Are You A Typical Guitar Teacher?

What is a typical guitar teacher? How do you know if you are typical? Well I have been working with guitar teachers for over 30 years. I started out a guitar student of course and went to many teachers myself. In the 1980’s I started my first music school and over the years hired many guitar teachers. I then created a guitar teacher network and now work with guitar teachers around the world. On any given day I probably speak to 2 or 3 guitar teachers so I have a pretty good idea of what a typical guitar teacher looks like.

A typical guitar teacher
Here is what I believe a typical guitar teacher looks like. The typical guitar teacher teaches privately and teaches 30 students (15 hours) or less. Very few teachers are fully booked and of the few that are their earnings are still relatively low. Many guitar teachers are very forgiving (yet frustrated) when students miss lessons and either credit the lesson or do a make up. The large majority of guitar students are children and children tend not to take lessons during school holidays. This means most guitar teachers lose 50% or more of their income for around 12 weeks a year. The average guitar teacher charges around $50 per hour. So how does this look annually in terms of earnings? 40 weeks a year teaching 15 hours at $50 per hour equals $30,000. At least 10%  of lessons are cancelled which brings that amount down to $27,000.

What are you really earning?
Don’t get too excited just yet. $27,000 does not take into account your expenses such as marketing, rent (which may or may not apply depending on your circumstances), phone bill, stationary & supplies, insurance, accountant fees, legal fees. At even the most conservative estimate you would be looking at $5000 a year. Lets look at your time. 15 hours of teaching does not take into account timetable gaps, preparation, administration etc. In most cases you can double the hours so this means the average guitar teacher earns $22,000 per year which works out to $423 per week. For 40 weeks a year they need to be working around 30 hours a week. The hourly rate ends up at about $14 per hour.   Not good.

The good news
While I have painted a very grim picture of the typical guitar teacher I should point out that not every teacher is typical. There are also extraordinary teachers and being extraordinary is actually a choice. You can certainly be typical but that is your choice. The choice to be an extra-ordinary teacher will require you to do things differently but the end result is far better. I spent years being a typical guitar teacher but then I decided to be extraordinary.

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