Since man-kind invented and evolved the guitar, students of the instrument have long since taught others and passed on their hard earned knowledge – some for fun and some as a job.
The truth is that valuable and inspiring teachers have been sought after and talented guitarists have often tried and failed at turning their guitar playing skill into a career of teaching guitar. Making a living from playing the guitar is tough, very tough, so many turn to teaching the instrument, but how hard is it?
How to teach guitar
Rob Hampton has created a guide entitled `Rob`s Totally Awesome Guitar Teaching Handbook` that guides us through the baby steps all the way to becoming one of those inspiring and sought after guitar teachers, whist showing you how to make some real hard earned `dough` from this crazy instrument.
But is it any good? At $29.99 you would certainly hope so.
The eBook is broken down into 3 chapters. They are titled `To Teach Or Not To Teach`, `Makin` Money` and `Teaching 101`, The first chapter Rob acts almost like your high school career counsellor (only without the dodgy beard), and helps you decide if guitar teaching is for you.
If you haven`t yet taken the amazing and crazy path of turning your life upside down to earn money teaching this wonderful instrument, then this chapter will give you some guidance and plenty of food for thought.
In my opinion, many guitar teachers tend to fall into one of two camps. You have the ones (such as me) who dive in head first and do all the meticulous planning (what planning?) and preparations later, and the ones who never seem to get started.
You know the types, the ones who procrastinate for a longer period than it takes Lynyrd Skynyrd to finish the Free Bird guitar solo.
Guitar Teaching – Is it for you?
Whichever camp you fall into, Rob outlines plenty of nuggets of information, asking you in detail and to be completely honest with yourself, is guitar teaching really for you?
You may find that a pointless question and indeed I thought maybe this was a bit of filler, but if I`m honest it really got me thinking about that cloudy day many years when I got made redundant from an ultra-boring snooze-fest of a job when I made my decision.
“Well, I want to buy the book so of course it is for me”, you may say.
Well, even if you spend $29.99 on the book it is still a very important question to ask yourself. I found once I started teaching guitar full time, there was really no turning back.
A useful question and one I spent hours thinking over was “Am I a good enough guitarist?” Rob devotes a section to this and if you have these same self doubts, (believe me everybody does) then you will find some joy from that chapter.
You may not be great, but he explains his story which is very motivating and encouraging.
You may even absolutely love playing guitar with all your heart and may be so good you get rapturous applause if you even brush past a `57 Stratocaster, but believe me, just `cause you can play, doesn`t mean you will love teaching.
Rob asks the very apt question:
“Are you a good enough teacher?”
This is generally a much better question to ask yourself. Most budding guitar teachers never even really consider this. They only really worry about their playing skills, where as this is a more important question to be asking yourself.
This chapter is absolute gold dust and really helps you view teaching guitar through a lens of someone who has been there and done it.
I used to wander what kind of living could be made from teaching guitar. Well, these days I know and the next chapter is all about this very curious question. Rob rather amusingly describes how people would react to him when he told them his choice of profession. To put it simply, yes you can and might well make a fantastic living off being a self-employed guitar teacher.
Uber popular musicians such as Ed Sheeran ensure that the guitar will be a hugely popular instrument for the long term. Cheers Ed!
Throughout the book there are valuable and specific points to consider such as teaching from home or in a studio, making house calls, how many hours per day to spend on teaching, why you should have a student’s policy – Rob even provides you with a student policy, which believe me this one thing alone would of saved me a lot of frustration.
I found that before I had a student policy I would get the odd student cancelling last minute and generally wasting mine and their time. As soon as a policy was implemented, boom, no more messing about. They were happier and I was happier.
Finding ideal students can be tricky. I found this out the hard way. For me at first, I dreamt about teaching intermediate and advanced players all the cool solos, arpeggios, and advanced chords I had in my repertoire, and then jamming the hell out of them with the student.
Uh, no, it didn`t quite happen like. Yes, I have some very cool jam sessions with some very talented and hard working guitarists.
Most of my time however, is spent teaching beginners – and going over the many basics this instruments has to offer, the fine technical details, and encouraging and building students confidence.
Yes, that may not sound quite like the dream job now, but it is a trillion times better than my snore-fest of a job all those years ago, and for the last few years it pays well too.
Some of the techniques for attracting new students that Rob discusses never really worked for me or I never really needed to try such as using flyers. Using a custom made very high ranking website was enough, but different cities at different times require different ideas. It really depends on how prevalent your area is and how much competition you have.
Don`t be put off by lots of competition though, as long as you are dedicated and use the book as your road map, you will attract new students and then the snowball effect will take place.
The last chapter, Teaching 101 is the one I learned most from as when I read the book I had taught for countless years so the other stuff was pretty much sorted for me.
One thing any good teacher will tell you is that you will “never ever stop learning” yourself. That`s why this chapter was so useful.
Rob discusses at length a variety of teaching principles such as `Student Centered vs Teacher Centered learning which although a bit heavy on the theory for most is important to understand.
A lot of guitar teachers will happily soak up any information on improving themselves as a guitarist, but shy away from spending time learning about teaching. Ironic or what!
If you are one of these types, this last chapter will help you out no end and inspire you to become a better and more thoughtful teacher.
From a more practical point of view Rob discusses his Daily Routine which is where he breaks down each hourly lesson and shows you exactly what happens. After reading this section, I even adapted my own routine slightly with my own students taking on board a few of Rob`s points.
This hasn`t made for dramatic results or anything, but slightly improves the flow of each lesson which can only be a good thing for each student.
Of all the three chapters, the last one will be valuable no matter how long you have taught the guitar for especially if you are a `let`s wing it` type teacher.
The first chapter is really for anyone who hasn`t taught or has only done a little, the 2nd chapter is for anyone teaching and striving to start making some real money doing so, and the last chapter is for every guitar teacher on the planet.
The books layout is fantastic and really well spaced out and formatted. It`s even got a particularly cool front cover. Some of the other books I`ve read on how to teach guitar are a bit dated. The great thing about this is that it is very current shown when Rob highlights how powerful the internet is.
Throughout the book Rob discusses at length some really important factors such as branding, logos, websites, marketing, how much you should charge and all the other essential factors involved in running a business of this kind.
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider, and it can make your head hurt if you have never done anything like this before, but you can see why Rob is a successful guitar teacher from reading his book.
He is thorough, in-depth without waffling on, and has a fun dedicated attitude. I`ve read a few guitar teaching books and this is the best. If you take nothing else from the book other than Rob`s attitude then it will still be worthwhile.
If you are looking for a guitar teaching job, want to start your own business or ever ask `How do I teach guitar?` then check this book out.
Overall, yes `Rob`s Totally Awesome Guitar Teaching Handbook` is highly recommended, very current and worth every penny.
If you want to find out more or buy the eBook, click here.