Seven Questions Not To Ask As A Guitar Teacher

By Tom Hess

As you advance your guitar teaching business you will have many questions about how to become more successful. However, until you understand the ‘right’ questions to ask, you will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes made by the overwhelming majority of teachers. Fact is, most guitar teachers make incorrect assumptions when it comes to solving common business problems. As a result, they make very slow progress if any to gain more students and build their careers.

I’ve spent many years training guitar teachers to become successful, highly-paid instructors... and during this time, I have come across a wide array of questions on the topic of “how to become a successful guitar teacher”. After hearing the same questions over and over so many times, I am able to immediately spot false assumptions about the guitar teaching business embedded within a person’s thoughts and beliefs. Simply put, many questions asked by guitar teachers are based on misconceptions that will ultimately lead you to failure. It is highly important that you ask the RIGHT questions that will help you flourish as a guitar teacher. To do this, you must identify the common questions asked by most guitar teachers that will limit you and prevent you from becoming successful. The following are seven major examples of these types of questions. Read through each one to learn why they are based on misconceptions and how you can avoid ‘sabotaging’ your guitar teaching business.

Question #1: 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). I’ve explained some of these concepts in this free guitar teacher’s guide about effective ways to make money teaching guitar.

Question #2: How Much Money Should My Guitar Lessons Cost?

By merely ‘asking’ this question, you are instantly setting yourself up to fail because you instill the belief in your mind that you must compete with other guitar teachers based on price alone (or that you need to somehow base your prices on what is ‘fair’ compared to everyone else). You are making it easy for your students to view guitar lessons as simply a matter of finding the lowest price/best deal rather than seeking the greatest guitar teacher who will offer the best value for his or her students. Potential guitar students will have no real incentive to work with you until and unless you give them a real reason why they should study guitar with you instead of anyone else in your area.

Additionally, by asking this question you make the assumption that there is only one way to offer guitar lessons (in 1 on 1 format), which is a completely limiting approach. Fact is, there are plenty of creative guitar teaching models you can use to get far greater results for students while developing a flourishing business and offering many pricing options to your customers. Find out more information on these methods by watching this video on the topic of ‘how to effectively teach guitar’.

The cost of your lessons should be directly based on the unique value you offer to your guitar students instead of whatever anyone else is charging in your community. Focus on working as hard as you can to increase the value you offer to your students, get big results for them and adjust your prices accordingly.

Question #3: Where Is The Best Location To Advertise My Guitar Teaching Business?

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. Only using a single method for gaining new students is a dangerous way to run a guitar teaching business and will lead you to many problems. If/when your only way of gaining students begins to lose effectiveness, your teaching business as a whole will suffer greatly since you were entirely dependent on it.

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. Get trained to teach guitar by an expert and learn many effective strategies for building a successful business.

Question #4: What Must I Teach During My Guitar Lessons?

Seeking an answer to this question is very destructive for both you and your guitar students. Why? Your students are not taking lessons with you just so you can show them random stuff on guitar. They come to you in order to get a very specific ‘result’ or ‘solution’. You must help them get this by creating a highly personalized strategy for each student.

The majority of guitar teachers make the all-too-common mental error of teaching random guitar playing information/licks/songs to their students because they think this is what they are supposed to do as ‘good teachers’. On the contrary, you must design a specific strategy around your students’ unique goals to truly help them make progress on guitar.

In order to do this, you must do three main things:

1. Stop focusing on finding new ‘things to teach’ and start looking for ways to help your students accomplish their specific guitar playing goals.

2. Know how to analyze the ‘symptoms’ of problems that your students share with you and identify the core problems that must be solved.

3. Become effective at guiding your students toward their highest musical goals.

To attain total clarity on these ideas, get trained to teach guitar.

Question #5: 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. Your students cannot differentiate between the things they ‘want’ to learn and the things they ‘need’ to learn. Certainly your students should be allowed to tell you what they ‘want’ to learn, but because they are inexperienced, it is impossible for them to know what they ‘ought’ to be learning to accomplish their goals. Students will do more harm than god by trying to dictate to you how to teach them.

Don’t expect your students to understand what they ‘ought to be’ learning. Get started teaching guitar effectively so you can help them take their skills to the highest level in little time.

Question #6: What Is The Best Way To Approach Teaching Make Up Lessons?

This is a very common question asked by guitar teachers. Unfortunately, no matter what answer you get to this question, you will end up damaging your guitar teaching business. True experts who have achieved massive success in their guitar teaching businesses will tell you that you should a) never teach make up lessons and b) completely abandon the idea of using a lesson cancellation policy. There are countless reasons why teaching make up lessons will ruin your guitar teaching business. Here are just two:

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. Students who take guitar lessons with you will lose respect for you when they think they can skip lessons/be late/etc. whenever they feel like it. These types of students will not feel a strong incentive to apply what they learn from your lessons and become great players. In the end, this will result in you filling up your guitar teaching schedule with mediocre, unmotivated students.

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: How Do I Market My Guitar Lessons In A Terrible 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 massive success use the same marketing strategies no matter how well the economy is doing. Rather than asking how you should change your advertising/marketing approach in relation to the economy, you should learn the most effective way to build your guitar teaching business in any economic condition. Then, you must use that approach religiously throughout the year. This is the best and only way to make sure that your business will continue to expand as teachers in your local area lose more and more students when the economy struggles.

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. Read through and study the resources mentioned in this article so you can understand how to become the #1 guitar teacher in your area.

2. Think about the topic discussed in each of the questions above and think creatively to come up with better, ‘high quality’ questions based on the advice I gave for each one.

Once you have followed these steps you will massively accelerate your progress toward becoming a successful guitar teacher and put yourself light years ahead of the competition.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a professional guitar teacher, composer and the guitar player. He shows guitar teachers from around the world how to make money teaching guitar. On his website tomhess.net, you can find guitar teacher resources, and guitar teaching articles.