long before it is mastered. This helps them to:

  1. Integrate all their skills together a lot faster and make more progress.
  2. See the big picture behind everything you teach them. This increases their motivation to practice guitar.
  3. Trust you more as their guitar teacher. This is key to long-term student retention (more on this below).

Question: “But Tom Hess, won’t my guitar students develop bad habits by applying skills before they are mastered?” 

Answer: No. Your guitar students will continue to practice their skills in isolation and refine them while training to apply them. Application training doesn't replace perfect isolation practice, it enhances it. This helps your students progress faster.

Now that you know more about teaching guitar, your next step is to learn how to fill your teaching schedule and make guitar students excited about studying with you. Download this free guitar teaching eGuide to learn how to attract guitar students like a magnet and become the #1 guitar teacher in your area.

Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He trains guitar teachers from all over the world how to earn 6-figures per year teaching guitar, while working less than 40 hours per week. 

Learn proven ways to make money as a guitar teacher.

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