Why Most Guitar Teachers Struggle To Become Successful

Many people teach guitar, but few become successful. Most guitar teachers struggle to earn more than $40,000 per year and have few (or no) really good students.

Truth is, anyone can become successful as a guitar teacher… including you. It’s very realistic to earn a 6-figure income teaching guitar, working part-time.

Question: “Wait a minute Tom Hess! If it’s so easy, why aren’t more teachers doing it?”

Answer: Most guitar teachers don’t know about or don’t choose to do the simple things that make big success possible.

Here are 3 reasons why most guitar instructors struggle to become successful and what you can learn from them:

Reason #1: Most guitar teachers aren’t motivated to become really successful. Most teachers simply teach guitar to avoid getting a real job. They see teaching guitar as a way to earn a living vs. a gateway to massive wealth and success in their lives.

Lesson for you: Your attitude and motivation make or break your success. You must have real ambition towards reaching your goals.

Reason #2: Most guitar instructors don’t understand how to run a real business. They focus all their efforts on teaching guitar and do little to:

-Build systems for attracting a lot of guitar students all year long.

-Create rock-solid lesson policies that make your business run like a machine and help you focus more energy on providing value to your students.

-Improving their guitar teaching skills to provide more value to their students than any other guitar teacher in their area can.

Note: Your teaching skills don’t improve (much) by simply teaching guitar for a long time. You improve as a guitar teacher by getting training on how to teach guitar better. This is what all successful guitar teachers do. Their efforts create an opportunity for them to dominate their competition and become hugely successful.

Reason #3: Most guitar instructors don’t have any great students. They are content to have average students who get mediocre results from their guitar lessons. This attitude creates a lose-lose situation. Your guitar students fail to reach their musical goals fully and you struggle to earn as much money as you can and should be earning.

Lesson for you: to become a successful guitar teacher, you must be ambitious and not willing to settle for being less than you can be. Your mindset determines the actions you take to build your guitar teaching business and the results you achieve.

How To Be A Well-Rounded Musician

A well-rounded musician is someone that embraces a variety of musical styles and skills in such a way that each musical style musical skill becomes a natural part of their performance identity. It is the aspiration of all teachers to be able to encourage their students to appreciate these various skills; this offers opportunities to each student to embody all of the elements to enrich their musical journey.

You might be asking yourself, “what are some of the skills associated with being a well-rounded musician?” The following list will offer some insight:

1. Playing in a variety of styles.

Learning to play in one particular style works for most students yet from time to time, students become antsy to learn new skills. A good music instructor will allow students to try out a variety of styles of music during their studies such as classical, pop, rock, jazz, country, improvisation, or writing original pieces. It is important to note that all students will have their own personal limitations of musical appreciation or physical ability. As such, not all students will embrace every style of music that is available to them. It is the job of the music instructor to appreciate the interests of the student and cater the lessons around the styles of music that will speak to the student. In all of the lessons that I teach, I encourage all students to learn at least one piece a year in a style that they might not otherwise wish to play: students that are studying jazz music must learn to play a piece of classical music and vice versa.

2. Reading music and playing by ear.

In the music studio of every teacher, we work with a variety of students that all have a variety of musical talents. Some students are strong readers, they can naturally see the music on the page and decipher the code to play the music on their instrument. Other students have a natural interest and talent for listening to the music that they play. These students listen well to the music that is around them and can naturally perform these sounds in a coherent way on their instrument.

In both cases, each student has mastered an important skill, yet these skills offer only a certain amount of success. In my personal journey, I have learned the steps that are necessary to amalgamate the skills of listening to my playing while reading the music on the page. This amalgamation creates not only a technically proficient performance, a sensitivity to the performance by listening to the music being created creates a further dimension that goes beyond what is written on the page.

3. Appreciation of working in a group setting vs. solo setting

Pianists are trained from the first lesson to work as soloists. Let’s face it, the piano is an instrument that can hold its’ own, it is a lone wolf. I remember in highschool having the opportunity to play music in a variety of group settings. I was a trombone player in my high school concert band, I was piano accompanist for my high school concert choir.

I also had summer jobs working as a pit musician for a local theater company playing keyboard 2 parts (synthesizers, strings sounds, etc). These activities were a lot of fun that required the same style of practicing that I completed on the piano. The outcome of a solo practice session on my trombone was different at home, I was playing only one melodic line. This activity (at times) was tedious, it was lonely. However, when all of the members of the concert band got together for rehearsal or for a performance, all of the parts came together to create beautiful music.

Encouraging students to join a band, work together in small ensembles, or to play duets offers a different series of opportunities and challenges that will enrich their learning environment. Each musician has the opportunity to enjoy working together in a group to collectively make music that is meaningful for each other. It is also a lot of fun!