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  1. #1

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    If you teach music is it hard to get a lot of students? I live in NYC and boy is it competitive to find students. I have a very small pool of students, but I'm looking to expand my base and build a website, and do online teaching. My preference is for in person lessons though. How have you expanded your teaching business outside of gigs. Luckily I have other non musical projects as a source of my main income. Thanks!
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I hadn't taught for some time. Still have 1 student left over from NYC. I just walked into the local Y in Lansdale, PA for a meal at a kitchen in the same building from people called Manna on Main Street. As an afterthought---musicians always being on the hustle---I walked into the Y's office meaning to ask about teaching guitar in their music program. To my amazement I was told they didn't have one, but the sports director handles that. I spoke to her and in maybe 5 minutes sold her on having guitar and songwriting lessons. She enthusiastically agreed, and added that there would be private lessons too, at a higher pay rate. They also have a performance space and budget. I start in Sept., and can hardly wait.

    If you don't ask, you'll never know...

  4. #3

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    Glad to hear that fasttrack. Moving to PA worked out for you after all. Guess you really got to hustle by asking around and be willing to have someone say no, or worst, slam the door in your face. Good luck!
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  5. #4

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    I do. I dont have private students anymore, but I work in school 2 days a week. I used to do more, but I decided I want to play more gigs, and it started to overlap.

    Teaching is not easy. If I could I'd rather only play, or have very few students that I believe I can teach something and not waste my time . But for now I cant be too picky.

    I also live in NYC.

  6. #5

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    I don't teach music but if I did, I'd do it online.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack View Post
    I hadn't taught for some time. Still have 1 student left over from NYC. I just walked into the local Y in Lansdale, PA for a meal at a kitchen in the same building from people called Manna on Main Street. As an afterthought---musicians always being on the hustle---I walked into the Y's office meaning to ask about teaching guitar in their music program. To my amazement I was told they didn't have one, but the sports director handles that. I spoke to her and in maybe 5 minutes sold her on having guitar and songwriting lessons. She enthusiastically agreed, and added that there would be private lessons too, at a higher pay rate. They also have a performance space and budget. I start in Sept., and can hardly wait.

    If you don't ask, you'll never know...
    Good for you, Joel!

    My father once walked into a foreman's office and announced, "The new welder's here!" He got the job - and lasted until he had to tell the truth about his age. (He was in his eighties.)

  8. #7

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    I teach some and its competitive everywhere even small cities. Right now where I'm at all teachers are on the hussle because school is out for summer and students stopping lessons for vacations and other activities. The teachers here that make a full time living besides gigging have all expanded their teaching to include beginner piano, vocals, and some teach bass. This summer 2017 seems like more teachers are groaning than usual. Other thing I see is less people asking for guitar and more asking for violin, cello, reeds and some brass. The ones asking for guitar and bass lessons seem to be adults wanting to play Rock/Country and relive their youth.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  9. #8

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    I teach two days a week in my studio and one day a week online via skype. I also gig regularly. its a balancing act to keep it all together but I am fortunate not to have to hustle for students. (at least not lately) I really love to teach so I'll always do it.
    all the best
    Tim

  10. #9
    I 've taught for a long time now, both privately and in conservatories. It is always been hard to balance gigging, practicing and teaching, but i somehow manage . You basically have to be out there in the scene, playing, teaching, and students come. In order for them to stay though, you have to be professional at teaching too, and not treat it as second place to the gigging thing.

  11. #10

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    Teaching is my main gig (languages), but I'm doing a lot online now.

  12. #11

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    I teach privately. I've taught in community centers for adult education and because the classes there are a good introduction but not necessarily conducive for in depth extended learning, I've had students who've gotten a taste of possibility and have become long term students.
    Playing out is a great chance for students to get excited about learning.
    I have a two on-line students and it's only because they're on the other side of the country. I don't really like it, I don't feel the intimacy nor the nuance of the whole experience of playing, and for me it's a lot less conducive to playing together, say, situations where I'm looping a vamp to encourage different interpretations over a section of a piece, or if I'm trying to explain an aspect of phrasing that comes from the attack in the right hand... that kind of thing isn't as easy for me to hear, explain or gauge the student's reaction. I'm just an old school guy I guess.

    The best recruiting has come from word of mouth. And yes I'm in a town where there are tons of graduating students throwing the names of schools around in their Craigslist Ads and undercutting good teachers with imitations of what they've just learned. It's tough to get students by conventional ads. Some living connection has always been important both in finding and keeping students for me.

    David

  13. #12
    At one time I really hustled with it, as it was the main gig for a year or two. Converted community center class students to private like David described. I did about a thousand flyers with my kids that summer, and it was worth it at the time. That's hard core though. I put together a basic website with a testimonials etc.

    It sounds crazy, but honestly, raising my rates and firming up my payment and cancellation policies helped. Did this reluctantly at the advice of marketing dude, but it was absolutely effective.

    A solid referral source is the real thing though. I had a buddy in a music store who was convinced that I was the best teacher, and he was very good to me at a tough time, by feeding me referrals. Might be worth renting a space from a small store or dance studio in off hours just for the referral streams etc. Network with non-competitor teachers like piano etc. Trade referrals.

    Long term, in-house referrals are the best. Use testimonials from students in marketing and pay students for referrals.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 07-09-2017 at 06:45 PM.

  14. #13

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    Me, 16 students a week. Everything is word of mouth, because I'm good

    J/k, but it is word of mouth...you go slow, you make sure kids can play MUSIC.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  15. #14

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    I've taught part-time for almost 20 years now. I've found the two best ways to build up your studio:

    1. Don't let anyone get the idea in your head that you are mainly a classical guitar teacher.
    2. Be buddys with the music store owner or people who run the counter at the music store.

    Skill level on the instrument, and skill at teaching and/or credentials don't really matter. Nobody ever seems to care that I have 15+ years more experience plus a degree, that the other teachers lack.

    Unfortunately for me, I'm not good at kissing ass or making friends, and I have somehow managed to convince each music store owner that I only teach classical guitar because they heard me play 1 classical guitar piece. I try to leave my door open and play things like smoke on the water or purple haze really loudly, but that doesn't seem to have worked. I'm still the "classical guitar only teacher" in their mind. And for every person who is looking specifically for classical guitar lessons, 40 are not. I work out of 2 different music stores, one I commute an hour drive to, one is 15 minutes away. In BOTH stores, there are other guitar teachers. And also in both stores, the owner of the store favors one or more of the other guitar teachers. Now, I know you are all thinking I am probably just paranoid and imaging things, but when I started working at one of the stores, the owner told me to my face "X is my guy, I'm not going to refer anyone to you. I don't know you or trust you." Fortunately, after teaching there for 3 years (with 1 or 2 students max), he finally started referring people to me. I'm pretty sure though the other main guitar teacher there still gets priority over me.

    At the other music store, the various counter people / manager have admitted to me on three different occasions that they do in fact give preference to the other teachers. On one occasion, the admission was "Oh, you teach styles other than classical??? I'll start sending you people!" (after directing people away from me for a year). At least 99% of my students over the last 20 years have been non-classical guitar students, and I've tried to remind them of this on multiple occasions. Another part-time employee who had been working at the store for like 6 mos, told me "X is my buddy!! I love X!! I admit it, I always send people to X first!" When I explained that wasn't very fair and she shouldn't give preference to one teacher, her response was "Well, X is here every day, and you are only here like 1 day a week, so I always think of him first!" My response was, "I'm only here one day a week because I only have enough students to work here 1 day a week. If you would refer me some students, I might eventually have enough students to be here more than 1 day a week!" Anyways, you get the picture. To make things worse, this other guitar teacher also started working part time behind the counter for a period of about a year. Whaddya know! I all of a sudden stopped getting any referrals at all! One of the other teachers at one point decided it would be a good idea to have a teachers meeting, and one of the themes of the meeting was for the teachers to band together and back each other up with the store owner and management who sometimes got a bit pushy and did things like arbitrarily raised our room rental fees every few months. I thought this would be a good time to bring up the fact that some teachers were getting preferential treatment, and if we truly wanted to band together we should also agree no preferential treatment should be given and ask the management to stop doing this. I was promptly called a delusional liar, even though I explained that it was even admitted to me on 3 occasions by the people who work the front counter. From then on, I wasn't invited to any more teacher meetings by the one teacher who decided he was the leader of the other music teachers for some reason. Yes, he was one of the teachers receiving preferential treatment. He and the other guitar teacher combined had about 50+ students, and I had 5, at that point. After being at that music store for 4+ years, and sometimes going 6 months without even 1 referral.

    It's a dog eat dog world. Better to be the bigger dog with sharper teeth I guess. Anyways, my best advice to you is make some music store owner really really like you / plus try to find a music store with no other guitar teachers (yeah right). I know there are other models you can use like teaching out of your own home or doing house calls, but I think working out of a music store (in theory) will always be the easiest option because the first place people think to call when they want music lessons is the local music store.

  16. #15

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    I teach Saturdays at a local community arts center. I also teach adult education courses in the fall/spring. It's fun, and get's me out of the house.
    Check out my new book, Essential Skills for the Guitarist on Amazon.

  17. #16

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    I get hired occasionally to undo the damage unqualified teachers have gotten paid to do.

  18. #17

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    Yes, since I was 17.

    Get a school gig. The first shot I had at getting out of the music store scene, I took. Never looked back. You get all sorts of opportunities as a result. For instance, I'm guest teaching a theory and improv course at a violin school this summer. You never know what drops in your lap.

    One piece of advice, it helps to have a working knowledge on multiple instruments.

    Best wishes.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit View Post
    Glad to hear that fasttrack. Moving to PA worked out for you after all. Guess you really got to hustle by asking around and be willing to have someone say no, or worst, slam the door in your face. Good luck!
    I'm glad I got outta NY. Would have killed me, I could feel my life being shortened in that devilish place.

    It will take time before I'm established here. Closest big city is Philly, and I'm playing for tips most days w/a guy---and I'm almost 63. But you have to go out and pursue what you want, and every day we have another chance. Can't afford to stay home and whine. The house is a coffin. We got 1 gig already from playing there.

    If one picks a difficult, competitive field like music, one has to know and accept the outs of it, or get a job and do it part-time. It's human to complain ONCE in a while, but no one wants to hear a steady barrage. You'll lose all your friends doing THAT. Deal or split...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarzen View Post
    I've taught part-time for almost 20 years now. I've found the two best ways to build up your studio:

    1. Don't let anyone get the idea in your head that you are mainly a classical guitar teacher.
    2. Be buddys with the music store owner or people who run the counter at the music store.

    Skill level on the instrument, and skill at teaching and/or credentials don't really matter. Nobody ever seems to care that I have 15+ years more experience plus a degree, that the other teachers lack.

    Unfortunately for me, I'm not good at kissing ass or making friends, and I have somehow managed to convince each music store owner that I only teach classical guitar because they heard me play 1 classical guitar piece. I try to leave my door open and play things like smoke on the water or purple haze really loudly, but that doesn't seem to have worked. I'm still the "classical guitar only teacher" in their mind. And for every person who is looking specifically for classical guitar lessons, 40 are not. I work out of 2 different music stores, one I commute an hour drive to, one is 15 minutes away. In BOTH stores, there are other guitar teachers. And also in both stores, the owner of the store favors one or more of the other guitar teachers. Now, I know you are all thinking I am probably just paranoid and imaging things, but when I started working at one of the stores, the owner told me to my face "X is my guy, I'm not going to refer anyone to you. I don't know you or trust you." Fortunately, after teaching there for 3 years (with 1 or 2 students max), he finally started referring people to me. I'm pretty sure though the other main guitar teacher there still gets priority over me.

    At the other music store, the various counter people / manager have admitted to me on three different occasions that they do in fact give preference to the other teachers. On one occasion, the admission was "Oh, you teach styles other than classical??? I'll start sending you people!" (after directing people away from me for a year). At least 99% of my students over the last 20 years have been non-classical guitar students, and I've tried to remind them of this on multiple occasions. Another part-time employee who had been working at the store for like 6 mos, told me "X is my buddy!! I love X!! I admit it, I always send people to X first!" When I explained that wasn't very fair and she shouldn't give preference to one teacher, her response was "Well, X is here every day, and you are only here like 1 day a week, so I always think of him first!" My response was, "I'm only here one day a week because I only have enough students to work here 1 day a week. If you would refer me some students, I might eventually have enough students to be here more than 1 day a week!" Anyways, you get the picture. To make things worse, this other guitar teacher also started working part time behind the counter for a period of about a year. Whaddya know! I all of a sudden stopped getting any referrals at all! One of the other teachers at one point decided it would be a good idea to have a teachers meeting, and one of the themes of the meeting was for the teachers to band together and back each other up with the store owner and management who sometimes got a bit pushy and did things like arbitrarily raised our room rental fees every few months. I thought this would be a good time to bring up the fact that some teachers were getting preferential treatment, and if we truly wanted to band together we should also agree no preferential treatment should be given and ask the management to stop doing this. I was promptly called a delusional liar, even though I explained that it was even admitted to me on 3 occasions by the people who work the front counter. From then on, I wasn't invited to any more teacher meetings by the one teacher who decided he was the leader of the other music teachers for some reason. Yes, he was one of the teachers receiving preferential treatment. He and the other guitar teacher combined had about 50+ students, and I had 5, at that point. After being at that music store for 4+ years, and sometimes going 6 months without even 1 referral.

    It's a dog eat dog world. Better to be the bigger dog with sharper teeth I guess. Anyways, my best advice to you is make some music store owner really really like you / plus try to find a music store with no other guitar teachers (yeah right). I know there are other models you can use like teaching out of your own home or doing house calls, but I think working out of a music store (in theory) will always be the easiest option because the first place people think to call when they want music lessons is the local music store.
    You answered your own question: If you want to succeed at ANYTHING you can't rub people the wrong way or get on their nerves. Believe me, I learned the hard way: I was an EXPERT at the latter.

    Your post, if you want to know, comes off as bitter, unrepentant and defensive. We all have to look in the mirror and change ourselves instead of pointing fingers when we screw up.

    Einstein---a pretty smart guy---said 'The definition of insanity is doing the same (failed) thing, and expecting to get a different result'..

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    I'm just an old school guy I guess.

    ...Craigslist Ads and undercutting good teachers with imitations of what they've just learned. It's tough to get students by conventional ads.
    I'm old-school, too. Wouldn't have it any other way.

    I never got anywhere advertising on Craigslist. I think I once got 1 student, and the mother discontinued after 1 lesson. I do it once in a while b/c it's free. Use it to buy furniture and stuff. Everybody and his brother advertises there.

    Word of mouth. Word of mouth. WORD OF MOUTH...

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack View Post
    You answered your own question: If you want to succeed at ANYTHING you can't rub people the wrong way or get on their nerves. Believe me, I learned the hard way: I was an EXPERT at the latter.

    Your post, if you want to know, comes off as bitter, unrepentant and defensive. We all have to look in the mirror and change ourselves instead of pointing fingers when we screw up.
    But you assume too much. I treated everyone at the music store with respect and politeness, even while they treated me unfairly. If someone treats you unfairly, and admits to it to your face, how can you not have some bitter feelings about it? Especially when they make no effort to fix it or stop it? Why is it defensive to point it out? How do you know I did something specifically to screw up? You just assumed that. You probably also blame women for being raped? Right?

    *EDIT*

    Let me review the information I gave you, in one case the front counter person assumed I only taught classical guitar. So your answer to that is I rubbed her the wrong way and got on her nerves???? No actually, you're completely wrong, I've happened to get along great with that person, she just had some wrong assumption in her mind. And another person at the store, the manager actually, who I didn't actually mention before, KNEW I taught styles other than classical, and yet still only sent me classical students. Classical guitar students are basically almost non-existent. I can literally go a year without getting 1 call about classical guitar.

    The second story I told you was about a young part time employee who got to see teacher X on a daily basis, and talked and joked around with him all the time and developed a bond with him. Whereas, I only saw this employee about a total of 20 minutes in a period of 6 mos because I was rarely there at the store and when I was, I was working, not goofing around with them like teacher X. Teacher X spends about 8+ hours a day at the store, even when he doesn't have lessons, i.e., uses his breaks between lessons to goof around with the store employees. So your response was that's proof that I am rubbing that employee the wrong way and getting on their nerves? What the fuck??? Are you crazy? The extent of our relationship was me introducing myself to her when she started working at the store, and smiling and saying hi whenever I saw her, just like you would expect in a normal job situation in which a couple employees work in opposite sides of the building and don't have much chance to interact.
    Last edited by Guitarzen; 07-10-2017 at 04:48 PM.

  23. #22

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    No, I don't blame women for being raped---but thanks for proving my point about being defensive, not to mention nasty.

    If you don't want criticism after writing something like that sob story on the Web, especially when people are trying to help, that's on YOU.

    Do what you want, then. You're a big boy---and I'm quite done with this...

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot View Post
    My father once walked into a foreman's office and announced, "The new welder's here!" He got the job - and lasted until he had to tell the truth about his age. (He was in his eighties.)
    I grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn. My buds in HS were ALL guitar players trying to copy our rock and blues heroes. Many were talented, and 1, Bobby Lenti, was the reason I moved to PA. I recorded my CD at his home studio, and am now finishing another with Sheryl Bailey and Tim Givens (cello) there. We've been friends since '68---when I was 17, he 14. Now, on the 20th and 21st of this month we'll be 66 and 63 respectively.

    There were these brothers, Larry and Howie Hauer. Both play guitar, and Larry still gigs in Az. Howie was an unbelievable wit, just fast and furious. One time he and these other teen-aged ne'er do wells got jobs at Bayview Houses in maintenance. They wore uniforms and tried REAL hard to do no work, instead sit in the office and smoke dope.

    There was a 'corpulent' kid, Vern Levy, worked there too. Everyone goofed on him. I think he even enjoyed it, the attention. So one day he comes running and panting, all excited.

    'I got GREAT NEWS! They're gonna make me FOREMAN!!'

    Howie, in a split second:

    'FOREMAN? If you get any bigger, you'll be FIVE MEN'...
    Last edited by fasstrack; 07-11-2017 at 01:08 AM.

  25. #24

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    I teach..but I teach with a concept no one else is doing yet ..so I have no turn over..but most people do not want to learn this way.