5 Reasons Why You Aren’t The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City & What You Must Do To Grow Your Guitar Teaching Business To The Highest Level

By Tom Hess

Sad but true: most guitar teachers simply ‘settle’ for being mediocre in all aspects of their business. Many of them never even ‘try’ to go beyond merely having enough students to get by financially and it’s just fine by them if the majority of their students never reach their goals as long as they keep coming to lessons. Worst of all, guitar teachers who ARE very ambitious, often never realize their full potential because they don’t even see what level of success IS possible to achieve beyond the mediocrity they see around them.

Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to become the number one guitar teacher in your city, have the highest number of happy and fulfilled students and have the most successful business. To do that, you first need to understand the reasons why most guitar teachers don’t become successful and you must implement the right steps to achieve a different outcome.

Here are the top 5 reasons why most guitar teachers will not become highly successful and an explanation of what you need to do instead to ensure that YOU become the number one guitar teacher in your area:

Reason #1 For Guitar Teacher Failure: Imitating What Other Guitar Teachers Are Doing

You will not become the best guitar teacher in your city by copying what other guitar teachers do for 3 reasons:

1. As mentioned above, most guitar teachers are not successful. So, copying what they do (both in marketing and in the approaches to teaching students) will only ensure that you get the same failing results as well.

2. Even if you are trying to copy what the more successful teachers in your area do, you are not seeing the full ‘strategy’ behind their efforts - you are only seeing isolated ‘tactics’. A tactic is a single action taken to achieve a single/specific result. Posting an ad in a music store, improving some aspect of your guitar teaching website or distributing flyers around your neighborhood are examples of tactics. A ‘strategy’ is the thought process that connects individual tactics into a well thought-out business plan to achieve a variety of medium and long-term goals. The strategy exists deep ‘below’ the surface of what you see and it is something you can never copy by merely observing tactics in isolation.

3. By trying to be just like every other teacher in your area, you turn your guitar lessons into a ‘commodity’ (something you can buy anywhere, like a soft drink). Therefore, there is no difference (other than price) in your prospective student’s mind between taking lessons with you or with any other teacher in your city. The only way to achieve competitive advantage in such a case is to try to be the cheapest teacher in town. However, the most serious prospective guitar students will generally know that “you get what you pay for”. As a result, you will develop a reputation as being a ‘low quality teacher’ and at best will attract only non-serious guitarists who will show up late to lessons, will not practice and will not pay you on time.

What You Should Do Instead To Become The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City:

Instead of copying isolated tactics of what other guitar teachers do and building your business based on blind guesswork, do what successful guitar teachers do:

  • Get real training on ‘how to teach guitar’ and ‘how to build a successful guitar teaching business’. This is what will help you develop your own business strategy and highly effective guitar teaching methods that will deliver superior results to your students, compared to any other teacher in your area.
  • Instead of promoting your lessons as ‘general’ guitar lessons, choose ONE specific style to teach and become the go-to expert for THAT style. This will automatically put you at the top of anyone’s list who wants to learn that style of guitar and will also help you attract more serious guitar students (those who already know what style they want to play are typically going to be more serious long-term students). Although this seems counterintuitive, it has been proven that ‘expert’ guitar teachers in a specific (but still popular) musical style niche become much more successful than guitar teachers who try to be all things to all people.
  • Charge AT LEAST slightly above average for your guitar lessons. Why is this important? Your students naturally will feel much more motivated to practice and get better when they are paying more for lessons. By charging them more you are helping them stay accountable to themselves in order to not let their financial investment go to waste.

Reason #2 For Guitar Teacher Failure: Spending Very Little Time Working ‘On’ Your Guitar Teaching Business

You will not become hugely successful if you spend your time ‘exclusively’ on creating lesson plans, keeping track of administrative tasks/payments, creating materials and other smaller tasks that go along with teaching guitar. Although it is important to work on these things, your business will not grow on its own unless you actively work to MAKE it grow (in addition to actually ‘teaching’ guitar lessons). You should also know that if you neglect the business aspects of guitar teaching, your business will not only ‘not grow’, but it will actually ‘go backwards’ (meaning you will lose more students than you take in). This is one of the reasons why many guitar teachers go out of business and/or are forced to work unrelated day jobs to supplement their income.

What You Should Do Instead To Become The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City:

In addition to working ‘in’ your business (teaching guitar lessons), invest time every week into working ‘on’ expanding all areas of your guitar teaching business. This includes finding ways to increase the number of new students you take in, getting better at retaining students for longer periods of time, developing a solid student referral system, refining your lesson policy and developing a marketing strategy. Write down your specific goals for where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 5 years and determine the action steps needed to reach them. Then work on taking these steps each week in order to continually make progress.

To quickly start attracting more students, test and improve your current methods using this assessment for attracting more guitar students.

Learn more about how to expand your guitar teaching business as a whole by taking this short guitar teaching business assessment.

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Reason #3 For Guitar Teacher Failure: Having The Wrong Mindset About Marketing Or Bad Psychology About Money

You will NEVER make good money as a guitar teacher and become the leading guitar teacher in your city if you think that it is somehow unethical to want to make a lot of money ($100,000 per year or more) from teaching music. You also will not be successful if you think that you don’t need to market yourself if you just ‘teach guitar well’ (or that word of mouth is the only ethical way to grow in business). Many guitar teachers feel like it is ‘wrong’ to want to make a lot of money from teaching other people how to play guitar and as a result never take steps to effectively promote themselves and build their business. This is a MASSIVE lose/lose scenario in 2 ways:

  • You will be doomed to forever struggle financially (since you will never do the things needed to make your business grow to a big level).
  • Guitar players in your area will suffer even more, because your belief system will lead you to set up your business in a way that prevents growing past a certain number of students. There are a lot of guitarists in your city who badly want and need your help, who will never get a chance to work with you… all because you thought it would be ‘unethical’ to market to them or to seek to grow your business past a certain level of income. Incidentally, teaching over 100 students by yourself IS (very) realistic if you have the right systems in place in your business to enable such growth to take place…and you don’t need to work 100 hours per week (or anything close to that) to make it happen. I’ve helped guitar teachers to do this in less than 15 hours per week…yes, you read correctly - ‘fifteen hours per week’ to teach 100+ students. Watch this guitar teaching business video to see how this can be done.

What You Should Do Instead To Become The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City:

You must adopt the same attitude that successful guitar teachers have about money (and marketing). All thriving guitar teachers know and understand that:

  • By making more money they can re-invest it back into their guitar teaching business to directly benefit the students. By earning more as a guitar teacher, you will be able to offer your students tons of additional benefits that you couldn’t offer them otherwise, such as a better studio to work in, recording equipment, high quality rental instruments, bigger learning spaces (where they can learn with many other students at once) and additional perks such as annual student parties/conventions/jam sessions.
  • In order to make more money (and feel totally justified in charging above average for guitar lessons), you MUST become the absolute ‘best’ at what you do. So the desire to build a financially thriving business is part of the motivation behind delivering the highest value and results possible to your students. This is also another reason why successful guitar teachers all invest into training for how to teach guitar.

When you know that you have the ability to transform the musical lives of your students and help them reach their goals, it becomes your ‘moral obligation’ to attract as many guitar students as possible and help them reach their guitar playing goals.

Reason #4 For Guitar Teacher Failure: Not Actively Seeking To Improve Your Guitar Teaching Skills

Nothing is worse for your reputation as a guitar teacher than consistently providing lackluster teaching and not getting BIG results for your students. This happens when you get comfortable with ‘going through the motions’ and allow yourself to continue teaching in the same way you have always taught without doing anything to actively improve your skills as a guitar teacher. In any other industry (such as accounting or medicine as two examples), you would lose your license (and could be sued by your patients/clients) if it was discovered that you haven’t kept current with your training/expertise, or claimed to be qualified to do accounting/treat people, but were not. Unfortunately, guitar teachers are not licensed in the same way and the world is full of ‘malpractice’ by guitar teachers who never learned how to teach (or teach simply by copying what they see other teachers do).

What You Should Do Instead To Become The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City

Realize that not only your students are ‘paying’ you for great results, but more importantly, their musical future is in YOUR hands. You have the power to either massively help them become great musicians or destroy their potential/self-confidence about ever becoming the guitar players they want to be. This is why it is your moral and ethical duty as a guitar teacher to get your students the best possible results and do everything you can to become the best guitar teacher you can be.

Note: being a great guitar player (or having a general music degree) is NOT the same as learning ‘how to TEACH others’ to play guitar, so being a good musician is no substitute for ongoing guitar teacher training.

Reason #5 For Guitar Teacher Failure: Not Being TRULY Passionate About Teaching

No amount of guitar teaching skills (or clever marketing) will make up for lack of passion for teaching guitar. If you lack passion for what you do, you will never become the number one teacher in your city. When you lack passion, teaching guitar becomes equivalent to working any unfulfilling day job and will lead you to accept lower standards (for yourself and for the progress of your students). Since working a ‘regular job’ that feels unrewarding does not incentivize you to get better, you are much less likely to take the necessary steps for growing your business and improving your teaching skills. This will lead to an inevitable failure of your business. Additionally, your students will always match your level of enthusiasm as their guitar teacher. If you are not highly passionate about what you do, you won’t be able to motivate your students to practice more, implement the things you tell them to do and be excited about the process of learning guitar from you.

In contrast, the top guitar teachers ALL have an intense passion for teaching guitar. These people do not only teach guitar to make money, they teach because it is something they truly love doing. When you have a strong burning passion for teaching guitar, your students will see this in you and will respond positively to it.

What You Should Do Instead To Become The Number One Guitar Teacher In Your City

In order to develop a strong passion for what you do, it is essential that you identify your ‘reasons’ for wanting to become successful at it. When it comes to teaching guitar, you must identify the goals that teaching guitar at a high level will help you achieve. By identifying your biggest reasons for teaching guitar, you will be able to channel your excitement for achieving your goals into your teaching. This will help you to not only get more enjoyment from giving lessons, but also use your enthusiasm to inspire your students and keep them in a positive mindset as they struggle to overcome their playing challenges.

What should you do now?

Now that you have read through the points above, the only thing left to do is take action to continue growing as a guitar teacher and become the leader in your city. When you implement the advice (and use the resources) given throughout this article, you will see your business start growing like you never imagined before and you will be able to help a lot more new students become better guitar players.

Get the training you need to become a successful guitar teacher.

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