How to get started teaching?
I know this has been addressed some on these forums, but I'm wondering if you could offer some advice on what specifically I should do to get started teaching guitar?
I've been playing for around 15 years and I know what I'm doing, but I'm not a virtuoso. I love playing and I love teaching but I haven't taught guitar before. I have experience working with kids and I've got a moderate level of music theory.
I'm in Austin, Texas, which intimidates me a bit, since I kinda feel like everyone here knows how to play already! :)
What should I do to start? Should I work from a book, like a Mel Bay book?
I've had people suggest that I contact music stores about working with them to teach, is that a worthwhile approach?
Thanks for any pointers. It would mean a hell of a lot to me to be able to make this work.
Working with music stores is a very good way to get students.
Ads in local school papers have worked well for me, as have adds in the local weekly local news.
I've not had much luck from posters and flyers.
But every area is different. You'll need to experiment and figure out where the students are, and get them to call you. That's the hard part about starting.
Once you've got some regular students, start offering them 2 free lessons if they recommend a friend to sign up for at least 1 lesson. Word of mouth for me has always been the best advertising.
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST
We found the music school that we signed my son up for via a flyer we got in the mail.
The school happens to be in our neighbourhood, and they sent flyers to the local area, not the entire city.
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep
I've been teaching guitar full-time for four years. My first few students were passed on to me from a friend who teaches guitar and didn't have room in his schedule. I also started teaching in an after-school program at a local private elementary school--I would teach 1/2 hour lessons to kids while they waited for their parents to pick them up.
But the way I filled my schedule was by 1) Getting a good logo, 2) Building a website with the logo on it, and 3) posting hundreds of flyers with my great-looking logo all over the higher-income neighborhoods near my place--in coffee shops, gyms, stores, and on telephone poles.
A professional-looking logo immediately sets you apart from 90% of other guitar teachers. It shows potential clients you're serious about your work. I got mine done for $200, but I would have done it even if it'd cost $10,000.
Now, my website brings in most of my clients. If you're into computers, study up on search engine optimization. Most guitar teachers don't use websites, and those who do still don't do much to make their websites attractive to people searching for "Guitar lessons in Austin". Try Googling those keywords for your hometown and see what comes up--nothing that you couldn't compete with, I'll bet.
I've done other things that prepared me to teach guitar, like getting a degree in education and teaching in high school. But I think the most important thing I've done to make the business work--to set myself apart from most teachers--is simply to communicate my enthusiasm for teaching. For example, so often you see teachers say "I only take motivated students" in their ads. First of all, all people who contact you for lessons are motivated in some way, but no beginner knows for sure if they'll continue to be motivated--it depends on how things go in the lessons. Secondly, the message I get from "I only take motivated students" is, "It's your job as a student to keep me interested in teaching you." Who's paying who?
Instead, I tell my students, "Learning a new instrument can be discouraging. I'm going to do what I can to make this fun and not-too-hard." Of course, the student will get more out of lessons if they practice a lot, but they know that. And I don't mind teaching students who rarely practice. For some of my clients who are overworked during the day, their guitar lesson is a rare opportunity to relax. If I can help them take their mind off their worries by showing them how to play "Brown-Eyed Girl" for the 5th time, I'm honored.
Finally, as far as your own guitar skills go--just be clear with your students about what you're good at teaching. When I began teaching, guitar was just a hobby for me, so I worked just with beginners. Now I have some more advanced students. Nothing like teaching to make you practice harder!