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 John Hatcher, a guitar teacher from Charleston, South Carolina in the USA and the founder of an online teaching site called the Blues Guitar Institute. To find out more about John and his teaching business, visit his website at http://www.bluesguitarinstitute.com
Guitar Teacher Interview
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What’s your background?
I’m from Charleston, South Carolina and I’ve been playing guitar since I was around 12 years old (31 now). I came up on classic rock and heavy metal, but a few years ago, I got bit by the blues bug and haven’t been able to shake it.
Tell us about your guitar teaching business. Are you doing it part-time or full-time? How many students are you currently teaching?
My teaching business is part-time and I’ve been running it for just over a year. My angle is highly focused on blues guitar, but of course, you have to know some universal music theory and guitar technique no matter what genre you are into. So, I work that in as well. My business is entirely online and the lessons are posted to my site and my YouTube channel. I have done some one-on-one lessons in the past and hope to add that to the scope of my business in 2013. Or rather as, Donnie suggests, group lessons.
What’s been the biggest key to success in your teaching business so far?
I’d have to say that’s a tie between two things:
1. Producing quality, well thought out, lessons and
2. Listening to my viewers, readers, etc. Even in the very beginning, people will tell you what they want to learn if you just listen.
What’s been your most effective way of attracting new students?
Keep in mind that my teaching platform is entirely online. By far my best way of attracting people has been through using Twitter. I search for people looking for help with their blues playing and follow them. Some will follow back. For those, I send out tweets regularly that give tips and links to my lessons. This has been huge for me.
What’s been your most effective way of keeping your existing students from quitting?
I’d have to say listening again. I mean, if someone has a gripe about a lesson, you have to listen to that. I haven’t had much of this, but on one occasion received a negative comment. I tried to validate the student’s comment and address the concerns head on. I’m still a bit new at this, but I plan to keep using this strategy.
What helps to keep you motivated to continue when things don’t seem to be going as well as you would like?
I go back to basics. For me that’s putting on an old blues track and connecting with why I play guitar. It helps keep me going. On some level, I would keep producing lessons even if no one was listening. That’s how much I love this stuff.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to get started teaching guitar lessons for the first time?
You have to find a unique way to present the material. It sounds cliche, but just being yourself will take care of that. Some people will love your teaching style and others will hate it. Personally, I would rather spend my efforts trying to find students that “get” my style rather than trying to take on someone else’s style.
Can you share one tip that has worked for you to help your students get better results on the guitar?
I firmly believe that beyond the beginner stage, most guitarists share the same complaint about their playing. We feel that we practice but do not improve. I encourage guitarists to focus their practice efforts. Often we think of practice as firing up a jam track and playing along. 45 minutes go by and you call it a day. Trouble is, your jam sounds the same for months or years. You have to have a focused approach to practicing. Even if you are short on time, you should integrate technique, theory and fun into a practice session. And practing should be often…of course. Maybe that’s wordy for a “tip” but I think it boils down to focusing your practice time.
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!