Help building out my lesson business?

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
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13,680
What things have some of you more successful guitar teachers done to build out your independent guitar lesson businesses? I am looking for local people to do live lessons (I prefer to get away from Zoom) and also I am not looking for students here in TGP, so don't worry about giving me your best ideas if you fish here.

I work out of my house and I have a good website, but I guess I need to get more people to look at it. Right now I have just four solid students and I would like to at least double that if I can.

I guess I need advice on "how to get your business listed in Nextdoor" and "how to advertise lessons on Craigslist and Facebook".
 

vintagelove

Member
Messages
3,192
Getting myself into schools was the best teaching decision I could have made. Constant flow of students, good pay (sometimes the school even collects the money so no dealing with BS), good clientele.

Many states require education degrees, but you can certainly find a private school who will work with you.


Also, I don't know if you play any other instruments, but teaching multiple instruments is always desirable for those hiring. One guy who can teach anybody that walks in the door is an attractive hire for a small music store.

Hope that helps.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,680
Thanks for the input and that is definitely good advice. Unfortunately here in North County San Diego, we have a TON of really good players and teachers. The schools I have visited tell me they have had the same teachers for decades and see no reason to change anything. There are probably four or five "School of Rock" type places here, it is kind of like a mini-Hollywood scene around here.

I would like to teach in a school, even classroom-type stuff for theory, but really no one wants that.

I think I just need to reach more local individuals looking to learn.

I do play bass pretty well (though lacking in the more specific techniques like slapping) and can noodle on piano. I am an accomplished recording engineer, But really my best asset is teaching people how to learn - encouraging practice, analyzing their fingers technique, how to count and how to hear the count. etc.
 

vintagelove

Member
Messages
3,192
Thanks for the input and that is definitely good advice. Unfortunately here in North County San Diego, we have a TON of really good players and teachers. The schools I have visited tell me they have had the same teachers for decades and see no reason to change anything. There are probably four or five "School of Rock" type places here, it is kind of like a mini-Hollywood scene around here.

I would like to teach in a school, even classroom-type stuff for theory, but really no one wants that.

I think I just need to reach more local individuals looking to learn.

I do play bass pretty well (though lacking in the more specific techniques like slapping) and can noodle on piano. I am an accomplished recording engineer, But really my best asset is teaching people how to learn - encouraging practice, analyzing their fingers technique, how to count and how to hear the count. etc.

Nothing wrong with the school of rock type places. They've probably largely replaced the music store teachers of our generation. Probably for the better too.


As far as reaching locals, make some well done YouTube videos of yourself playing and advertise on craigslist. Having a low price helps too.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
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13,680
That has been my approach so far ;-)

I feel like I need a little more comprehensive strategy, but I do appreciate your help so far. As I said, they don't seem to want anyone new. How did you get started teaching in schools?
 

jogogonne

Member
Messages
1,625
Getting myself into schools was the best teaching decision I could have made. Constant flow of students, good pay (sometimes the school even collects the money so no dealing with BS), good clientele.

Many states require education degrees, but you can certainly find a private school who will work with you.

Are you talking about music schools though, or REAL schools, like K-12?

I always assumed a full time K-12 music job is the equivalent of winning the lottery.
 

vintagelove

Member
Messages
3,192
Are you talking about music schools though, or REAL schools, like K-12?

I always assumed a full time K-12 music job is the equivalent of winning the lottery.

”Real schools"

Any one you can get into is a good start. I had a sweet gig at one place (among others), it was a boarding school for rich kids. I think it was 60 bucks a lesson, and they often didn't show up. It was great until one spring I called the music director, and he had left the school. Then I called the only other person I knew at the school, and they left too.

"Hmmm, sh@t"...

Pro tip, make friends with the administration.



FWIW, my main gig for the last decade + was running the band program for a Montessori school. Unfortunately, I have had to at least temporarily "retire" for health reasons. However, I consider myself lucky as I taught professionally since 17 years old, for about 20 years. As soon as I got the opportunity to move from "music store" lessons to "academia" I jumped and never looked back.
 

Thyshra

Double Platinum Member
Messages
43
I would like to teach in a school, even classroom-type stuff for theory, but really no one wants that.

What about doing some Adult Night School type classes?

Local High School here has 'night school' in the Spring and Fall, about 9-10 weeks, and offers all sorts of classes for 18+. It's a vocational school, so there's everything from carpentry, cooking, guitar, etc. etc.

I help teach the Guitar class; he does a 2-hour beginner class, and a 1-hour advanced class.

You could potentially get those students to sign up for other lessons.
 

Rufus

Member
Messages
1,889
As someone who also lives in San Diego and, at various times, has thought about both giving and taking lessons, I'll offer a few thoughts.

First, as you correctly note, you are competing against music schools and pro and semi-pro musicians, many of whom play around town. I don't know if you gig at all, but if not, you are starting at a disadvantage. If I'm looking for someone to take lessons from, I'm going to start with either a name I recognize or at least someone with a credible record or performing or recording music. But I'm also not a beginner, so take that for what it is worth.

That said, it is a common mistake to assume people who are good performers are also good teachers. And it sounds like you believe your teaching skills are what sets you apart. So I think you have to sell that part. And one of the best ways to do that is online reviews and testimonials. If current and former students post reviews saying you are a great teacher and really understand how to connect with students, that would help a lot, IMO. And I did see a couple of testimonials on your website, but I would highlight that more and maybe try to get some Yelp reviews or something. Now you may wonder how you can get good reviews if you don't have any students, and I can't really answer that. Try to build it up, I guess.

I would also respectfully disagree that you have a good website. I'm no design pro, but that's not what I would be looking for if I was scoping out teachers. First, it looks dated. It gives the appearance of something you set up a long time ago and have never bothered to change -- even if that isn't actually true. Second, it doesn't really feature you enough. IMO, you need pictures of yourself and preferably ones playing the instruments you want to teach. It may be shallow or superficial, but I want to know what my prospective teachers look like. And I think it helps sell you as a musician. Finally, I would put up a better playing clip if you have one, and record one if you don't. Again, I can't see you at all in the video and the clip isn't inspiring. It just sounds like someone jamming at Guitar Center. You can also probably get some fairly cheap SEO if you want.

Sorry if that isn't the advice you wanted. I don't have any tips on how to get promoted on Nextdoor or anything like that. I'd guess you would have to pay for it, but I don't know.

Good luck!
 

derekd

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
46,238
Hi Paul, looking at your website, why would I take a chance on you when there are so many other teachers in the area? I don't see anything there that makes you stand out or unique.

When we advertise online and via social media, we need to offer value to people. Otherwise, we might get someone to click on our site but where is the incentive to hire you? When people do offer incentives, they are usually pretty limited. One free lesson, that sort of thing. If you were looking for lessons, what sort of incentive would motivate you? Maybe ask around and see what people say.

Also, I see incentives mostly aimed at beginners. What would you offer an intermediate player? Tab out the song of their choice? What about advanced players? Who do you want to teach? Yours is a very broad net. You might consider which type of player you seem to have the most success with and just target that demographic at first.

Specialization is probably a good strategy. You will get all sorts of others along the way but who is your target? I went after kids who wanted to make their school's jazz ensemble on guitar or bass. After a few successfully did so, all the band directors in the area started referring kids to me.

Good luck with it.
 

Buduranus2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,682
Hi Paul, First of all I'm very envious that you live in Encinitas. It's a real gem. I'm familiar with North County and I'd say that geography might be working against you. Not all that much population density from Oceanside to La Jolla. Also, kids may not be that into guitars anymore and if they are it's probably death metal. I'm not sure that a 38 Special clip is gonna appeal to them. That aside, I'd echo what Derek mentioned above. Specifically, what's your "unique selling proposition"? We can't be everything to everyone. Also, consider marketing "packages" of lessons, with bullet points differentiating the benefits of each higher tier. My two cents FWIW.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
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24,230
I went after kids who wanted to make their school's jazz ensemble on guitar or bass. After a few successfully did so, all the band directors in the area started referring kids to me.
Good luck with it.
I even teach jazz to horn players. The band directors know me. The main problem is finding times for them.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,680
@Motterpaul


Do you currently work with/for any music stores in your area?

It can be a good source of new students, but they do take a hefty cut.

No, I do not.

Hi Paul, looking at your website, why would I take a chance on you when there are so many other teachers in the area? I don't see anything there that makes you stand out or unique.

When we advertise online and via social media, we need to offer value to people. Otherwise, we might get someone to click on our site but where is the incentive to hire you? When people do offer incentives, they are usually pretty limited. One free lesson, that sort of thing. If you were looking for lessons, what sort of incentive would motivate you? Maybe ask around and see what people say.

Also, I see incentives mostly aimed at beginners. What would you offer an intermediate player? Tab out the song of their choice? What about advanced players? Who do you want to teach? Yours is a very broad net. You might consider which type of player you seem to have the most success with and just target that demographic at first.

Specialization is probably a good strategy. You will get all sorts of others along the way but who is your target? I went after kids who wanted to make their school's jazz ensemble on guitar or bass. After a few successfully did so, all the band directors in the area started referring kids to me.

Good luck with it.

Derek - I feel one thing that makes me stand out is I have one of the few Yelp review pages with twelve (the total) all 5-star reviews, but of course, they hide all the good ones if you do not advertise.

But I built my website before Covid and my unique specialty was adults who already played a little but wanted more, like to play in a band (but never had). I put the people together and gave them the skills to play with others. That was actually a really good idea because I had three bands together at once where every player was paying me the same rate for the same period of time.

But with Covid I had to change it around and re-focus on one on one lessons again. And in the meantime, some things happened that soured me to promoting the business, but now I need to re-focus again.

AS far as my website, I felt I framed the verbiage in a way that appealed to people who wanted to learn how to play from scratch, but usually, those students just want to be able to play songs (which is what I tell them I will teach them). But parents often want Johnny to learn how to read single-line melodic scores like he is learning trumpet or something non-multi-timbral. That isn't guitar to me. But that is IMHO YMMV. But that is also one strongly differentiating factor IMO. I know I personally quit guitar lessons at age 11 because I had a "music score" teacher, but I later learned how to play by myself using the methods that I say I will use with my students (on the website). The differentiation is saying they will learn by playing songs they already know & like, not "Frere Jacques" one note at a time on the treble clef.

Question - I see the point about "Hold on Loosely" but it is a well-executed solo that shows I can play. There are also 4 other videos in that frame but I know it is hard to see that. What songs examples would be better and for what kinds of students?
 
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derekd

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
46,238
No, I do not.



Derek - I feel one thing that makes me stand out is I have one of the few Yelp review pages with twelve (the total) all 5-star reviews, but of course, they hide all the good ones if you do not advertise.

But I built my website before Covid and my unique specialty was adults who already played a little but wanted more, like to play in a band (but never had). I put the people together and gave them the skills to play with others. That was actually a really good idea because I had three bands together at once where every player was paying me the same rate for the same period of time.

But with Covid I had to change it around and re-focus on one on one lessons again. And in the meantime, some things happened that soured me to promoting the business, but now I need to re-focus again.

AS far as my website, I felt I framed the verbiage in a way that appealed to people who wanted to learn how to play from scratch, but usually, those students just want to be able to play songs (which is what I tell them I will teach them). But parents often want Johnny to learn how to read single-line melodic scores like he is learning trumpet or something non-multi-timbral. That isn't guitar to me. But that is IMHO YMMV. But that is also one strongly differentiating factor IMO. I know I personally quit guitar lessons at age 11 because I had a "music score" teacher, but I later learned how to play by myself using the methods that I say I will use with my students (on the website). The differentiation is saying they will learn by playing songs they already know & like, not "Frere Jacques" one note at a time on the treble clef.

Question - I see the point about "Hold on Loosely" but it is a well-executed solo that shows I can play. There are also 4 other videos in that frame but I know it is hard to see that. What songs examples would be better and for what kinds of students?
Good idea to put people together in ensembles. Jazz guitar great Roni Ben Hur teaches a buddy of mine jazz guitar in NYC. Mark is a semi-pro player but because of his busy schedule as an attorney, never really got to play with others or out. Roni does a combo of individual lessons and ensemble work with people in 8 and 16 week blocks. I think that model and time frame works well to get some concrete things out of it while not having people commit too long. He tries to have an informal performance opportunity at the end. Roni is out his time and cost of whatever room he's renting. Since that cost is shared by the members of the ensemble, it is financially lucrative for Roni. Mark has been doing that with Roni for close to a decade.

I've always liked that model because it is so practical since musical apprenticeships and performance opportunities have faded over the years. With COVID, those sorts of opportunities are limited until places and people feel comfortable opening up. That puts you back to 1 on 1 Zoom lessons.

I did a couple of group Zoom lessons with Peter Mazza last year. They were 6 week blocks where we were working on chord melody reharm ideas. All were intermediate to advanced players. It worked really well. We each got a chance to play a section every other week or so. The last week we all performed the whole tune. Very worthwhile.

My wife and I are writers and have a small woodworking biz. In both cases, we have a website we want to draw people toward. However, we have to have some sort of incentive for them to pull the trigger once they get to our site. Otherwise, our site is just like millions of others out there offering the same or similar.

My question is, what can you offer that would hook someone who visits your site?
I think this is the big question for all of us who are using the internet and social media to try and attract any kind of business. I don't think the verbiage alone will get it done. I'd ask people, what could I offer that would make you want to sign up for Zoom lessons with me? Get a few of those ideas and experiment.

I'm likely the worst guy to ask what solo or other video to feature because I mostly listen to jazz or fusion. Neither of those genres are very popular. I wish you luck with it.
 

jerryfan6

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,540
You may want to break this down a little...

1. How are you going to drive awareness?
Your website won't drive awareness that you exist, because you likely have zero to very little traffic going to it. Driving awareness of you as a music teacher will likely come from either a) social media postings(Youtube, FB, Instagram, etc) and/or through some in-person networking(schools, music shops, etc).

2. How are you going to make me think you're the one?
This could be where your website comes into play, provided that it does a good job of selling YOU. Social media, or your body of work on social media, is another way to convince me. Lastly, reviews...either word of mouth or online can go a long way.

3. How are you going to make this safe/convenient for me?
In this day and age, in-home lessons seem like the LEAST safe and convenient option available for prospective students. If you want to increase your potential pool of students, you may have to consider alternatives...yes, like Zoom, or renting space at a reputable music shop.
 

Morpeli

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,061
In my humble opinion…

I think your website is too busy. Way too much stuff and it’s not focused enough I feel.
Way too many words

I also don’t think you need your whole cv - just stuff related to you as a guitarist and teacher of guitar (not bass)

Maybe get a separate website for your bass teaching.

Maybe get a separate website for your guitar tech stuff.

You have music education, you play guitar, you play blues rock. Concentrate on those things I would say.
(Maybe start a YouTube teaching channel to get exposure? And put you site’s link on there)
 

Blue Bee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,446
Don’t forget about listing in the local newspaper. I was surprised how many more I got from those classified ads than Craigslist. A lot of boomers like to read the paper and prefer to have a physical phone number to call.

I agree on your site looking too busy especially with all the tech stuff and it’s a bit cluttered to view on my iPhone. I think bass is ok to mention.

contact the small music schools and music stores and try to get in as a substitute to get your foot in the door.Could make a flyer and mail it or drop it off and hang it around locally on bulletin boards and such

I also got new students playing gigs at the local restaurants, bars and parties.
 
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Messages
2
What things have some of you more successful guitar teachers done to build out your independent guitar lesson businesses? I am looking for local people to do live lessons (I prefer to get away from Zoom) and also I am not looking for students here in TGP, so don't worry about giving me your best ideas if you fish here.

I work out of my house and I have a good website, but I guess I need to get more people to look at it. Right now I have just four solid students and I would like to at least double that if I can.

I guess I need advice on "how to get your business listed in Nextdoor" and "how to advertise lessons on Craigslist and Facebook".
Couldn't agree with Morpeli more. Your site is really too packed with items, my opinion. Say, I am your future student and I want to get some more details about the lessons. So I open your site and ... I need too much time to get them. That would be perfect if you make the design more simple. The idea about Youtube channel is gorgeous, it would provide you with permanent traffic.
 




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