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STG 030 : 7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Teaching Guitar Lessons

The Start Teaching Guitar PodcastIn this episode, I’ll be telling you about 7 very common misconceptions…LIES, actually…that a lot of guitar teachers have been told. A lot of the things we take for granted and consider to be common sense JUST AREN’T TRUE when it comes to being a guitar teacher…and if you can understand and believe the TRUTH, you can be SUCCESSFUL where other teachers FAIL!

PLUS, for STG All-Access members ONLY, I’ll give you 3 BONUS LIES that are directly related to MARKETING, COMPETITION and the ECONOMY…all important stuff that you NEED TO KNOW to be successful with your teaching business.

To call in with a question, a comment or to leave feedback for the show, call the Listener Feedback Hotline at (719) 428-5480 and leave a message! I just might include your recorded message in a future episode.

Items Mentioned In This Episode:

Book – “Speed Mechanics” by Troy Stetina
Book – “Sheets of Sound” by Jack Zucker
Link – Dave Ramsey
Link – Group Guitar Launch Formula
Video Tutorial – How To Set Up Your Own Guitar Teaching Website In 30 Minutes or Less
Link – STG Email List Training Course
Link – STG Email Autoresponder Series

Podcast Transcript

In this episode of the STG Podcast, I’m going to expose some common lies you might’ve been told about teaching the guitar. Now, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom out there that you’ve probably heard about being a guitar teacher, and a lot of it is just not true. I’m going to talk about seven specific things in this episode today that a lot of people just assume are correct, but they really aren’t. You know, a lot of times, people just assume that certain things are true. You know what they say about assuming. There’s a joke that goes along with that, that I’m not going to say here on the podcast, but a lot of you know what I’m talking about. But assuming things sometimes just turns out badly, because a lot of the things that we assume couldn’t be more wrong.

So, let’s talk about some of the most common lies a lot of guitar teachers have been told, including myself, including a lot of you, and what the truth really is about each one. So, here are the seven lies about teaching the guitar that are commonly told.

Lie #1 – If You Can Play, You Can Automatically Teach

Lie number one is: if you can play, you can automatically teach. That’s big. A lot of people think that, and most of the people that think that have never tried to teach guitar lessons before, because you find out pretty darn quickly that just because you’re a good player, it doesn’t make you a good teacher. Some people think that because you’re a good player, you’re automatically a good teacher, but honestly there’s a huge difference between those two things, and here are some of the differences.

A player can demonstrate cool things on the guitar, can sit there and just play amazing things. A teacher can explain those things in a way that the student can understand them. A player can talk about the guitar, can talk about gear, can talk about different styles and different things that you want to play. A teacher can actually inspire someone to want to play those things. A player can make extra cash teaching lessons. A teacher can actually have a successful career teaching guitar lessons. A guitar player can run someone through a method book. A guitar teacher can teach someone what they really need to know whether they have a method book in front of them or not.

And honestly, a guitar player trying to teach usually ends up sending students to the real teachers. It’s sad to say, but it’s true. A lot of times, a player just trying to teach people are going to drive those people away to the other people in town who really know how to teach. It’s just kind of typically what happens, but let me give you some examples here of this lie.

We all probably know lots of people who are great guitar players, but they don’t have any of the patience needed to teach anybody anything. You know, I’ll give you some personal examples. I asked a guy I knew for help with the guitar a long time ago, when I was in my late teens, when I was just kind of picking it up, and I asked him for some help and he got frustrated with me because I wasn’t learning fast enough. He expected me to kind of pick up what he was showing me instantly. It’s like: “Okay, I showed you this. Why can’t you play it? It’s not my fault that you can’t play it.” You know? And he got irritated when I couldn’t do it.

And I mean if I was talking to that guy today, I’d say, you know, it doesn’t work like the movie, The Matrix, where someone plugs a cable into the back of your head, transfers all of their knowledge into you. That’s not how learning the guitar works. It takes time. You can’t just instantly be shown something and be able to play it at a proficient level, like he was, someone who had been playing for probably 20 years at the time. You know, I guess he kind of felt like a failure when I didn’t instantly start playing like he did. You know, just because it was easy for him didn’t mean that it was going to be easy for me, especially right away.

And that just reminds me. Frustration is something that you deal with on the student side as a teacher. You know, your students are supposed to be the ones who get frustrated. A student shouldn’t have to deal with a frustrated teacher, you know, but that’s what happened in that case, because he was a great player, was not a very good teacher, and that’s usually what happens. So, I also remember another example. Taking some piano lessons from a friend of mine who had a music degree, when I was a kid, I was probably 15 or 16.

And we were going through her method book, of course, and he was trying to play the 4-4 time signature. So, he was getting into the basics of musical notation and things like that. Stuff that I wasn’t really interested in learning, but we were following the book, so that’s what we did. And he was trying to explain 4-4, and I understood half of the equation. I understood the four beats per measure part, but he could not explain what he meant by the second four, which is the quarter note gets the beat. You know, like today I understand that. You know, what he was trying to say was whenever you’re courting with your metronome – you know, the one, two, three, and four – those are all going to be quarter notes in the 4-4 time signature, but he didn’t explain it that way when I was a teenager. All he said was the quarter note gets the beat.

So, I kept asking, “What does getting the beat mean? What’s it mean to get the beat,” and he couldn’t explain it. He just got frustrated when he couldn’t figure out how to make me understand what he was talking about, and then we just skipped it and moved on to the next page in the method book. Okay, so those are examples of people that are good players. This guy was a very good piano player. You know, classically trained, but he couldn’t teach worth of crap. And there are a lot of people like that. Great musicians. Terrible teachers. So, that’s definitely a misconception. If you can play, that doesn’t mean you can automatically teach.

There’s one set of skills required to be a great player and completely different set of skills needed to be a great teacher. Okay, as a player, you need to have skills like fretboard knowledge, scales, modes, inversions, theory, technique, repertoire of music that you know how to play, rhythmic skills, good pitch, and those types of things. Those are some of the skills you need to be a really good player, but if you want to be a teacher, you need a different set of skills that include things like patience. Troubleshooting skills, which I talked about in the last episode. Managing your emotions and the emotions of your students. That’s a huge a skill that a lot of plain old musicians don’t have.

You’ve got to have good organization skills. You have to have good motivation skills. You have to have goal-setting skills and communication skills. You have to have empathy. You have to have a positive mental attitude. You have to be a good listener. You have to be able to instill confidence in your students. And I could name probably 50 other things that all work towards making someone a good guitar teacher, but you get my point. It’s a different set of skills. It’s not the same thing you learn whenever you’ve been playing guitar for a long time. And the truth is you really need to be both. You need to be a good player and a good teacher, because you can’t really teach something that you don’t know how to do. So, you have to be able to do it, and if you can explain something really well and you have good teaching skills, you should also be able to demonstrate that on the guitar.

It’s like that old joke about college professors. Those who can’t do, teach. You know? It doesn’t work very well in music instruction because you have to actually be able to do it, but more importantly than that, you have to be able to teach it and instill those things into your students. So, just don’t neglect one set of skills in favor of the other one. Work hard to improve at both. Work on being a better teacher and work on being a better player at the same time, and then you’ll have a much greater chance of being successful. So, that’s lie number one.

Lie #2 – All You Need To Teach Is A Good Method Book

Lie number two is all you need to teach is a good method book. So, you know, I just want to apologize right now. I tend to pick on method books a little bit in some of the things I write and talk about. Don’t get me wrong. Books are good. I like books. But a lot of newer teachers believe this lie. They think all it takes to teach is a good book to work through with all of their students. That was the mistake that my piano player friend made. He’s like: “Oh yeah, we’ll just get a copy of Alfred’s Piano 101,” or whatever. I mean don’t get me wrong. Books have their place. They do. They totally have their place, but using one as your curriculum and working through it from cover to cover is not that place.

Method books are not a magic formula for learning how to play. If that was true, nobody would take lessons. They would just all go out and buy books. Obviously working through a book is not enough to teach you how to be proficient on an instrument. Now, a few people might be smart enough to buy a book and read it and learn how to play. You know, maybe they’re some kind of musical genius or something, but 99 percent of the people out there are going to need more help than just flipping through the pages of a book. They’re going to need motivation. They’re going to need guidance. They’re going to need feedback. They’re going to need coaching. They’re going to need a customized plan to help them reach their own unique musical goals that maybe the person who wrote the book didn’t account for.

Oh, and did I mention motivation? I said that first, right? They’re going to need help staying motivated to keep doing this. They’re going to need help with practicing, making sure that they’re playing everything correctly. Practice makes permanent. So, a method book doesn’t give them any of those things. So, if you just take a book and you try working through it cover to cover with your students, you know, one book and do a one-size-fits-all thing, working through that book with all your students. Try that sometime and watch and see what happens. They’re going to get bored. Then they’re going to get frustrated. Then they’re going to get discouraged. Then they’re going to get out of your teaching studio.

They’re going to leave. They probably won’t even tell you why. They’re just going to hit the door. They may even give up on the guitar altogether as a result of that experience, because they’re going to think: “Wow, this is not as enjoyable as I thought it was going to be,” or, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for it.” You know, so you could actually do a lot of permanent damage by taking the wrong approach to teaching and just trying to ramrod people through the pages of a method book.

So, a much better approach is to take specific concepts from the books that you like and then teach those on a case-by-case basis. You know? That way, you’re teaching each student as an individual and you’re giving them the skills that they really want to learn, and at the same time you’re also giving them solid, fundamentals of musicianship mixed in along the way while not having to reinvent the wheel for every single student. So, at some point, all of your students are going to need the notes on the fretboard. They’re going to need to know how to play chord inversion. They’re going to need to know scale patterns and a lot of things like that. You know, and eventually more advanced music theory and maybe even sight-reading and notation.

And you don’t have to create lesson plans for all that stuff. You can buy some good books that already have that stuff broken out in it, and use that in your lessons, but you just want to make sure that you custom tailor the experience to each individual student and what they need and want. So, for example, if a student comes in and they want to learn how to play faster single-note passages, you could pick up a copy of Speed Mechanics by Troy Stetina or Sheets of Sound is another good book by Jack Zucker, if you can find one. I actually have a copy of that around here somewhere and I was just looking at it so that I could give you guys a link, and apparently it’s out of print and they’re charging like five hundred dollars for used copies of it and everything. But if you have a copy of that book, it’s a good one too.

So, now you have these books. Instead of saying, “Okay, turn to page four. Here is lesson number one. Next week we’ll do lesson number two,” and approaching it that way. Instead of that, pick one or two exercises that you think are going to help that student get the fastest results and then use those in the lesson. You can say, “Hey, okay, we’re going to play this one right here,” and then coach them while they work on those exercises. So, you track their progress, you help them feel good about what they’re doing, and you just make sure that they’re actually making progress and working towards it and doing well. And when they’re making good progress on those exercises, then you can pick a few more and keep moving forward with it so that you aren’t overwhelming them or boring them to death with the book. So that’s a much better way to use method books.

And see, I’m not anti-method book. I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I’m totally in favor of good books. Books are great. I own several of them myself. But they can’t teach for you. That’s the important thing to keep in mind. They can’t teach. They can’t be the guitar teacher. That’s your job. use those books, instead, to supplement your lessons, not the other way around. Okay, don’t supplement the book with your own ideas. Use the book to supplement the things that you’re teaching. And don’t be lazy with this. A lot of times, we just don’t want to take the time to organize our own curriculum or whatever, so we just go grab a book. You know, instead of being lazy and doing it that way, assess where each student is and then adjust your basic curriculum to meet their specific needs, and they’re going to learn a lot better that way. So, that’s the lie number two. That all you need to teach is a good method book. Obviously that is not the case.

Lie #3 – You Have To Be A Pro-Level Guitarist To Be A Good Teacher

Okay, so let’s go on to lie number three. Number three is you have to be a pro-level guitarist to be a good guitar teacher. This is one of the lies that a lot of people tell themselves. We tell ourselves this one a lot, and it’s based on a huge fundamental lie that too many people believe in every area of life. And that big, huge lie that’s at the bottom of this one is: “I am not good enough.”

I don’t know why so many of us struggle with this one. You know, basically it’s feelings of inadequacy, but honestly it limits everything that you do in your life. It screws up our relationships. It screws up our potential to excel at work and in business. It screws up your ability to perform your best whenever you’re playing the guitar in front of people, in a band or whatever. All of this ‘I am not good enough’ garbage just limits us in every possible way. And it’s not just guitar teachers that deal with this. It’s every kind of musician and it’s every kind of person in every walk of life.

And the truth is you are good enough. Okay, I’m just going to say it right there. You are good enough, and the truth is if you can play, then you have enough musical skill to teach someone. All right? If you’re just an intermediate-level player, you may not have the skills and expertise and experience to teach more advanced people, but you can teach someone. And like I mentioned before, you need to learn some specific teaching skills too, but there are always going to be a group of people that are going to be less skilled on the guitar than you, and those are the people that you can help. You know, I’ve said this a lot. You really only need to be one step ahead of them to be able to teach them something.

So, the real problem that you’ve got to deal with is not your lack of musical skill. The real problem is what you believe about yourself. So, follow with me here for a second. Let’s talk about what belief really is.

So, your thoughts, right? The things that you think – those eventually become your beliefs. Your beliefs eventually become your actions. If you believe something, you eventually take action on it. And then those actions eventually become your habits. If you keep doing the same action often enough, you know, it digs a rut in your life and it becomes a habit. And then your habits are the things that become your destiny. So, let me repeat that. Your thoughts become your beliefs. You beliefs become your actions. Your actions become your habits. And your habits become your destiny.

So, the way you change your destiny is to go back to the beginning and you start with changing your thoughts and your beliefs. Instead of thinking you can’t, instead of constantly thinking things like: “I can’t. I can’t do that. I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” Instead of thinking: “I can’t,” start thinking: “I can.” Change that around from negative to positive. And then the next thing you want to do is you want to surround yourself with other people who also think you can. It’s hard for you to believe that about yourself if you’re surrounded by people that are constantly telling you the opposite, so put positive people in your life that are constantly building you up and telling you that you can do it.

And then you want to fill your mind with positive, motivational materials, like this podcast. That’s what I strive to do; is be as encouraging and inspirational and motivation as I can. But fill your mind with things like this on a regular basis that constantly reinforce the fact that you can. There’s a common thread here. You’ve got to think and believe that you can. You have to have other people telling you that you can. You have to keep feeding your mind and your attitude with materials that tell you that you can. And then, after a while, what happens is you start to believe it. You start believing something if you hear it often enough. So, then what you do is once you start to believe it, then start taking some bold, positive action based on those new beliefs, and then your life and your destiny and your results are going to start to change in your business.

Okay, so that’s how you change your destiny. You go back and change your thoughts and your beliefs. And I just want to say right now that I believe in you. Now, some of you that are listening to this podcast, I know you. I’ve interacted with you in the STG All-Access Forums. You know, we’ve emailed back and forth. Some of you, we’ve spoken in person and on the phone, and things, but some of you, I’ve never met, but I can still honestly say that I believe in you because I know the hidden power and potential locked inside of every human being. No matter who you are, no matter where you live, whether you’re rich or poor, no matter your race, your religion, none of that stuff matters because you all have hidden and powerful potential that was placed in you when you were born, and that’s inside every single human being.

And that means it lives in you too. And that potential can be unlocked and released and brought into the world to bring success and to make your life and the lives of everyone who comes into contact with you better. So, I know that you have what it takes to succeed as a guitar teacher if you just keep learning and refuse to give up and quit. Those are the two things that will unlock that potential for you. Keep learning and stepping out, and then don’t quit no matter how tough it gets, because you can do this. I believe in you. Now you just need to believe in yourself, and then just claim the life that you want to live. You know, you can always keep learning and growing as a guitar player, but what you don’t want to do is don’t let your current level keep you from living your dreams.

If your dream is to branch out and start teaching, don’t let the current skill level that you have right now keep you from doing that. Start teaching with where you are, find a little bit of success in that, and then just keep moving forward from there. You can do this and you do have what it takes. All you’ve got to do is believe it. So that’s lie number three.

Lie #4 – You Can’t Make Enough Money To Have A Serious Career Teaching Guitar

Lie number four is you can’t make enough money to have a serious career teaching guitar. Now, you might’ve heard that from your parents maybe or from someone else that’s stuck in their own day job and can’t seem to break out of it, so they try to discourage anybody else who tries to do it. You know, that’s a lie that you can’t make enough money to have a serious career, teaching guitar. You totally can. But you know, this is only true. This lie can be true in certain circumstances, and it’s only true if you neglect your business skills.

If you don’t neglect your business skills, you can make a lot of money teaching guitar, but if you do, then it’ll have some serious repercussions in your business. So, just like you have to focus on being a good player, like we talked about, and being a good teacher, you need to develop the skills you need to be a good business owner. And a good example of this is you can’t expect to start running, you know, jogging one week and then the very next week go compete in the Olympics, and then expect to win. It doesn’t work that way. There’s a certain level of skill and ability you need to develop to get those fantastic results, and the same thing is true in your business.

You don’t just all of a sudden say, “Okay, I’m going to open a business,” and expect the money to start pouring in and everything to work out perfectly the very next week. It’s a process, but the good news is that you can learn these skills. You can totally learn the skills needed to be a good business owner. You know, you’re just not born with them. It’s an important distinction to make. And there are really only two reasons why guitar teachers struggle for money, and I’ll tell you what they are. Number one: they don’t know how to teach. If you’re a good player, but you’re not a good teacher, that’s going to cause high attrition rates and very few word-of-mouth referrals are going to come in, and things like that, because if you don’t teach well, people are not going to get good results and they’re not going to come back.

So, if you don’t know how to teach, you’re going to have trouble making money. And then the second reason guitar teachers struggle for money is that they don’t know how to operate a business. You know? This is due to poor or non-existent marketing, for example. That’s one of the biggest weaknesses I see in a lot of guitar teachers; is that they don’t understand marketing, or maybe they just are bad money managers. You know, if you can’t manage your cash flow and your finances and your accounting in your business, then it’s really, really hard for you to get ahead and be successful. So, those are really the only two reasons that you might fail. Either you don’t know how to teach or you don’t know how to be a businessperson.

So, the good news is that you can learn how to do both of those things better. If you get some basic skills in the business area, you can make a great living as a teacher and you can be happier than most people that just have a regular job. So, I mentioned a couple things. Let’s talk about one by one here.

The first thing you need to learn about is how to manage your finances well. Okay, that’s huge because you don’t want the money that comes into your business to just trickle through your fingers and disappear. You have to manage your money well, so what I would recommend is a few things. Avoid debt. That’s important. You also want to keep a safety cushion in place in case there’s an emergency that happens. You know, a medical emergency or something like that, or you have some months where the income drops and it’s a low month for you, like in the summer sometimes happens with teachers. So, that safety cushion will keep you being able to pay your rent and your bills whenever you have dips in your income.

Another important principle is to spend less than you earn. You can’t spend more than you earn and expect to have any money left. It’s common sense. Another principle to think about is don’t make the leap to full-time teaching until you’re really ready, until you have those other things in place that I just mentioned. So, Dave Ramsey is a good resource if you want to learn more about this. If you struggle with your money, check out Dave Ramsey. I’ll put a link to his website in the show notes, and he’s taught me a lot over the years about how to get out of debt and then make sure I never get back in debt, about how to build up an emergency fund cushion, and just organize my personal and my business finances in a way that makes me successful. So, you definitely want to check him out. He works with some of the worst cases of people that have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt and he has great plans and materials that teach you how to eliminate that and turn things around. So, check out Dave Ramsey for more info about the financial part.

And then the other thing is marketing. The next thing you’re going to need to learn about is marketing. So, some of the things you need to learn about with regard to marketing is you have to learn how to think like a potential student. I mean I could talk for hours and hours about this. In fact, I have in the past, but you’ve got to think like a student thinks. Put yourself in their shoes. You need to figure out who they are, what they need, what causes them pain, what real drives and motivates them to take lessons in the first place. A lot of times it’s not what you think it is. You know? And then once you know the answers to those questions, then you have to address those specific needs and pain points in your marketing, in the copy on your website, in the emails that you send, in the flyers and ads that you put out. It should all address those pain points and provide benefits that meet those needs that are specific to the people you want to teach.

So, you do that in your marketing, and then you also gear your guitar lessons around solving those problems for people. So, it’s really not all that complicated. It’s just foreign to the way that most guitar teachers think. So, what I did was I told you that I’ve spent hours and hours talking about marketing. Well, my Group Guitar Launch Formula course has got problem, gosh, I want to say, 12 or 13 hours’ worth of me teaching about how to do marketing, how to understand who your customers are, how to reach them in a way that will make them pay attention, and things like that. So, that’s GGLF. Group Guitar Launch Formula is a great way to learn about marketing and teaching in groups all at the same time. So, you can find out more about that at GroupGuitarLaunchFormula.com, but I’ll put a link to it in the show notes as well so that you can check that out.

But those are two great resources to help you improve your skills on the business side so that you can make enough money to have a serious career as a guitar teacher. So, just keep improving your business knowledge, your skill, and your experience as time goes by, and then you’re going to be more and more successful, and then that lie number four won’t be true for you. So that was number four.

Lie #5 – Nobody Needs Guitar Teachers Anymore

Let’s go to lie number five, and this is it. Lie number five: since there’s so much free information available online, nobody needs guitar teachers anymore. I’ve heard people say that before. Since there’s YouTube and so much stuff online for free, why would anybody want to pay a teacher? Well, while it’s true that there are tons of free info online, you need more than just info to become a good guitar player. This goes back to the thing I said about books. It takes more than the information in a book to become a good guitar player, and it takes more than YouTube videos as well.

But just to give you an example of why people might think this, if you go to YouTube.com and you type in the words ‘learn guitar’ in the search box there and you hit search, as of the time when I’m recording this, over 220 thousand videos come back in the search, and that’s just learn guitar. That’s just high-level stuff. That doesn’t even get into specific techniques or genres of music, or anything like that. That’s just learn guitar. 220 thousand videos or more. Now, open up Google.com and then type learn guitar in Google and hit search, and you’re going to get over 267 million search returns for learn guitar in Google. That’s a lot of information about learning the guitar, and honestly, most of it is free.

Not all of it. You know, some people are going to charge for that information, but a lot of it is free, probably half to three-quarters of that information is free. So, yeah, there is a lot of free info, but is that enough to make you a good guitar player? I’m going to say no. Okay, trying to learn how to play the guitar without a teacher, just using free online lessons, this might sound a little dramatic, but it’s a little bit like trying to learn how to drive a car by yourself. What would happen if you tried to learn how to drive a car all alone? I’m teaching my daughter how to drive right now. She’s 16, about to get her driver’s license, and if I would’ve just said, “All right, here’s the keys. Here’s a book. Oh, here’s a video that shows you how to drive. Why don’t you take that with you, and just go take off and see what you can do,” you know, probably wouldn’t work out too well.

There’s a totally different set of skills that are tactical in nature that are required to be able to drive well, and really, you need someone to show you those things and to coach you through doing it until you get it right. And playing the guitar is the same way. There are probably some geniuses out there – you know, your Eddie Van Halen’s and people like that – who can learn anything they want to without ever having a teacher. You know, you always hear, in the guitar magazines, about people that never took a lesson in their lives and they’re this amazing guitar player. You know, there is a very small minority of people out there that probably would fall into that category, but that’s not how most people are.

For the average person, it just won’t work and it’s probably going to end up with a lot of disappointment, a musical disaster for them. They may pick up a thing or two. I mean you can learn how to play a riff or something like that from watching a video, but those people are probably never going to become a well-rounded and accomplished guitarist, just by going through free information online. And the reason is if you want to be a good guitar player, you need someone to help you. You can’t do it by yourself. You need someone to give you positive feedback when you’re doing something good and negative feedback, correcting you when you’re doing something wrong.

You need someone to hold you accountable for practicing, and not just to make sure that you spent the time practicing, but to make sure that you practiced correctly. You need someone to encourage you when you start to get bored, overwhelmed, and discouraged. You need someone to kind of drip-feed information to you about the guitar at the right time and in the right sequence. You don’t want to learn certain things at the wrong time. You want to learn them in the right order, and you don’t want to get overwhelmed with too much information at one time if you’re learning how to play. You really need someone to provide high-quality resources to help you reach your goals, that can point you to the right books and the right players to listen to, and things like that.

You want someone that can troubleshoot problems in your playing and help you find the right solutions for them, like I talked about in Episode 29, last time. And you really want someone that can expand your conception of what’s possible on the guitar and give you a bigger vision for the future, because if someone’s just starting to play, they might think the greatest thing that they could ever do with the guitar is to play Black in Black by AC/DC or something like that. And maybe they need someone to believe in them and just to breathe vision into their lives and give them a picture of what’s possible on the guitar so that they think bigger than that.

YouTube videos don’t give you any of those things that I just mentioned, and most online guitar lessons don’t either, unless it’s over Skype and it’s a live type of thing. So, as a teacher, to sum all of that up, you offer a service that’s a lot like a personal trainer for guitar players. You can help them accomplish what they could never accomplish on their own. You help give them the want-to to keep at this when it’s not as easy as they thought it would be, and that’s almost always the case. With everyone who tries to play guitar, they always find out that it’s a little more challenging than they expected. Well, having a good teacher to work as a personal trainer to help them set goals and reach goals for their playing makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between just plinking around on the guitar and learning a few things here and there to actually becoming a guitarist.

And the more people try learning on their own, the more of them are going to find this out the hard way. They’re going to realize that they just can’t get the same results by watching YouTube videos as they can by studying with a good teacher. They’re going to hit the wall eventually. And if they are serious about the guitar, they’re going to go seek out someone who can help them. So, until we enter the world of The Matrix, the movie that I mentioned a while ago, where they just plug a cable into the back of your head, and I know Kung-Fu. You know, until we get to those days in the distant future, I believe that people are always going to need and seek out guitar teachers. So, that busts up lie number five that there’s so much free info, nobody needs a teacher. That’s just not the case because information alone is not enough to make you an accomplished guitarist.

Lie #6 – Starting A Teaching Business Would Take Up Too Much Time

So, lie number six. Number six is starting a teaching business would take up too much time. This is a common lie that a lot of potential teacher believe. People that are thinking about teaching guitar, but they’re still on the fence. Maybe they have a day job and a lot of family commitments and things like that, and they just think: “You know, I would love to do. I think it would be really fulfilling and be good for me to do it, but I just don’t have time.” So, this is a common lie, and it is a lie, and I’ll tell you why.

We live in a busy society, and nobody seems to have enough time to do anything. Okay, especially in America. That’s where I live. That’s what I’m most familiar with. Busy, busy, busy all the time. And the truth is that we all have the same 24 hours every day. You know, you might be in South Africa right now and your life is busy, and you know, another one of you may be in England or in Ireland right now, listening to this, or in Australia or in Canada, or here in the United States, but you guys all have the same 24 hours in a day that I have. You know, it’s not how much time you have. It’s how you use the time that counts.

It’s an important thing to understand and to admit, because once you admit it, it takes away that excuse of time because there is probably something else that you could stop doing to give you time, but one of the cool things about teaching guitar is that you can really work as little or as much as you want to. When you’re just starting out, it’s really best to do this part-time anyway, until you get a little more established. You know, you can keep your day job for security reasons, for financial security, and then grow your teaching business on the side. And then, once you make enough from your business to cover your monthly expenses, you can build up a savings cushion and then you can make the switch and quit your day job. That’s what I recommend. Not jumping into that too quickly.

But while you’re doing all of that, you can limit yourself to as few students as you think you can manage and have the time to teach. So, if all you have is three hours a week to dedicate to teaching, then fine, only accept three students for right now. Put the rest of them on a waiting list or refer them to another teacher in town, and just focus on teaching those three students in the window of time that you have. It’s that simple. And then, when you free up more time, maybe you can add a fourth student or a fifth student, or maybe you can free up your whole day on Saturday and then you can teach ten students or something like that. You know, you’re in complete control of your schedule as a guitar teacher, so you can decide how many you’re going to teach, when you’re going to teach them, and how much time you’re going to spend doing that. It’s totally up to you.

So, don’t let your busy lifestyle stand between you and your dreams of teaching guitar. Instead, what you’ve got to do is, and no one like to hear this, but it’s true, you have to make a few small sacrifices to just free up a few hours a week to get started. And I think you’re going to get hooked on it and before long you’re going to be looking for other stuff to move or cancel so that you can free up even more time to teach, because it’s one of the most fulfilling things that you can do as a musician. So, you’ve just got to do it. And I was kind of poking around the web and I found this website. It’s actually WomensMedia.com. It’s an article on that website. It’s called Five Cures for Business. I’ll link to it in the show notes for you, but the woman who wrote this article gave five tips that can cure being too busy, and they’re common sense.

I’m not going to elaborate on all of them, but I’ll just share them with you. Number one: quit something. If you’re too busy, that means you’re doing too much stuff. Quit something. Number two: make a plan. Okay, decide what’s important in your life and what isn’t, and then get rid of some of the stuff that’s not important. Number three: get out of your inbox. You know, and this also applies to social media, but a lot of times, we waste hours a day on the Internet, goofing through our emails and reading stuff on Facebook, and things like that, or Google Plus. So, get out of your inbox is tip number three to make time and not be so busy. Number four is ask for help. You can ask people to help do some of the things that you’re spending all of your time doing so that you can free up time to do things that really matter.

And then number five – this is the big one: just say no. A lot of times, the reason we’re so busy is because we say yes to everything everybody asks us to do. Instead, prioritize that stuff. If it’s really important and you need to do it, say yes. If not, say no. You know, instead of saying, “I’m too busy to teach guitar lessons,” tell those people that are trying to get you to do things that you’re too busy to do that because you have to teach guitar lessons. So, don’t let your busy lifestyle be an excuse to keep you from doing this. Instead, change your lifestyle. Free up some time so that you can become the teacher that you want to be. Honestly, busyness is really just an excuse, so my advice for you is to stop making excuses and start teaching some guitar lessons instead. So, that’s number six. It doesn’t have to take too much of your time.

Lie #7 – I Don’t Have What It Takes To Succeed With My Own Business

And then the last one – lie number seven – is I don’t have what it takes to succeed with my own business. I don’t have what it takes to succeed with my own business. This one relates back to lie number three, not being a good enough player. It kind of comes from the same root lie about not being good enough. You know? But to be successful, to prove this lie false, all it requires is it comes down to your attitude and then just minimizing the risk.

You do have what it takes. You’ve just got to believe that you have what it takes, and then you’ve got to minimize the risk as much as possible so that you can succeed. So, most people have never tried running their own business before. A lot of you that are listening to this right now, you’re in the same category. You’ve never tried to run your own business. You’ve basically just been an employee or you’ve done other things like that, and you’ve never been a business owner. And whenever you’re starting out with your business and you’ve never done it before, it’s something new. It’s unfamiliar. It can be scary at times. It’s the fear of the unknown.

You’ve never walked down that road before, so you don’t know what to expect, and yes, it can be risky if you don’t be smart about it. If you’re not smart about it, there is a lot risk that can happen, and there’s a reason why I did an episode a couple weeks ago about why 50 percent of guitar teacher fail. There is the risk of failure, but you can greatly minimize that if you’re smart. You know? So, what I try to do when I’m confronted by something scary that I would like to do – this is a good exercise – is just to imagine the worst-case scenario. If I start teaching guitar lessons part-time, what’s the worst that could possibly happen? Ask yourself that. If I start teaching guitar part-time, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?

Well, you might feel a little awkward if you don’t know what to do for a few minutes. You know? A student asks a question. Maybe you don’t know the answer to it. That might feel a little bit awkward. Well, that’s not so bad. That’s just a feeling. You can deal with that. Maybe someone might not like studying with you for some reason and they might quit, and that would make you feel rejected and make you feel bad about yourself. Yeah, that might happen. There’s a pretty good chance it will happen, at least once, but that’s okay. There’s a lot of other people that will enjoy studying with you and that won’t quit. And after all, those feelings of rejection are just feelings. They’re emotions. You can deal with those.

You know, what else could be the worst thing that could possibly happen? I don’t know. A meteor might fall from the sky and land in my teaching studio and kill me. I mean I don’t know. I’m being facetious, right? But the point I’m trying to make is, whatever the worst case scenario is, it’s not all that bad. Honestly, the risks are really low if you take it slow and you do it the smart way. So, just to reiterate, doing it the smart way means don’t quit your day job until you’re really ready. Make sure you have a savings cushion in place. Stay out of debt. Doing it the smart way means that you keep learning and growing in your business skills, your teaching skills, and your playing skills.

It means that you find some like-minded people that you can talk with to get encouragement, to get motivation, to keep on feeding that fire of entrepreneurship inside of your life there. And all of those things will help make your business be success and you can avoid a lot of the failure stuff. That’s one of the reasons I created STG All-Access, the membership program; is so that I can provide that. I could keep giving people information for their business skills, their teaching skills. There’s tons of stuff out there on playing, so I don’t focus on that so much, but I also try to give out a lot of encouragement and motivation, and all of those kinds of things on a weekly basis through STG All-Access, and it also provides a way for everyone who listens and joins to interact with each other on the forum and build those relationships that can help you be successful in your business.

But to get back to my point, most of the time, the thing that you’re so afraid of – you know, this big, ominous fear that keeps you from stepping out and starting your own business, teaching lessons – is not really any big deal at all. It just gets overblown in your mind and because you’ve never done it before, it just paralyzes you, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Again, you do have what it takes. The seeds of brilliance, the seeds of greatness are within each and every one of us. Just do a little bit of research. You know, get some information under your belt, and then just try. Man, just try. You might just surprise yourself at how well you do. Okay, so that was lie number seven.

Now, I have a special surprise. Okay, I mentioned STG All-Access a minute ago. For all of you STG All-Access members that are listening to this, I have three bonus lies for you. Yay! These three lies that I’m about to tell you about are directly related to marketing, competition, and the economy. So, if you want to find out what those three lies are, then become an STG All-Access member today.

Thank You For Listening!

If you enjoyed this episode, or any of the other of the episodes of the STG podcast, and you haven’t left a rating or review yet on iTunes, I would really appreciate an honest rating and review from you. It’s one of the most important parts of the ranking algorithm in iTunes, but more importantly, it’ll show future listeners that this podcast is (or isn’t) worth listening to.

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STG 030 : 7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Teaching Guitar Lessons was last modified: June 10th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder

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