What Parents Look For In A Guitar Teacher

 As both a teacher and parent I believe the number one thing parents look for is a positive role model for their child. This trumps your guitar talent, price, your program and really anything you can think of. If you really want to drive student referrals you need to be the kind of person that parents tell other parents about. This led me to the question of what I did and why I received so many referrals from parents. The answer is surprisingly simple but eludes most teachers. To explain we need to take a step back.

Children model behaviour
I think we can assume that all parents hope, that when their children grow up they will still have a good relationship. Sadly, we know this is not always the case. Many children grow apart from their parents. Some even despise their parents once they reach a certain age. Parents who recognise the fact that their children model behaviour from the adults in their lives will choose teachers based on a certain criteria. This is where you come in and this is a very important point. Parents seek out teachers who best represent the kind of adult they would like their child to be when they grow up. If you fit that model, parents will naturally gravitate toward you. Of course that leads us to the next question.

What behaviour do parents really want their children to model?
The ideal role model for a parent is someone who has a strong, positive relationship with their own parents. Seems simple right? But, very few teachers actually get this fact or what it actually means. Some teachers will even say to me “What does that have to do with teaching their child to play guitar?” My answer is “Everything”. You might be the greatest guitar teacher on the planet but, if a parent views you as a negative role model you’ll never even get the chance to show them. Talking about the positive aspects of your relationship with your parents shows parents that you value the parent/child relationship. It shows you are a grateful and loving daughter or son. Sometimes parents will not even be consciously aware. They will just sense you are good for their child. In turn, they will tell other parents what a great teacher you are.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Charlie Bucket was in many ways the ideal child but not by chance. He had loving parents and grandparents. I personally believe the story became a hit because it resonated with both parents and children. Children loved the idea of a chocolate factory full of wonder and surprise. Adults on the other hand appreciated the lessons. Charlie was a positive role model and the hero of the story. Contrasting him against horrible, selfish, spoilt children made Charlie even more appealing. While children (myself being one at the time) drooled over the sweets, parents were hoping their children would adopt the kind hearted qualities of Charlie. As we know the story became an all time best seller due to its parent and child appeal.

Share your stories
Telling your own stories about how good your parents were/are to you while also supporting parents and, talking them up in front of their children increases parent confidence in you. The bottom line is you are strengthening the parent/child relationship which means you are a positive influence in their lives. This positive influence quickly spreads. My parents and grandparents while not perfect, played a very positive role in my life and still do. When talking to parents I would unwittingly share my own stories about how lucky I was to have such great parents and grandparents. I was totally unaware of what I was doing and it was only in hindsight that I came to understand why I ended up with so many young students. It turns out that sharing these stories helped the parents to see that I was someone who was very grateful to my parents.

What if you hate your parents?
I would recommend looking for the positives anyway. Very few people are all bad. Your parents probably did the best they could under the circumstances. If your parents just happen to be pure evil may I suggest that, you just talk about someone else in your family who was good to you. Talking down your parents won’t help your cause. Best to look for positives wherever possible and forgive your parents for their past deeds. I am sure they have a story. So if you want parents to flock to you become a good role model by sharing your own positive stories about your parents.
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