How To Make A Good Living As A Guitar Teacher

By Tom Hess

Chances are, you are not currently earning as much money as you would like to in your guitar teaching business. Fact is, most guitar teachers do ‘not’ make a good living and will never fully understand what they are doing wrong. Here is the unfortunate reality for the vast majority of guitar teachers:

1. The majority of guitar teachers do not make enough money to make ends meet.

2. Most of these same guitar teachers have never helped any students to become GREAT guitar players.

3. Guitar teachers frequently report working excessive hours while making little pay.

On the other hand, there exists a small percentage of highly successful guitar teachers who:

1. Make a minimum of 6 figures each year in their guitar teaching businesses.

2. Quickly turn their guitar students from mediocre players to highly skilled players.

3. Are able to add extra value for their students because they have extra time, energy and resources to put into their guitar instruction.

4. Generally work no more than part time hours every week.

At first, most people are shocked to hear about the above points. As someone who has trained countless people to develop successful guitar teaching businesses (by joining the elite top 1% club), I know all of these things to be true.

Additionally, the majority of guitar teachers out there do not fail because they are necessarily ‘bad’ at teaching guitar. Instead, they fail because they believe in the ‘common knowledge’ they have heard being perpetuated by other unsuccessful guitar teachers. These approaches seem rational at first glance, but in fact are highly damaging for your guitar teaching business in many ways.

Here are the top 7 conventional guitar teaching approaches that lead to failure:

1. Lowering Your Lesson Rates In Order To Compete With Other Guitar Teachers

While giving lessons in a town or city with heavy competition from other guitar teachers, it is natural to think that lowering your lesson rates will give more potential students a chance to work with you. If you are considering this approach, chances are you think that giving cheaper lessons will make you stand out from the more ‘expensive’ guitar teachers in your area. You may have even heard students complain about not wanting to spend a lot of money on guitar lessons and allowed this to affect your judgment. However, in the end this approach will backfire on you. Here’s why:

  • The fact that you charge very cheap rates for lessons tells potential students that you are either new to teaching guitar or are not very good at it. In fact, most students assume that teachers with higher priced lessons charge more because they can get better results. So by charging a small amount for your lessons, you are really only driving away serious students (who are ready to spend money). The more serious a student is, the less likely they are to even think about taking lessons with you when you are the cheapest guitar teacher in town.
  • When you charge cheap rates for lessons from the beginning, this tells potential students that the only difference from one guitar teacher to the next is the ‘price’ (which is totally untrue, although many students think this). With this in mind, it will be very difficult for you to raise your teaching rates in the future. You will be locked into the false perception you created in the mind of your students and will never be able to make as much money as you want.
  • The guitar students you work with will take lessons much less seriously, practice much less and get few results in their guitar playing. Remember, when someone pays very little for something, they value it much less than if they had to pay a lot for it. Charge more for your lessons rather than less and your students will take everything more seriously and get more out of the time they spend with you.

All of these issues will hold you back from ever reaching significant success as a guitar teacher.

So how can you solve this issue and how much SHOULD you charge for guitar lessons? Always make sure that you charge a ‘minimum’ of the average price in your local area (even if you are just getting started). Next, work to make your guitar lessons as valuable as possible in order to transform your students into great guitar players very quickly. Once you can do this, you gain the leverage to raise your rates and have a justified reason for doing so. Learn how to become the most successful guitar instructor in your city or town with the best guitar teacher training.

2. ‘Only’ Focusing On Attracting New Guitar Students

When you first begin teaching guitar, you obviously need to find new students. With this in mind, it is easy for most guitar teachers to ‘only’ think about attracting new students while ignoring all other aspects of their guitar teaching business. This approach will present you with these problems:

  •  Since you do not have a solid strategy for ‘keeping’ your students, you must invest countless hours into your promotional efforts due to the fact that the new students you gain only replace the ones you lost.
  • You will only make slow progress at best to build your guitar teaching business (even if you get more new students than you lose current ones). However, you can achieve much faster growth by working in several different areas simultaneously, such as: student retention, student referrals and converting potential students into actual students.

Following this approach WILL prevent you from making a lot of money through guitar teaching (especially during difficult economic times)

Fortunately, you can avoid these problems by making an effort to consistently improve in ALL areas of your guitar teaching business. By doing this, your business will improve exponentially and the amount of effort needed for major growth with decrease over time.

3. Always Showing Your Guitar Students Anything They Want To Learn

Many guitar teachers are in the habit of asking their students what they want to learn each time they take lessons. They believe that it is the responsibility of the student to tell the teacher what they need to work on. This is TOTALLY untrue. Consider this: if your guitar students actually knew what they needed to work on, wouldn’t they have already done it themselves and reached their guitar playing goals? The truth is that most guitar students are clueless about what they ‘should’ be working on to get better (this is why they came to you in the first place). It is not the student’s responsibility to figure this out, it is yours. You must always learn the student’s ‘long term goals’ up front and design an effective strategy to help them reach these goals. Additionally, you need to help your guitar students understand specifically WHY the things you teach them are both what they ‘need’ and ‘want’ to learn.

Your guitar students will never become great players if you allow them to tell you what to teach them. At most, they will be able to play a few isolated ideas but will never be able to put it all together to become a great musician. In most cases, if you teach guitar using this approach, you will quickly lose your students when they do not start seeing big results.

To make matters worse, you will be damaging your reputation when you do not get the results that your students want. This will make it very hard to sustain a successful guitar teaching business in your local area.

4. Making Changes To Your Guitar Teaching Business Based Only On What Other Local Teachers Are Doing

As a new guitar teacher, you will naturally be inclined to look at what your competitors are doing and try to use this information to build your guitar teaching business. However, as you read earlier in this article, the overwhelming majority of guitar teachers are unsuccessful. With this in mind, it makes no sense for you to try to copy the same things they are doing.

Rather than doing this, you should find a tight group of successful guitar teachers who are willing to share their insights with you. Of course, you will not be able to find such a group in your local area (obviously your competitors are not going to share their ideas with you). To find a network of successful guitar teachers who are willing to discuss their secrets with you, you will need to contact teachers who are ‘not’ living in the same area as you.

Many guitar teachers take part in my guitar teacher coaching program where they gain the advantage of being in a powerful network full of successful, high-earning music instructors who are ready and willing to share their insights.

5. Not Being Able To Say ‘No’ To Your Students

One of the biggest downfalls for most guitar teachers is that they do not enforce their teaching policies because they are afraid that it will cause them to lose students. In reality, failing to create and enforce a strong policy will eventually cause your guitar teaching business to fail. Here’s why:

A. This attracts guitar students who are not serious about learning. This means you will have to deal with students who are consistently late, do not pay on time and do not practice like they are supposed to.

B. Due to the above point, you will use all of your energy on ‘non-serious’ students and have little left to spare for the SERIOUS students who really do want to learn, pay on time and practice every day.

C. You will spend much less time teaching your students to become great musicians and much more time accommodating them with makeup lessons and chasing down late payments. This will lead your students to make very little progress while you make a smaller income and quickly become tired of working as a guitar teacher.

So what is a solution to this problem? Understand that ‘you’ know much more about what your students need to learn (regarding music/guitar) than they do. Develop your teaching policy based around this. Then make sure that your students understand your expectations and why following your policy is in their best interest. If they try to get you to change your policy, refuse to teach them (in other words… ‘fire’ them as students).

6. Becoming A Guitar Teacher At A Music Store

It is a very common belief among new guitar teachers that working at a music store is the best choice for making a good living because:

A. They do not have to find students by themselves. The music store does all the work.

B. They feel it is more professional to work from a music store instead of working out of their own home.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is why teaching guitar from a music store will cause you to fail:

  • It is simply not true that music stores will do all of the promotional work for you. In reality, they do not have a strong incentive to get students specifically for ‘you’. The truth is, no matter if you are working from a music store or on your own, you must learn how to effectively attract new guitar students on your own.
  • Additionally, you make less money when you work from a music store because you must give a large percentage of your earnings to the owner. This makes it more challenging to earn a good living as a guitar teacher.
  • To make things worse, music stores generally are very strict about the teaching formats they allow. In many cases, you are limited to teaching only private 1 on 1 lessons and not allowed to help your guitar students progress faster using other formats. This makes it harder to get big results for your students.
  • Since you can’t get great results for your students, it will be very difficult to develop the positive reputation needed to grow your guitar teaching business to the next level.

The most successful and highest earning guitar teachers never teach out of music stores. Instead, they run their own business and hire other guitar teachers to work for them. If you want to make a great living teaching guitar, you must treat it like a business and learn all you can in order to improve every aspect of it.

7. Promoting Yourself As A ‘General’ Guitar Teacher

Another misconception that most guitar teachers have is that you should try to reach as many students as possible through a highly generalized marketing approach. These teachers promote themselves by saying they teach in ‘any’ style.

The truth is, promoting yourself in this manner will mostly attract students who aren’t very serious about guitar lessons and/or don’t know what they want to play on guitar. These types of students are likely to not take practice seriously, only take lessons for a short period of time and will not be very cooperative with your lesson policies.

On the other hand, the greatest guitar students (who you want to work with) are always looking for a teacher who specializes in a specific niche because they know what they want to play and invest the time to look for someone who can help them play it.

When you gain a schedule full of students who aren’t very serious about learning guitar, you WILL become frustrated from endless cancelled lessons, late payments and other issues. Although these problems are only partially related to the topic of becoming a ‘general’ guitar teacher, they are fully caused by it and will hold you back from earning a living as a successful guitar teacher.

That being said, don’t make the mistake of choosing such a narrow niche that there are no guitar students who are interested in the style you teach. The main point is you will be much more successful if you market your guitar lessons as ‘rock’ guitar lessons (or blues, jazz, etc.) than if you simply market yourself as a general guitar teacher.

Overall, understand that making a good living as a guitar teacher is not the same as simply having a lot of students. Not only must you fill up your teaching schedule, but you must fill it up with the ‘right’ students. These are the students who will quickly make progress, stay with you for many years and help you develop a positive reputation as the best teacher in your location.

Although I have not discussed ‘all’ of the things that cause guitar teachers to fail, after reading the points above you have gained a better understanding of why most commonly accepted guitar teaching approaches are actually ineffective and problematic.

The most reliable method for avoiding failure in your guitar teaching business is to find the best guitar teacher training that will solve any issues you are currently facing. When you are aware of the problems that keep you from reaching success, you will then be prepared to take all the necessary actions to grow your guitar teaching business and earn more income from it than you ever thought possible!


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 develop better guitar teaching methods. Go to to read more information on guitar teaching, get free guitar teaching skill assessments and powerful guitar teaching tips.

Taking Lessons For Guitar? Here’s 7 Unfortunate Truths About Your Guitar Teacher

by Tom Hess

REALITY: Most guitar instructors have never taken the time to develop their teaching skills. Unfortunately, this means you must become their student ‘experiment’ as they learn through trial and error. Before you take another lesson, here are the seven things that your guitar teacher has never told you (that you need to know!):

1. “The truth is, I was never trained in any way to effectively teach guitar.” It is true that many guitar teachers previously learned how to play guitar through lessons (or even by going to school to learn), however 99/100 guitar teachers have no actual training when it comes to ‘teaching’ guitar. Most guitar teachers began teaching by using an improvisational, trial by error approach that they still use to this day. Fortunately for you, these people are not the same people who clean your teeth, fix your car or handle your bank account. It astounds me how so many guitar students never think to ask their teachers whether or not they received any kind of training for what they do. This point alone explains why so many students who take lessons from mediocre guitar teachers never become great guitarists.

2. “I’m teaching you guitar with a generic approach that I use for everyone. It might work… it might not work. I don’t really know for sure.” One of the most common ways that guitar teachers hide their lack of knowledge and experience is to use a generalized approach for everyone they teach. Almost every time I start training a guitar teacher, they ask me: “Tom, do you know any kind of methods I can use in my guitar teaching so I don’t have to worry about what I should teach my students every week?” The truth is, with the exception of total ‘beginners’, your guitar teacher MUST use a specific teaching strategy for each of his students (including you) in order to help them effectively improve and reach their goals.

3. “With me, you are limited to playing at a beginner or intermediate level. By keeping you at this level, I can make more money.” There are few guitar teachers who can teach students beyond an intermediate level. In fact, many of them are afraid that you will get ‘too advanced’ and stop taking lessons because they can no longer offer valuable insight. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of teachers purposely hold back their guitar students, thinking that this is the only way to stay in business.

4. “I don’t know how to teach anything besides 1 on 1 lessons.”Contrary to what many teachers will tell you, learning guitar using a private one on one format is NOT the greatest system to learn with. The teachers who try to get you to believe this myth have no experience training A LOT of people to reach high levels of guitar playing. If they did, they would understand that you can get much better results by using a variety of other highly effective guitar learning formats.

5. “Whenever you come in for your guitar lesson, I simply make it up as I go along. I really have no plan whatsoever.” The vast majority of guitar teachers have zero training on how to teach guitar. On top of that, many of them have not even planned out what they are going to teach you from lesson to lesson. When was the last time you took a guitar lesson and felt like your guitar teacher had already prepared a specific plan to help you reach your musical goals? Chances are, you have never felt this way.

6. “Want to become an advanced guitar player? Well you can forget about it if you learn from me.” Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because a guitar teacher has a lot of students, he has helped them become highly skilled players. In reality, most teachers don’t know how to teach guitar on an advanced level or get big results for their students. Fact is, you will never be able to become an advanced guitarist as long as you are taking lessons from someone who doesn’t know how to turn his students into great guitar players.

7. “You want to become a creative guitar player? Sorry, I cannot teach you that… you’re either naturally creative or you’re not creative at all.” Just about every guitar teacher out there (falsely) assumes that creativity cannot be taught. These teachers believe that being able to play creatively on guitar is a gift that you were born with. If you take lessons from a teacher like this, you will never become a creative guitar player because your guitar teacher simply doesn’t know how to help you develop this skill. These teachers will only show you WHAT to play but never how to use it in actual music. Fact is, creativity is a skill that can be developed just like any other skill on guitar.

Now that you have learned what happens ‘behind the scenes’ with (mediocre) guitar teachers, find out finding the best guitar teacher.

Finally, let me give you three big reasons why you should listen to what I have to say:

1. I teach thousands of correspondence guitar lessons to guitar players around the world every year.

2. I have loads of proof of helping my online guitar students become advanced guitarists.

3. I have created a specialized guitar teaching training program that has helped many guitar teachers become highly successful in their guitar teaching businesses (as seen in this Elite Guitar Teachers Inner Circle review).

About The Author:


Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He helps guitarists around the world with his personalized guitar lessons. Visit his electric guitar player lessons website and get free guitar advice, guitar practice help, and additional advice on how to become a better musician.

How To Know If You Have Mastered Vibrato On Guitar

Do you know how much your vibrato has improved over the last  6-12 months of playing guitar? Most musicians have no way to answer this  question because vibrato is believed to be impossible to track progress with.  Because of this, guitar vibrato rarely gets the practice time it deserves,  leading to far too many guitarists playing with very inexpressive and simply  ‘bad’ sounding vibrato.

To start, study the video below where I will show you how  simple it is to assess your level of mastery over vibrato. Watch the video  below before reading further:


To see the next part  of this video, study this page about guitar vibrato technique.

After studying the above procedure for testing the current  state of your vibrato, you need to adapt it as part of your regular practicing  to track your progress with vibrato over time. Here is how you need to do this:

1. Don’t spend all of your practice time (for vibrato)  practicing on only 1 pitch. You must also work on this skill in the real-life  application scenarios of guitar licks and solos. Although this seems obvious,  many people get stuck in practicing a certain technique in isolation without  applying it into the real world.

2. Log the metronome tempos at which you are able to play  vibrato technique, just like you track your progress with speed building  exercises (scale sequences, arpeggios etc.). Of course when you do vibrato in  actual music, it doesn’t need to be strictly in time all the time, but you must  have the skill to allow yourself to make it so, if needed. THAT is what will  make it possible to choose the best and most expressive way of using vibrato in  your songs and melodies. Knowing the precise metronome tempo at which you can  do controlled vibrato will give you the perfect indication of how this area of  your technique is progressing.

3. Spend some time recording your vibrato practice sessions  and then listen back to the recordings at “half tempo” (this can be easily  achieved in any computer recording program). Doing this will make it easier for  your ears to perceive the nuances of how your vibrato sounds in real time. Most  guitarists never analyzed their playing in that much detail and doing so leads  to many new discoveries on how to make your guitar playing better.

4. When you do vibrato within guitar licks and solos, vary  the rhythmic values you use to play it (exactly like I demonstrated for you in  the video tutorial above). This is important to do because you don’t want to be  boxed into only doing vibrato in a single way all the time. I also put this as  a separate step from simply “training with a click”, because you will be  thinking differently when playing over a musical track about your phrasing and  vibrato than you will when practicing to a metronome.

Don’t forget the final result you are after: to make your  vibrato sound GREAT. So don’t make the mistake of focusing on the tempo at  which you are doing vibrato and losing sight of the other elements that must be  refined to totally master vibrato.

Implement the above points into your practicing and you will  start to see your vibrato (and your guitar playing) sound much better than ever  before.

About the author: Mike Philippov is an educational guitar author, professional  guitar player and composer. He writes articles and publishes videos about the  best ways to practice guitar that are studied by many musicians worldwide. To  get more help with becoming a better guitar player, visit his guitar practicing website.