The Secret To Achieving Great Success As A Guitar Teacher

by Tom Hess

Tom Hess, virtuoso guitarist and musician, member of Rhapsody Of Fire and guitar teacher trainer helps guitar teachers understand the psychology behind achieving success in their guitar teaching businesses.

Have you ever noticed how some guitar teachers seem to “have it easy” when it comes to getting great results for their students? If you are like most guitar teachers, you have sometimes struggled to attract guitar students and take them to a new level in their guitar playing skills. This only becomes more frustrating after watching other guitar teachers succeed where you are unable to. However, the truth is that you can also achieve great things as a guitar teacher as well once you understand exactly what makes these teachers so successful.

After teaching over one thousand students as a professional guitar teacher and helping many other teachers learn how to become more productive in getting results for their students, I have spent a great deal of time figuring out the whole story behind what makes some teachers successful and others mediocre in order to best help my clients attain great results in their guitar teaching businesses. After much research, I have observed that most guitar teachers posses some kind of balance between two sides in their mindset. These sides consist of one side that focuses on strengths and another that focuses on weaknesses. The guitar teachers who have highly successful guitar teaching businesses have mastered the ability to channel the side of them that focuses on using their strengths to their advantage while guitar teachers who do not experience much success tend to think mostly from the side of them that focuses on weakness (more on this shortly).

Previously, I have created many guitar teaching articles that deal with specific ideas on what you should ‘do’ as a guitar teacher to make your guitar teaching business more successful (if you have not read them, check out this free earning a great living as a guitar teacher eBook to see how you can become financially stable while teaching guitar). For the purposes of this article, I am going to explain to you a concept that will be instrumental in your growth and success as a guitar teacher. When I personally train guitar teachers to become more effective in their teaching strategies, they become very familiar with this idea.

The Psychology Of A Guitar Teacher

As guitar teachers (and people in general), we all have different parts of our psychological makeup that direct our behavior in every action we take. Similarly, the way you develop expertise as a musician or guitar teacher depends on the skills that you focus on most. That said, for each ‘strong’ quality you possess in your musical or teaching abilities, there exists an opposing (and connected) ‘weak’ quality that often keeps you from reaching your full potential. If these weak qualities remain undetected, they will quickly overwhelm your strong qualities until you take the time to identify and correct them. This commonly occurs to all guitar teachers (experienced and inexperienced (usually without them even knowing about it).

If you have not yet become a successful guitar teacher, it will be very important for you to learn how to gain the most benefit from your strengths while avoiding the negative side effects of the weaknesses that come bundled together with them. If you are unable to do this, all of your efforts to learn how to become a great guitar teacher will be destined to FAIL!

Every guitar teacher will a successful guitar teaching business knows about this, and fortunately; you can learn this for yourself regardless of whether or not it is something that comes naturally to you.

To demonstrate my point, I am going to show you some of the most common traits I observe in the guitar teachers I train each day. In the chart below, I will show you how each personality strength also contains a weakness. The truth is, there are many more weaknesses per strength than what I have included, but I have narrowed it down to just one in order to keep this article from becoming too long.

It is essential to identify that each one of the strengths in the left column of this chart are certainly good characteristics to have and will be helpful in making you a better guitar teacher. However, you must also recognize the different ways that these strengths can also turn into weaknesses until you take the initiative to learn how to stop them from doing so.

Your Strength Opposing Weakness
You have a passion to teach guitar and help your students achieve results. Being passionate about teaching guitar is certainly a MUST if you want to become a successful guitar teacher. However, many guitar teachers who are highly passionate tend to ignore the business aspect of teaching guitar for a living. As a result, they end up teaching (and helping) less students overall since they do not earn enough money to expand their guitar teaching business. The truth is, the more money you make, the more you can invest it into building the value of your guitar lessons in order to give more to your students.
You already have a good amount of experience teaching guitar/music lessons. After teaching guitar for a while, it becomes hard for these types of guitar teachers to break away from the methods they are used to. This approach becomes very limiting over time as continually using the same methods does not bring great results for new students. In order to achieve great results for your guitar students (and take a step forward in your teaching skills), you will need to innovate and break away from some of the methods you are accustomed to.
Your guitar playing skills are highly developed. A lot of great guitar players have difficulty identifying with the challenges of low level guitarists (who are by the way – the majority of guitar students). As a result, these types of guitar teachers are lacking in an area that affects most of their potential students. You must be able to relate to the challenges of your students who are just starting (or are not at a high level in their playing yet). Many guitar teachers with great guitar playing skills fall short in this area.
You play several instruments in addition to guitar. When guitar students look for someone to teach them guitar, they are much more prone to seek the help of an ‘expert’ who specializes in guitar rather than someone who teaches many different instruments. By marketing yourself as a teacher of many instruments, you may actually end up doing more harm than good to your reputation as a guitar teacher.
You have a very disciplined approach to learning guitar and take music very seriously. Guitar teachers who possess this strength generally cannot relate to students who are learning guitar “just for fun”. The truth is that almost all of your guitar students will be interested in guitar as a hobby, and until you can relate to their basic guitar playing goals on their level, you will have a hard time getting them to come back for lessons.
You have a lot of ambition and many ideas for expanding your guitar teaching business. The guitar teachers in this category are prone to beginning many new projects out of strong enthusiasm; but end up leaving most of them unfinished. To them, it feels like they are working very hard, but in reality they are making very little progress.
You have achieved many things in your professional music career. As you invest a lot of time into your music career, it usually leaves very little time to improve your teaching skills so you can teach guitar at a high level. In fact, this is a major reason why many pro musicians who are already successful in their music careers are unable to help their students achieve BIG results.
You are very self-dependent. Self-dependence is a great quality to have; however many guitar teachers who are strong in this area feel a resistance to asking for help when they need it. In order to develop your guitar teaching business, you can steer clear of many common obstacles by learning from someone who has already been down the same road as you.
You spend a lot of time rationalizing different possibilities in any given situation. While it is a great quality to be able to map out different possibilities for the scenarios that may pop up in your guitar teaching business; this can often lead to “over-analyzation”. While it is important to think things through, it is also important that you take the necessary action to do what needs to get done in order to realize your guitar teaching goals.
You enjoy offering all you can for your guitar students and making every lesson as enjoyable as possible. Guitar teachers who seek to give their guitar students as much value as they can have a tendency to overcompensate and give “too much”. Additionally, these types of teachers have a hard time with confrontation and struggle to enforce their teaching policies.
You have a great work ethic and persistence when working on important tasks. It is very easy for someone who sticks to a task with great persistence to become “stubborn”. This can be highly counter-intuitive if the task you are working on is not very effective at accomplishing your guitar teaching goals.
You spend a lot of time coming up with creative new ideas. These guitar teachers have a habit of overlooking common (yet successful) teaching or business methods in order to try new approaches. To be a great guitar teacher you must innovate; however, not at the expense of giving up conventional approaches that already work.

What do you need to do now?

Now that you understand the concept behind how your strong qualities also can contain weak qualities embedded within them; here are several steps that you can take now in order to get the most benefit from these ideas to develop your guitar teaching business:

1. Get more insight on how you can improve your strengths and minimize their negative side effects by taking this guitar teacher improvement test.

2. Invest the time to come up with a solid plan for how you will maximize the benefits you receive from your strengths while avoiding the negative aspects that may come along with them. Take note of the daily actions you take as a guitar teacher and compare them the chart above in order to help you identify and eliminate any limiting thoughts that will keep you from becoming a great guitar teacher.

3. Understand that knowing how to maintain a great balance between your strengths and weaknesses will require much insight, practice and continued training. Most guitar teachers have developed entrepreneurial mindsets and have a tendency to act on their “gut” instincts. They generally see planning as something that must be done, but nevertheless have a resistance to sitting down and mapping things out. If this resonates strongly with you, or if you are struggling to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, then you will benefit greatly by seeking the advice of someone who can show you how to effectively apply these things into your guitar teaching business.

4. Make a commitment to refine your current approach in your guitar teaching business by keeping the above ideas in mind.

That said, you should certainly continue learning more about the things that you need to “do” as a successful guitar teacher. However, remember that learning new teaching skills is not the only piece of the puzzle. In order to quickly become a great guitar teacher, you must first assess your strong and weak qualities as described in this article. Only then will you be able to take full advantage of all the things you learn. Once you have the ability to utilize the full potential of all your strongest qualities, your success as a guitar teacher will quickly take off.

To learn more on how to build your success teaching guitar, fill out this free guitar teacher improvement test and get the (no cost) eBook on earning a great living as a guitar teacher.

About The Author: Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar teacher, composer and the guitarist of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He also trains guitar teachers how to improve their guitar teaching methods. Visit his website, to read more articles about guitar teaching, get free guitar teacher skill assessments and guitar teaching tips.

How To Create Rock Guitar Solo Improvisations


By Tom Hess

Are you having a hard time thinking up great rock guitar solo improvisations? If so, you are in the company of many guitarists. Fact is, there are endless amounts of guitar players who want to play guitar solos in a highly creative manner; however, for one reason or another, very few have the ability to do so. So why does this happen?

1. A very high percentage of the guitar playing community has NOT invested much time into developing their guitar phrasing abilities. This severely limits their ability to improvise inspiring guitar solo licks because they only understand ‘what’ needs to be played but not ‘how’ to play it!

2. The majority of guitar players who want to play guitar solos think that they must build their solos from a series of isolated guitar licks in order to make them sound better (although this is not true).

If you are looking to make massive positive change in your ability to improvise rock guitar solos, it will require consistent and focused effort to build your understanding of the points above (I teach my guitar students in detail about these things with my correspondence rock guitar lessons). With this in mind, you can work on improving your rock guitar improvisation skills right now using the guitar licks you already know very well. In fact, by doing this you can quickly create great guitar solo improvisation ideas in the moment without learning any new guitar melodies. To illustrate how you can do this for yourself, I am going to show you a highly effective guitar soloing approach.

Here is the process you should follow:

1. Locate a backing track that contains chords you feel good soloing over.

2. Think of a short guitar melody that you are already familiar with and can play with reliable accuracy.

3. Start the track with the chords you made (or found online) and play the guitar lick you chose over it.

4. After you have played your guitar lick one time over the backing track, do NOT play something new. Rather than adding in a totally new lick, play the same lick from step two; except this time make a variation of this lick using any one of the following methods:

· Use an alternate rhythm for the notes you are playing while keeping the actual pitches the same.

· Change some or all of the pitches in your guitar lick while keeping the rhythm of the notes the same.

· Create a different ending for the lick you are playing while playing all of the previous notes the same (additionally, try this while the chords of the backing track are changing).

· Utilize different techniques such as vibrato, legato and bending to add extra ornamentation to your lick.

Try to come up with a total of ten alternate ways to play the guitar lick you chose without entirely changing the lick itself. I know that in a “real” guitar solo you will not be playing the exact same lick over and over. However, by going through this process, you can greatly enhance your ability to improvise creative guitar solo ideas.

After you have improvised ten variations, choose a new guitar lick that is different from the previous one and repeat the steps of this exercise for the remainder of your guitar practice session.

The approach described above is an entirely different one than the one most guitarists take when they improvise rock guitar solos. Focusing on coming up with many variations of a single guitar solo lick is actually a lot less difficult than trying to jam together several unrelated guitar licks and improvise at the same time. Additionally, this process of improvising a single rock guitar lick will sound much better because you have many different guitar phrasing techniques at your disposal that you can use to enhance the notes of each lick you choose.

You may think that this guitar soloing approach sounds like a really basic approach. If so, you’re right… this approach is both basic and incredibly productive at building your rock guitar playing skills. In fact, this is the same approach I have used many hundreds of times to help guitar players learn to play great lead guitar improvisations.

Learn how you can play great rock guitar solos using the exact approach in this article by checking out this free guitar improvisation video:




About The Author: Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and the guitarist of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He also trains musicians to reach their guitar playing goals in his rock guitar lessons online. Visit his rock and metal guitar lessons site to read more articles about guitar playing, plus get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.