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How to become a guitar teacher

Updated on December 9, 2014

Introduction

Becoming a guitar teacher could be the best decision you make as a guitarist. It provides a potentially reliable additional income, puts you in control of your career, and provides an all-year-round income that seasonal performance related work may not.

Step one

The first step to becoming a guitar teacher is very easy: make the decision.

To teach guitar there is no formal qualification required. So, in theory at least, the moment you decide to be a guitar teacher, then you are one.

Promoting yourself as a guitar teacher

Of course, just saying you are a guitar teacher won't get you very far. Even if you are the best player in the world, if people don't know you exist then you won't get any students. You must have a website that presents you as a credible guitar teacher. This could be as simple as having a photograph of you with your guitar and your contact details. Having said that, a little more detail could go a long way such as having a clip of you playing, or additional information on your career and experience so far as a musician.

There is a wealth of information online about how to build a website. If technical computer work doesn't appeal then approach a colleague or friend instead.

Preparing guitar teaching material

You could, in theory, just sit and talk to students about different aspects of guitar playing, occasionally demonstrating parts. This is unlikely to make for high quality guitar tuition though. You students will be paying you good money and they expect tangible material. So, the reality is that you need to prepare teaching material.

Your teaching material depends a little on what your specialist style of music is. If you are non-classical this may well mean chord-based repertoire, chord shapes, riff-based repertoire, technique exercises, explanations of theory, etc.

You do not have to prepare an entire library of teaching material in advance. Start with the essentials and continue to build your material over time. At the very least, you must have a solid body of material to give to beginners - who will most likely be the guitar students that approach you.

Tailor guitar lessons to the individual

Not all your guitar students will want to learn the same thing. There is inevitably some common ground that all students must cover. Where possible, however, you should adapt what you teach to the individual and their specific needs. You must learn to identify issues that your students have, and try to correct them. This could be problems with technique, timing, posture, creativity, etc.

Don't try to fix everything at the same time

In the early days of learning an instrument, there is a lot to think about. Learn to identify the most important issues that need correcting and deal with them one at a time. If you highlight everything that a student needs to improve on, all at the same time, then the tasks could easily seem overwhelming. If this happens then you could lose your student. This is a disaster for them and for you.

Accept shortcomings in certain areas whilst you try to improve issues in others. Trying to address timing, left hand technique, right technique, dynamics, etc, all at the same time is too much for an individual to deal with.

Becoming a guitar teacher is an excellent career option for guitarists.

Developing your skills as a guitar teacher

Nobody gets everything right first time. Just as with an other career, your guitar teaching skills will continue to develop as you gain more experience. It's essential that you reflect on your guitar teaching and identify what you can improve on. What went well during that guitar lesson? Is there any teaching material that you are lacking? Do you talk to quickly? Could you improve the way you explain certain areas?

Long-term success as a guitar teacher

To survive financially in the long-term you must deliver good quality lessons that keep your students coming back to you for more. Apart from continuing to create good teaching material, this means you must be professional:

  • Running guitar lessons to time
  • Never cancelling lessons at the last minute
  • Conducting yourself professionally
  • Maintaining a pleasant environment to deliver your guitar lessons
  • Keeping accurate records of your students' guitar lessons

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