One of the driving principles behind Start Teaching Guitar is that we can all learn from each other. This “Guitar Teacher Interview” series is a chance for us to hear from other guitar teachers around the world and hopefully get some ideas for our own teaching businesses.
This interview is with Adil Rahim, a full-time guitar teacher from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Click here to visit his website to get more info.
Guitar Teacher Interview
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What’s your background?
I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 and now I’m 24. I’ve played in a lot of bands but I’m taking a break from performing to focus on my teaching business for a while. Some of my musical influences are Frank Zappa, Luna Sea, Guthrie Govan and The Deftones.
Tell us about your guitar teaching business. Are you doing it part-time or full-time? How many students are you currently teaching?
I have been teaching guitar since I was 16 or 17 and I am currently doing it full time at a lot of music centers around Kuala Lumpur. I have maybe 18 students right now. It changes depending on what month it is. My students are awesome, they like a lot of stuff I don’t like and I learn from it. I learn to understand that it’s not all about me all the time. As far as my own teaching business, I just started a blog recently and I’m in the process of learning more about the business side of things. I hope it will be fully functional sometime next year, so stay tuned.
What’s been the biggest key to success in your teaching business so far?
Trying to be as friendly as possible, and I don’t mean that in a fake and manipulative way. Teaching is a business, and it’s a business where you need to build a long term relationship with your students. Most of the time as guitarists, we think “If I’m a great guitarist, everything will fall into place” and this is where most teachers are wrong. There are a lot of other skills that we need to learn in order to be successful in teaching or in any other business for that matter. But being pleasant goes a long way.
What’s been your most effective way of attracting new students?
I can say that word of mouth is the most common way to attract new students. You need to get a referral from other students/parents who have had a good experience with you. Of course social media, websites, etc. all help, but what you need to do is somehow get people to talk about you in a positive manner. It comes down to what you have to offer, and what sort of value you can bring to them. Most importantly every action you take must have a goal, and it must meet the goal of your students somewhere in the middle. You need to know why your making a website, why you’re using a blog and what is the desired outcome of all your efforts. Start with the end in mind.
What’s been your most effective way of keeping your existing students from quitting?
Understanding the goals of your students. If you care to ask what they want from your classes, rather than just teach them aimlessly from a book, a lot of answers will start to appear. Another thing is to have them work toward something, like a song they need to finish or a concert they need to play for. There needs to be a sense of achievement for the individual. There needs to be a goal. Have I said this too much yet?
What helps to keep you motivated to continue when things don’t seem to be going as well as you would like?
Skateboarding, computer games, any activity that takes your attention away from the problem.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to get started teaching guitar lessons for the first time?
Learn as much as you can about guitar, but what you should be more focused on is learning about people. Learn about why your students specifically come to you for guitar lessons. “Guitar teacher” and “guitarist” are two entirely different professions.
Can you share one tip that has worked for you to help your students get better results on the guitar?
Not being too strict and not being too easy on them. There needs to be a balance. Another thing is get them to learn songs that they like rather than what songs you want them to play. Of course, do it sensibly and think about what the student wants.
Well, that’s it for today’s Guitar Teacher Interview. If you’d like to be considered for a future interview, enter your name and email address below to join the Start Teaching Guitar community. I send out occasional interview requests to this mailing list.
If you have any questions, comments or feedback please leave a reply below!