Tom Hess, professional guitarist, musician in the virtuoso metal band Rhapsody Of Fire and international guitar teacher shares his perspective on reaching a major level of success in the guitar teaching profession.

Did you ever ask yourself why you are not as successful as your local guitar teaching competition? If so, you are not alone. Most guitar teachers are very concerned about how they stack up to their competition. The truth is, regardless of how well others in your local area are doing, YOU can become a highly successful guitar teacher once you learn not only what to “do”, but how to conquer any of the bad habits you have (and may not be aware of) that hold back your guitar teaching business.

As both a guitar instructor with over twenty-five years of experience and a mentor to many other guitar teachers worldwide, I have invested a great deal of time into learning all the facts about what makes a guitar teacher highly successful in order to help my clients expand their teaching businesses and gain positive results for their students. After years of research, I have noticed that most guitar teachers have the same ‘potential’ to become highly successful. Interestingly, the difference between the guitar teachers who succeed and the ones who don’t comes from the ability to manage the various strengths and weaknesses of their personalities. The guitar teachers who have the most successful guitar teaching businesses have all become proficient at focusing on their strengths of their personalities, while other teachers constantly become frustrated as they are unable to overcome the weaknesses in their personalities that hold them back (more on this topic in a moment).

Previously, I have created many guitar teaching articles that deal with specific ideas on what you should ‘do’ as a guitar teacher to make your guitar teaching business more successful (if you have not read the information in these articles, get this free guitar teaching business eBook to find out more). For the purposes of this article, I am going to explain to you a concept that will be instrumental in your growth and success as a guitar teacher. When I personally train guitar teachers to become more effective in their teaching strategies, they become very familiar with this idea.

The Psychology Of A Guitar Teacher

As guitar teachers (and people in general), we all have different parts of our psychological makeup that direct our behavior in every action we take. Similarly, the way you develop expertise as a musician or guitar teacher depends on the skills that you focus on most. That said, for each ‘strong’ quality you possess in your musical or teaching abilities, there exists an opposing (and connected) ‘weak’ quality that often keeps you from reaching your full potential. If these weak qualities remain undetected, they will quickly overwhelm your strong qualities until you take the time to identify and correct them. This commonly occurs to all guitar teachers (experienced and inexperienced (usually without them even knowing about it).

If you have not reached a high level of success already as a guitar teacher, it is crucial that you learn how to get all you can out of your strengths while minimizing the unwanted effects of the weaknesses that accompany them. No matter what, if you do not take the time to do this, you will NOT be able to achieve great success as a guitar teacher.

Every guitar teacher will a successful guitar teaching business knows about this, and fortunately; you can learn this for yourself regardless of whether or not it is something that comes naturally to you.

To demonstrate my point, I am going to show you some of the most common traits I observe in the guitar teachers I train each day. In the chart below, I will show you how each personality strength also contains a weakness. The truth is, there are many more weaknesses per strength than what I have included, but I have narrowed it down to just one in order to keep this article from becoming too long.

It is essential to identify that each one of the strengths in the left column of this chart are certainly good characteristics to have and will be helpful in making you a better guitar teacher. However, you must also recognize the different ways that these strengths can also turn into weaknesses until you take the initiative to learn how to stop them from doing so.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You enjoy pleasing others and are very hospitable. It is good to meet the needs of your guitar students (of course); however, many guitar teachers have a tendency to become “people-pleasers” and their students walk all over them. As a result, their guitar teaching businesses often suffer when they do not strictly enforce their teaching policies.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You often think of new and innovative ideas. These types will often take steps to innovate before they fully understand the fundamental way that things work (that work just as effectively). Being an innovator is a great quality to have, but only when innovation is used without sacrificing the conventional methods that already work well.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You are an advanced guitar player. While teaching less experienced guitarists or guitarists who have never played before, a lot of guitar teachers with highly developed playing skills have trouble relating to the mindset of their students. This is a problem because beginner students make up the majority of all guitar students you will teach. It is essential to be able to identify with beginner students who have not yet developed significant guitar playing skills.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You have already been teaching for a long time. These types of guitar teachers often have a difficult time when it comes to changing the teaching methods they are used to. As a result, their overall guitar teaching strategy lacks innovation and they experience greatly limited growth of their guitar teaching business. This is one of the biggest reasons that there are so many ‘average’ guitar teachers who do not get BIG results for their students.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You are excited to teach guitar and get the best results for your guitar students. Having a great deal of passion for teaching guitar is certainly a necessity for any guitar teacher; however, it is very common for guitar teachers in this group to ignore the business aspects of teaching guitar. This results in helping less guitar students because they simply cannot afford the time to do so. In fact, the more income you make as a guitar teacher, the more you can use your money to increase the overall value of your guitar lessons.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You take learning about music as a serious matter and focus on teaching with a strong sense of discipline. It is often difficult for guitar teachers in this category to identify with guitar students who only wish to play ‘for fun’. In reality, most of your guitar students will only be seeking to play guitar as a side hobby, and until you can relate with their musical goals, you will have a hard time keeping a full teaching schedule.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You play several instruments in addition to guitar. When guitar students look for someone to teach them guitar, they are much more prone to seek the help of an ‘expert’ who specializes in guitar rather than someone who teaches many different instruments. By marketing yourself as a teacher of many instruments, you may actually end up doing more harm than good to your reputation as a guitar teacher.
You have accomplished many things in your career as a professional musician. If you are spending the majority of your time focusing on your music career, you will likely struggle to develop your guitar teaching skills due to limited time constraints. It is for this reason that most professional musicians are unable to turn their guitar students into great guitarists.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You always have a collection of new ideas that you want to work on to grow your guitar teaching business. The guitar teachers in this group often experience frustration as they begin working on new projects on a consistent basis, yet never make significant progress because they never see their projects all the way through.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You usually think out your plans and goals in advance. While it is useful (and necessary) to be able to create plans in advance for your guitar teaching business, do not make the mistake of over-planning. Remember, nothing in your guitar teaching business will start to fall into place until you take ACTION to make it happen!

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You are very self-dependent. Self-dependence is a great quality to have; however many guitar teachers who are strong in this area feel a resistance to asking for help when they need it. In order to develop your guitar teaching business, you can steer clear of many common obstacles by learning from someone who has already been down the same road as you.

Guitar Teacher Strength/Opposing Guitar Teacher Weakness

You have a strong and persistent work ethic. It is common for people who are persistent to also adapt the trait of being stubborn. This can hold you back from cutting out ineffective teaching methods or approaches in the way you run your guitar teaching business.

What is the next step?

You now have a detailed understanding about how the strengths and weaknesses of your personality work together to get you to behave in a certain way. Take advantage of this knowledge now by reading the steps below and taking action to begin growing your guitar teaching business:

1. Read again through the chart above to identify your own strengths and weaknesses as a guitar teacher and for running your guitar teaching business. Get much more out of the chart above by filling out this guitar teaching personality assessment.

2. Invest the time to come up with a solid plan for how you will maximize the benefits you receive from your strengths while avoiding the negative aspects that may come along with them. Take note of the daily actions you take as a guitar teacher and compare them the chart above in order to help you identify and eliminate any limiting thoughts that will keep you from becoming a great guitar teacher.

3. Know that becoming stable and balanced in your “guitar teaching personality” means consistently planning ahead and seeking out the advice and training of an expert who has been in the same situation as you. It is very common for guitar teachers to act in the moment rather than take the time to map things out and plan ahead. Although they probably understand that it is important to make plans, they simply cannot get into the habit of thinking ahead. If this describes you, or if you are not really sure about what “weaknesses” you need to focus on eliminating, then you will get the most benefit from working with someone who can help you with this.

4. Make a commitment to refine your current approach in your guitar teaching business by keeping the above ideas in mind.

With the advice of this article in mind, you definitely should continue to expand your understanding of all the things that you need to “do” in order to improve as a guitar teacher. However, keep in mind that until you figure out your natural strengths and weaknesses, what you “do” will be limited to small results. As soon as you truly learn how to take advantage of your strengths and minimize the effect of your weaknesses, you will be able to make quick progress to grow and expand your guitar teaching business to great new heights!

To get additional help for learning your strengths and weaknesses as a guitar instructor, answer the questions in this guitar teaching personality assessment and study the ideas of this guitar teaching business eBook.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher and the guitar player for the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He helps many guitar teachers learn to how to teach guitar for a living. On his website,, you can get additional free tips about guitar teaching, guitar teacher articles, mini courses and guitar teaching skill assessments.