Why Guitar Teaching Is Not What It Used To Be

I am in the privileged position of being able to speak with guitar teachers from around the world almost everyday. Many complain that the business of teaching guitar is not what it used to be and some have been forced to quit or find other sources of income. I hear comments like “10 years ago I was getting inquiries every week. Now its more like one or two a month.”

What has changed in the last 10 years? 

The obvious answer is the Internet or more precisely YouTube and social media. YouTube and social media alone have empowered guitar students with a plethora of information on how to learn guitar with relative ease. Teachers who are surprised at the drop in demand shouldn’t be. We should in fact be wondering why anyone would bother looking for a real teacher anymore. I know I know, I have heard the many arguments from guitar teachers. “Nothing beats a real teacher” and “The Internet is full of errors”. Come on! Lets get serious. Students don’t care about what we teachers think. Like any consumer they care about value and convenience.

The enemy is denial

As teachers we can jump up and down and complain all we like. We can vent our frustrations about why students should be paying us to learn oppose the self-teaching online but its pure denial. Students don’t actually care about our problems. The first step therefore is to accept there is a problem. We then need to take action. To address the problem why not attack it by doing what we do best. Educate.

Educate them on the unique benefits of a teacher

This can be done via your marketing or in conversation. In my experience there are 3 main benefits that appeal to most people that many are not even aware of.
  1. Critical feedback. Watching someone on a video is not the same as having an expert in front of us. This is important for people to understand because it can save them a lot of time and in many cases avoid them quitting altogether.
  2. Emotional support. Learning a musical instrument is probably 1 part skill work and 4 parts emotional management. Managing our own emotions can be difficult. Having emotional support helps students to push through those days when they feel its not worth it. Good teachers know when and how to deliver emotional support in the right doses.
  3. Accountability. Being accountable to someone is often severely undervalued. Top athletes, sports teams etc wouldn’t even consider operating without a coach to keep their feet to the fire. Great coaches don’t allow their students to make excuses.
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