How to Become a Guitar Teacher

How to Become a Guitar Teacher: The Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered how to become a guitar teacher?

How would you even begin? What kind of gear would you need? Where would you find students?

Even if you’ve got the guitar playing ability, there are a hundred other logistical factors that you need to keep in mind before you can actually become a guitar teacher.

But if you’re ready to take that next step, start passing on your knowledge to others, and earn some extra cash, then keep reading.

In this article, you’ll learn exactly how to become a guitar teacher. We’ll cover everything you need to know including necessary qualifications, gear, skills and more. We’ll also discuss how to go about advertising your services so you can actually acquire your first students.

Let’s get started!

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Guitar Teacher?

If you’re concerned that you are not qualified to become a guitar teacher, then worry not.

There are no set qualifications that prevent you from being able to teach guitar.

You don’t need any special licenses, degrees, business documents, or anything like that.

All you’ll need are the skills required to teach and students who are willing to pay you for your services (Once you start making significant money, you’ll need to start worrying about taxes and potentially starting an LLC, but we’ll save that for another day).

One thing to keep in mind, however, is the more credible sources of music knowledge and education you do have will make you more qualified in the public eye.

A degree or certificate in music education, independent references from previous students and a business presence are good to have.

While it’s not a requirement, keep in mind that you’ll still need to acquire students.

If you don’t have any proof that you know what you’re talking about, good luck convincing them to give you money to teach them.

More on this late in the post when we talk about advertising your services.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Guitar Teacher?

While you don’t need any specific licenses or degrees to become a guitar teacher, skill, on the other hand, is something you do need.

At least, if you want to maintain a student roster that is.

The more you know, the more you can bring to the table, to teach guitar.

Here is a list of skills that you should possess to be a good and effective teacher:

Rudiments of the Guitar

This would be knowing the proper name of each part of a guitar, positioning the guitar, holding the pick, note names on the fretboard, how to strum,  and so on. This is ground zero for students and the place to start good technique, and stop bad habits from ever forming.

Music Theory

While music theory isn’t always necessary to become a good guitar player, it’s almost always necessary to become a good guitar teacher.

It just makes it a lot easier to communicate with other musicians, which is essential when it comes to teaching guitar lessons.

Depending on the goal and level of the student, you should have music theory knowledge well above that of the student.

You should be able to communicate that knowledge that is easily digestible for the level they are on.

Keep in mind, some students may not want formal music theory, and that is ok. You can slip music theory into lessons without it being obvious.

Technical Ability

The ability to demonstrate what you are teaching is key.

You need to be able to play what you are teaching  – cleanly, confidently, and at multiple tempos.

You also need to explain and answer any questions about the “why” that in-evidently come up.

At any point, you need to consistently do better, what you are showing your student. 

Teaching

As I previously mentioned, you don’t need to be a board-certified teacher or have a degree to teach guitar.

However, having skills such as being organized, having printed/printable learning materials, a schedule, and most importantly, effective communication, is key to being a successful and desirable teacher.

As previously stated, if you do have music education, it is beneficial to both you and the student but is not necessary.

More importantly, being able to effectively communicate your message in a way that a newbie can understand is essential when it comes to becoming a guitar teacher.

Patience

Remember, students are coming to you for your instruction.

They are new to guitar, haven’t been playing long, or need a kick start after a hiatus. They look up to you for guidance and instruction

Take your time!

It is better to a have a student play one phrase over and over, and not show your frustrations, than to have them rush through an entire song haphazardly. Nobody wins.

Wisdom

I only want to point out that not all students are a good fit for a given teachers’ approach, or they may outgrow you, which happens.

While I know a teacher wants to keep the student on the roster, for economic reasons,  passing a student off to a teacher that is a better fit is sometimes best.

If you are a good teacher there will be another student just around the corner.

Enthusiasm

Keep in mind that when you’re teaching a student guitar, it’s your job to inspire them to play.

You are the main source of exposure to the instrument, so how you teach can essentially make or break their entire experience and determine whether they continue learning the instrument or give up.

It’s a huge responsibility.

If you don’t show the proper enthusiasm, it’ll show and reflect negatively on your students.

If you are excited to teach and show your students how fun and rewarding it can be to learn the guitar, then they’ll be much more likely to see it through to the end, even when it gets challenging.

Business

Having education in business, accounting and all things related to running your own business are very useful skills, especially starting out.

There may not be capital available to hire anyone, but somebody needs to know how to file taxes and constitutes a write-off.

Until you have enough students to warrant hiring, setting up and maintaining your business will keep what you are doing organized and official.

Setting yourself up as a legitimate business will not only make you more credible but can open the door to partnerships with schools and music stores.

What Equipment Do You Need to Become a Guitar Teacher?

Your equipment needs are more than just your own guitar and amplifier.

Having multiple guitars and amps are useful for your student to play through and in case of a malfunction. Make sure your own equipment is working and maintained.

Other useful equipment or gear would be:

  • extra tuners
  • chairs
  • sheet music stands
  • multiple guitar stands
  • extra picks and strings
  • writing materials – pens, paper, blank sheet music

It would be beneficial to have a personal computer, laptop or other devices (iPad, Android tablet, etc) for communicating with your students, keeping track of schedules, and to store lesson plans and learning materials.

A printer is useful for one-off print jobs, but to have a pro edge, consider having your learning materials professionally printed,  bound, and personalized/branded.  

Where to Find Guitar Teaching Opportunities

Where can you teach? Local or chain music stores have good opportunities for teaching guitar as they are often the gateway to students. Stores may charge a fee to rent space or some other financial agreement.

This is a great way to get started, get experience, and build a student roster. Make sure you are able to take your students and/or your contacts if you decide to leave a music store.

Another avenue is to teach in your own space. This can be in a rented space, teach out of your home, traveling to students directly, or a combination of any or all of these.

If you decide to teach out of your home, make a dedicated space for teaching, keep it professional looking and appropriate for kids and parents.

Teaching in your own space is the most cost-effective but remember some of your students may be under legal driving age, or their parents will want you to come to their home. Make sure you have reliable transportation.

Networking is a great way to find teaching opportunities. Letting your musician friends, family, and other people you know is a great way to find students. We all know somebody who just bought a guitar. If someone knows you teach, they’ll be inclined to recommend you.

How to Advertise Guitar Lesson Services

Promoting yourself is easier, but more competitive, than ever. There are so many outlets it can be overwhelming. You are able to get the word out about your services from the comfort of your own home, but so do all of the other guitar teachers so you need to use as many outlets as you can. Let’s start with some basics:

Ads in Music Stores

Most music stores or music venues still have bulletin boards. Something simple and to the point. Get permission to post your flyers from the business, and if you get an inquiry, ask them where they saw the ad at.

It helps you know where your traffic is coming from. If you are getting a lot of inquiries from your Local Guitar Store, it might be worth your time to visit the store and discuss a referral program where you’ll refer all of your students to them in exchange for initiated referrals to you on new guitar sales, including a stuffer/flyer that they can put in with their paperwork. 

Pass Along Your Information Digitally

Saying that, have a dedicated email address that is easy to remember and relevant to teaching guitar.

Make sure you check your email throughout the day, morning, afternoon and evening preferably.

Reply in a timely manner, same business day, no later than the next business day. These students are looking to someone and maybe emailing 2-3 teachers at ones. Don’t miss your shot! 

Note: Make sure you have a professional email address. Having an email address like Xgiggles4Beer420X@email.com is probably not appropriate or professional. john.doe.guitar@email.com or something related to your name and music would be best. Be creative!

Pass Around Business Cards

As outdated as it might sound, passing out business cards still works.

If you are passing someone on the street, they’re a kid, don’t have a cell phone/battery is dead, or it’s just not convenient, hand them your card and it’s done.

Nothing fancy, basic contact info and simple branding and inexpensive. If any contact information changes, make sure to get new cards printed ASAP!

Use Social Media

Websites like Craigslist, local music message boards, and Social Media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are a great way to advertise.

Social Media has the advantage of you being readily accessible, plus you can engage with an audience, but they all serve a purpose.

If you are posting a lesson on online forums, it is best to be an active part of that community. Nobody likes a spammer.

How to Build Your Brand as a Guitar Teacher

There are many people teaching guitar, so what can YOU bring to the table that others can’t. Finding your area of expertise and promoting that is a great place to start.

You can teach most players, but if you specialize in a certain area you can build a reputation as “the teacher everyone goes to for _______”.

Here are some tips:

Find Your Niche

Teaching guitar is teaching the fundamentals of an instrument.

However, carving out a niche for yourself is a way to specialize, but also much higher chances of enjoying what you are teaching.

If your strong point is Heavy Metal then marketing yourself in those circles, attending shows with those kinds of bands are probably good places to start.

As your students grow, word of mouth will travel outside of that genre into others.

Know Your Target Students.

Your personality, talent and style as a musician play a big part of this. This ties into finding your niche but it can’t be emphasized enough to take on more like-minded students than not. This will prevent boredom and burnout. 

Create a presence. Networking at shows, making stops at the local music stores, always making sure people know your name and what you do. Be a familiar face.

Again, be casual. Don’t always make it about your services. Most of the time these opportunities create themselves, just being there helps take advantage of them. 

Note: Always watch what you say and how you say it. Your reputation is on the line. You can be a talented teacher, but if you are a jerk not many people will want anything to do with you. 

Accept Criticism And Feedback

You can only grow if you’re willing to work on what others bring to your attention.

There is a saying “if one person calls you unreasonable, ignore it. if ten people say you are unreasonable, it’s time to evaluate yourself”.

Frequently ask your students “How am I doing? what can I do to make our time together better?”. This feedback will take you to the next level. Teaching and talent are one thing, content delivery is another.

Once you figure this out, you have to market yourself.

Besides ads and websites, a sizzle reel video showcasing your talents as a performer and teacher is something to consider.

Going the extra step and hiring a videographer to help you write and direct one would look professional.

You then promote this video on the aforementioned website and Social Media outlets and if you want to really step it up, your own website. Having even just a free hosted website can give you a home for your services.

You can direct anyone there that will answer any questions about services, rates, availability, as well as having your sizzle reel and paid content such as the option for online guitar lessons and course you might sell.   

How to Teach Guitar Lessons Online

With the internet, sometimes teaching guitar to someone 2000 miles away is easier than teaching someone on the other side of your own neighborhood.

It also allows for more flexibility due to schedule conflicts and transportation issues. Skype is the most popular form for this, although there are others.

As previously stated, it is best to have a dedicated account just for lessons. This also ties into branding and presence.

Another form of lessons that can generate students is online courses.

You have the ability to teach on focused areas of playing such as timing, improvisation, or specific genres of music like Heavy Metal, Blues or Jazz.

Once you are established these can sell themselves, plus there are many websites who will host the content and handle the transaction for a fee. 

Online courses are unique in that once you produce the content, the work is done, aside from promoting it.

The good thing is that you can host these on your own website and set up an E-cart for purchases. If you are not web-savvy, it is probably best to have someone build you a website for these things.

How Much Do Guitar Teachers Make on Average?

Rates for teaching guitar vary from state to state, and city to city, but you can expect to make $30-$70 for an hour lesson.

The cost of guitar lessons can vary depending on your skill level, area you live in, and how many other teachers are in your area and even as specific to what you are teaching.

For every 20 Blues guitar teachers, there are probably 1 who specializes in Classical.

Online lesson rates will vary and rates tend to but less than in-person lessons, and have seen them in the $20-$60 range, but a more established and in-demand teacher, the rates can be much higher.

Realistically, 6-8 students per day should be your max and how many days you’ll want to teach depends on your other commitments.

If all you want to do is teach, and not gig or do recording sessions, you could teach 5-6 days per week. 

Is Becoming a Guitar Teacher a Good Career?

Any profession that relies on selling yourself, retention, and the local economy can be stressful, but very rewarding as the sky can be the limit.

It depends on your commitment to teaching and hustling. If you love music, teaching, and being your own boss, I can’t think of a more rewarding job to do.

You have to ask yourself  – “Would I be happier making money that may fluctuate and doing what I love, or have a guaranteed salary but be working outside of music for someone else?”.

If you’re passionate about playing guitar and want to do it as a profession, becoming a teacher is much more stable than, say, becoming a famous musician.

It can be very lucrative if you’re good at it and know how to market your services but keep in mind that the pay will fluctuate.

Teaching is not for everyone.

Tips for People Who Want to Become a Guitar Teacher

If you want to teach guitar, it requires talent, passion, hard work and professionalism, which have been covered throughout this article. One tip I can’t emphasize enough is patience.

Remember, your students are typically new, and/or facing a lot of challenges that you overcame a long time ago. Be personable, funny and anecdotal.

Telling a student with a challenge “Yeah, that F bar chord was one of the hardest things I had to tackle when starting out, but I did it” is helpful, and it normalizes their own feelings.

Lastly, make it fun. Nobody wants to feel like it’s a chore to learn something that is supposed to be a creative outlet.

If you have found that you are the one fellow musicians go to for help with their playing because you are knowledgeable and easy to work with, chances are you may be guitar teacher material.  

Conclusion

Being a guitar teacher can be a great way to make a living while staying connected to music, but it also requires being organized, professional, putting in a lot of hours and wearing a lot of hats.

If you are a good communicator, are understanding and have a passion for teaching, love of music, and helping others, there are students out there looking for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you make as a guitar teacher?

On average, guitar teachers can expect to make between $30-$70 per hour for a lesson

Do you need a license to teach guitar?

No, you do not need any predefined qualifications to teach guitar. Qualifications do, however, help you acquire students because they help you prove that you know what you’re talking about.

How do you advertise guitar lessons?

You can advertise your guitar lessons by leveraging social media, putting up posts, handing out business cards, offering free promotional lessons, joining local communities, and much more.

Is becoming a guitar teacher a good career?

If you’re passionate about playing guitar and want to do it as a profession, becoming a teacher is much more stable than, say, becoming a famous musician. It can be very lucrative if you’re good at it and know how to market your services but keep in mind that the pay will fluctuate.

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