The challenge with group teaching for guitar teachers starting out.
This is one of the major challenges for almost all guitar teachers starting out and is why very few ever escape the hourly rate trap. The hourly rate trap is where you charge a student for your time. In other words its like a job and the only way to increase your earnings is to charge your student more. Group lessons solve this problem but of course present a new problem. How to firstly find enough students to make group teaching viable and secondly what is the actual process for matching students who are roughly the same level and age who can come at the same time. I know it seems like a big and almost impossible challenge but here is how I solved it.
No private lessons.
When I started the first G4 Guitar School in 2005 I decided that I was only going to do group and did not offer private lessons. I did however start all new students on a 5 week private introduction. The reason I did not offer private lessons after the intro is because I only wanted students who were willing to learn in groups. My goal was to earn a higher hourly income and group teaching was the best way to achieve that goal. My strategy was as follows.
5 week introduction
Introduce students to my lessons via a private lessons for 5 weeks. This allowed me to explain how my program worked but also allowed both my student and myself and often parents to get to know each other and build trust. By the end of the 5 weeks they were usually ready to join a group. I also charged the student at a group rate as a special offer for the first 5 weeks.
When I started I naturally only had a handful of students. My groups actually started out as one person groups. I would say to a student that their group time was for example on Tuesday at 4pm but because it was a new group they would be on their own at first. I would only charge them at a group rate. In the first few months most of my groups consisted of only one or two students but 6 months later my average group had 4 students. My groups were 30 minutes and I had a maximum of 5 (sometimes 6) students in a group. This meant I was earning 3 to 4 times more than I would have as a private teacher.
Patience and faith
The difficult part for myself and of course any teacher starting out is having the faith that the students will come. There is no guarantee of course but if you consider the alternative (the private hourly rate trap) its well worth the risk. The fact is group teaching will allow you to charge less and therefore attract more students at a faster rate. Your groups will likely fill much faster than your private lessons. If you consider that most guitar teachers teach privately so they need to charge at a private rate. If your lessons are lets say 20% below the private rate you will attract the lion’s share of inquiries. Sure a lot of them will want private lessons but if you offer a 5 week private introduction that will give you a chance to convince them that your group program will not only save them money but is superior to your competition.