You may be thinking things like, “I play guitar and play well but I can’t read music. How can I give guitar lessons? Well think of it like this, YOU learned how to play guitar without reading music. You can teach others how to play guitar without reading music. Here are some tips.
How Much Do I Charge?
There is really no set amount. Guitar lessons are given usually in 30 minute increments. Anything more than 30 minutes is usually overkill. As far as how much to charge depends on the area you’re giving lessons in. Make some calls to your competition and see how much they charge for guitar lessons. Your competition will likely be local music stores and maybe a few independent people like yourself. I charge $15 per 30 minute guitar lesson.
Why Only Thirty Minute Guitar Lessons?
When you give guitar lessons, the system is as follows: First, go over the stuff you taught your student last week. (unless this is their first guitar lesson) Point out what your student is dong wrong and how he or she can improve upon it. Ask your student if they have any questions regarding the material and/or techniques. Lastly, give your student an assignment to work on for the next seven days between the next guitar lesson. This process shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
Develop A Lesson Plan
Make you student up a booklet. Use your computer or your hand. Divide it into chapters and put it in a 3 ring binder. Make copies of each sheet and place them in binders. You’ll need a few of these. You can charge students or parents for the cost of the books when they start out. Your students will be keeping them. In this binder should be written instructions on how to tune the guitar by ear, a picture of a guitar with a list of all the parts. (it won’t do any good if you tell your student that a G chord requires your third finger on the 3rd fret up from the nut if they don’t know what a nut is) A picture or outline of a hand telling them which fingers are their first, second, third, and fourth fingers. An illustrated explanation on how to read chord charts. You can easily draw a large picture of a chord chart with a chord in it with an written explanation on how to read it. And make some pages with a list of chords in a particular key. You can have a page called “The Key Of C”. On that page will be chord charts of C, F, G, and Am (A minor). Repeat that process with all of the major keys.
Your First Meeting With A Potential Student
It’s a good idea to sit down with your prospective student (free of charge) for thirty minutes or so. You need to work out a schedule, ask them what their musical goals are, ask them what kind of music they want to play, check out the equipment and tools they will be learning on and with, and give them a list of things to acquire before their first guitar lesson.
If they haven’t acquired a guitar yet or if they ask advice on what you recommend. Advise them to make sure the student’s guitar comes with a case. If the guitar costs more than $250 insist on a HARDSHELL CASE, not a “gig-bag”. Try to steer them to an acoustic guitar. Why? While it’s true that you can learn anything on an electric guitar that you can on an acoustic, students tend to progress faster with an acoustic. (Especially children or teens). Point out the advantages of an acoustic guitar over an electric. (you have to by a guitar cable and amplifier to accompany an electric guitar. That equals more money to spend). The reason why people progress faster with an acoustic is this. Student A and student B start lessons on the same day. They each have a week of practice time before their next guitar lesson. Student A has an electric guitar and amplifier. Student B has just an acoustic guitar. Student B devotes a total of 8 hours practicing his acoustic before his next guitar lesson. Student A devotes 8 hours as well. Student B spends his 8 hours practicing his chords and strumming techniques. Student A spends 5.5 hours working on his chords and strumming techniques and the remaining 2.5 hours of practice making siren sounds with his whammy bar on his guitar or dive-bombing with his whammy bar. As well as a bit of posing like a rock star in the mirror with his brand new $1000 Fender Stratocaster (just like the one Hendrix played). Student B has spent ALL of his time practicing and zero time playing rock star. Student B will progress faster than Student A.
It’s a good idea that if your student has an electric guitar and amp that as their teacher, you do too. If they have an acoustic guitar, you should give them guitar lessons with an acoustic guitar.
Children and Teens
You’ll find that a good amount of your students will be teenagers and kids ages 8 to 12. You need to explain to them and their parents that they will need to devote practice time between guitar lessons. You’ll usually be able to tell if they are practicing. If they’re not, sit down with their parents and be honest. Tell them that it doesn’t appear that their child wants to put the work into learning how to play the guitar. Tell the parents that for them that lessons are a waist of money. Let them know that you’re willing to continue giving their child guitar lessons but to not expect much progress if their child is not practicing. It’s common for a 11 year old boy or girl to be really into learning how to play the guitar until they hit puberty. Often when they become interested in the opposite sex, practicing and guitar lessons take a back seat to a young lady or boy.
In order for your student to learn to play the guitar, there are certain things that they MUST have. Here’s a list.
- A Guitar (that’s important)
- A pitch fork (tuned to 440 tuning and in A) or a guitar tuned pitch pipe. If your student isn’t reading music, it’s a good idea to help them develop their “ear” I think a pitch fork is the best way to do this but a guitar tuned pitch pipe I would say is second. If they have a really difficult time tuning their guitar with a pitch fork or pitch pipe, you can have them purchase an actual guitar tuner but wait to see how they do with the pitch fork or pitch pipe.
- A music stand. It can be a decent quality one or even one of the cheap chrome fold up ones.
- An extra set of guitar strings. Eventually, you’ll be teaching your student how to change their guitar strings.
- A set of guitar picks. I recommend a dozen of thins, mediums, and heavy picks. It may take your student a while to see what type they are comfortable with.
- A guitar stand. You want your student to set their guitar on a stand if it’s not in the case.
Your First Guitar Lesson
Present them with their booklet that you made and go over it with them. The second your student picks up his or her guitar, teach them how to TUNE it. I don’t care how correctly they are playing chords and such. If the guitar isn’t in tune, it won’t sound good at all. Get them started on their first set of chords. I always start with the chords in the key of G. (G, C, D, and Em).
OK. How do you GET students. Like I said, check to see what the competition is charging for guitar lessons and try to beat it. Now beating them doesn’t necessarily mean charging LESS money. Most of the music stores give guitar lessons in their store. Now with kids, imagine just what mom and dad are doing. They’re working, they’re taking their kids to football practice and cheer leading and some of them have to run them to weekly guitar lessons too. You can offer to give guitar lessons at THEIR home for the same price.
Giving guitar lessons and make you some decent money and/or be a good supplement to your current income. Give it a try. You may end up on the list of thank yous on your students first CD which went Gold sometime down the road.
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