9 Guitar Teaching Questions That Help You Get More Guitar Students
By Tom Hess
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Want more guitar students?
The first step is to:
... stop copying what other guitar teachers do.
Most guitar teachers set themselves up for failure when they look for new students.
They lack ambition, ask the wrong questions and take small actions to grow their business.
This makes it impossible to attract (and keep) a large number of students.
The second step is to ...
... ask yourself the right questions.
These questions shape the strategy of your guitar teaching business. This helps you attract motivated guitar students, turn them into great guitarists faster..
... and earn a lot of money in the process.
Asking these questions helps you fill your guitar teaching schedule with students:
Start your guitar teaching business with the end in mind. Set an ambitious long-term goal for yourself and work backwards to where you are now. This helps you choose the right guitar teaching models to teach lots of students without burning out (more on this below).
Having a long-term goal also dictates what marketing strategies you want to use to reach your objective.
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Most guitar teachers are only concerned with getting the next 1-2 students. Their thinking rarely extends beyond the current month. They don’t plan for the long-term (how many guitar students they want to have 2-3 years from now).
This creates several problems:
- You paint yourself into a corner. Without a long-term goal, your business reaches a plateau. Example: Teaching exclusively private lessons (as most guitar teachers do) makes it very hard to teach more than 40-50 students. This limits the number of people you can help and the amount of money you can earn. To grow further, you have no choice but to redo the entire foundation of your business. This is very frustrating (and time-consuming).
- You burn yourself out by working a lot more than necessary to get a small result. This happens to most guitar teachers who are ambitious, but don’t have a real strategy for growing their business.
Deciding in advance how many guitar students you want to teach eliminates these problems.
Question: “Tom Hess, what if I don’t know how many guitar students I want to have? What’s a realistic number of guitar students one can handle?”
Answer: Think big, not small. Fact: it’s very possible to teach hundreds of guitar students by yourself (working less than 20 hours per week). But it is only possible if you set up your guitar teaching business to handle this many students from the very beginning.
You may also envision expanding your guitar teaching business into an entire music school. The school can have many music teachers and teach multiple instruments. The school can also expand to multiple locations over time. Your potential is limited only by your own ambition. Big thinking is the start of big success.
Not all guitar students are equal. The ideal guitar students are the ones who:
- Want to learn the exact styles you teach (so you can teach your students what they want to learn).
- Are very self-motivated to practice and do the necessary things to get the most from your lessons.
- Respect you and your lesson policies, instead of constantly asking you to make "exceptions" for them.
- Have money to invest in guitar lessons (obviously).
- Implement everything you teach them, so they actually get results and become good players.
- Remain your students for a long time (and refer other students to you).
- Are loyal to you
Guitar students who meet these criteria become great guitar players quickly. They also have a massive lifetime value for your business. (They spend A LOT of money with you over the course of your relationship because you continuously provide good value for them.) Average guitar students lack one or more of these areas. They are less likely to become good musicians and offer less financial value to your business. Filling your schedule with average students hurts your income. This also hurts the ideal guitar students in your area who truly deserve your help.
To attract the right students, learn how these students think, how they behave and what they look for in a guitar teacher. Next, structure your advertising (and guitar lessons) to appeal strongly to that group of people. (Guitar teacher training helps you do this.)
The way you advertise your guitar lessons and enforce your guitar lesson policy determine what type of guitar students you attract.
Warning: This business strategy will repel some people (the students you do not want)…but will strongly attract the guitar students you DO want. You need rock-solid principles, conviction and mental clarity to implement this strategy. Your commitment to attracting and serving your ideal guitar students leads to your success.
Most guitar teachers don't really care what type of students they attract. They are desperate to fill their schedule and try to please everyone. Ideal guitar students usually avoid such teachers (or don’t stay with them for very long).
Becoming the most successful guitar teacher in your area is not about being better than your competition. It’s about being so good that your competition becomes irrelevant.
Fact: It doesn't take much to be better than the average guitar teacher.
Most (average) guitar teachers:
- Have zero training on how to teach guitar. They learn how to teach by trial and error or by copying what other guitar teachers do.
- Think their main job is to “teach guitar lessons”. (Hint: it’s not.)
- Don’t truly care about the results of their guitar students. (Even if they say they do, their actions prove otherwise.)
- Teach lessons using inferior teaching formats. (Example: private lessons).
- Treat teaching guitar like a job. They do the bare minimum to keep their students from quitting.
Improving any one of these elements makes you better than average, but it doesn’t make you the best. Being #1 requires ongoing commitment to excellence in every aspect of your guitar teaching and business. This makes you the only choice for serious guitar students in your area.
The best guitar teachers:
- Invest heavily in ongoing guitar teacher training. They consider it their moral obligation to be excellent at what they do.
- Focus on delivering results to their students. They measure their success in the number of students they helped to reach their musical goals.
- Care deeply about their students. They back this up by delivering far more value to their students than anybody else.
- Teach using a variety of guitar lesson formats that are proven to be effective.
- Are passionate about music and teaching it to others. Their passion shows in everything they do to grow their business and help their students. This passion helps to keep their students studying with them for years.
Tip: Don’t confuse a music degree with training on how to teach guitar. A music degree only helps you improve your own musical skills. It does not teach you how to enable others to become great musicians. Teaching guitar (and music) effectively is a unique skill that is separate from your own musical talents.
Guitar students who contact you about lessons are only potential students. Turning potential students into actual students is called conversion. You need strategies for mastering this area of your guitar teaching business. Leaving this step of the process to chance makes it hard to fill your teaching schedule with students.
Note: this step is NOT about manipulation or tricking others to do something they should not do. It’s about:
- Helping guitar students see that studying with you is the best and fastest way to reach their goals (if that is indeed the case).
- Backing your statements up with undeniable proof. This proof makes your students confident in choosing you as their guitar teacher.
- Following through on what you promise your students (more on this below).
Important: You gain nothing by attracting the wrong students into your schedule. Such students rarely remain with you for very long. It’s in your best interest to only work with guitar students whom you are confident you can help. When you sense that a prospective student is not a good match to work with you, do not accept that person as your student. Yes, you read correctly. Turn away students who are not a good match for you or your business.
Most guitar teachers do the opposite. They happily accept everyone who wants to study with them and are afraid to turn away students. In the long run, this hurts their students and it hurts them.
Want to convert more potential students to become your actual guitar students? Download this free guitar teaching eGuide to learn how to have more students than any other guitar teaher in your area.
Most guitar students think that guitar teachers (and guitar lessons) are all the same. This is why the top 2 questions guitar teachers get asked are:
- How much do your guitar lessons cost?
- Where are you located?
With this criteria, many students look for the cheapest guitar teacher who is closest to where they live. Worst of all, most guitar teachers wrongly assume that lowest price matters greatly to their students. False!
Guitar students ask about price and location because they (usually) don’t have other ways to evaluate guitar teachers. Fact is, students don’t really want “the cheapest” or “the closest” guitar teacher. They want the best, most economical and most effective way to improve their guitar playing. By using the wrong criteria, most guitar students select the wrong teacher for them. This hurts those students and it hurts you.
To fill your guitar teaching schedule, help your prospective students select a guitar teacher based on the right criteria. Show them that:
- Guitar lessons are NOT all the same. Some guitar teachers are much better than others.
- “Price per lesson” is irrelevant. All that matters is the cost of getting the result your students want. Illustrate the cost in terms of money and time to make this point easy to understand.
- You are the best-qualified guitar teacher to help your students reach their goals for the smallest overall cost.
Note: Of course tell the truth here. If you are not confident in your guitar teaching skills, get guitar teacher training to learn to teach guitar effectively.
This positions you as the expert and helps you attract more serious guitar students. Fact: serious students always find the money and time to travel to study with a superior guitar teacher to get the results they want.
Question: “Tom Hess, how do I help guitar students use the right criteria? I can’t go to all my prospective students’ homes and educate them on how to choose a guitar teacher!”
Answer: You do this in every interaction you have with your students. This process starts on your website and your flyers and ads. The process continues in your communication with prospective students (via email, via telephone and in person). This process continues further when your prospective students become your actual students (more on this below). Start by asking yourself the questions in this article (and answer them for yourself). Then create your guitar teaching strategy based on these answers. I coach guitar teachers do this in my guitar teacher training program.
Fact: having a lot of guitar students isn’t just about getting a lot of new students. It’s also about keeping the guitar students you have for as long as possible. Keeping your students longer enables you to:
- Add more musical value to their lives and make them awesome guitarists faster.
- Earn a lot more money from each student throughout their relationship with you.
- Grow the number of guitar students you have much faster. You can do this more easily because you aren’t constantly replacing students who quit with new students.
Most guitar teachers do little or nothing to keep their students longer. Their only focus is on getting more new students through the door. These guitar teachers have a much harder time increasing the number of students they have. Most of their guitar students also don’t become great players (because they don’t take lessons long enough).
Focus on keeping all your guitar students for as long as possible. This changes your relationship with your current and prospective students. You become motivated to constantly add value to the students you already have and learn to pre-educate new students on the benefit of continuing guitar lessons for a long time. This helps your students reach their goals faster and it helps you grow your business.
Attracting (and keeping) guitar students becomes easy when you are an expert guitar teacher. The better your guitar teaching skills, the faster your students become great guitar players. The more great guitar students you have, the easier it is to prove to prospective students that you will help them reach their goals.
Improving your guitar teaching skills is a key part of your guitar teaching business success.
Becoming a better guitar teacher is about:
- Knowing what to do to teach your students effectively.
- Knowing what not to do. Avoid common guitar teaching mistakes that cause your students to make slow progress.
- Getting lots of experience teaching guitar as quickly as possible.
Most guitar teachers don’t fully commit to improving their teaching skills. They let irrational fears stop them from becoming the best guitar teachers they can be. Their lack of guitar teaching skills makes them less confident about attracting more students. This creates a vicious circle: your lack of experience makes you afraid to attract more guitar students. Having few students makes it hard to get the experience that makes you a better guitar teacher.
Overcoming your fear helps you become a better guitar teacher and attract a lot more students.
Most guitar teachers do nothing to increase the number of students they get from referrals. They assume that referrals happen on their own and take them for granted. Fact is, you can do a lot to encourage your students to send you more referrals. The first step is to simply ask this question to yourself. This gets your mind thinking in the right direction and helps create a new stream of students for your business.
Question: “Tom Hess, isn’t the best way to increase referrals simply to be a great guitar teacher?”
Answer: Yes and no. You do need to be a great guitar teacher, but that won’t be enough to maximize referrals. Make it easy for your students to refer their friends to you and give them strong incentives to do so.
Eventually all your guitar students will quit studying with you. But it doesn't mean they have no desire to ever come back. Many guitar teachers simply forget about their past students after they quit. This is a huge mistake. Some of your past students may want to resume lessons with you, but are afraid to do so. Yes, you read correctly. They are afraid to reach out to you first, fearing you might think badly of them.
Solution: be proactive and stay in touch with your former guitar students. Make it clear that you welcome them back at any time. This makes it much easier for them to actually come back when they are ready to do so.
You now know what to do to start attracting more guitar students. The next step to filling your teaching schedule is to learn what to say & do when prospective students contact you to make them excited about starting lessons with you immediately. Download this free guitar teaching eGuide to learn how to have more students than any other teacher in your area.
About 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 how to fill your guitar teaching schedule with students.
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