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Scoring a Teaching Gig

Very few classical guitarists can make a living without teaching at least a little bit. In fact, I can only think of two guitarists off the top of my head who don’t teach: John Williams and David Russell. For us mere mortals, that means that teaching is going to be a big part of our income. If you’ve been playing a while and are reasonably good at the guitar, exploring the teaching world is a great way to make some money playing your guitar. At the beginning of a teaching career, you don’t have the luxury of “choosing” students; you’ll probably have to teach styles other than classical.

I lucked out getting my first teaching gig: a director of guitar at a small studio heard me play in a masterclass and asked me if I’d like to teach. Most times it doesn’t happen like that. However, working at a busy music store is a great way to get some students very quickly. Step one is getting your resume in order. Many places will want some experience beyond just performing. Expect to have to play for someone or teach a mock lesson. In reality, there’s tons of music stores, and you won’t get a gig in one by avoiding asking. Just go in and ask to speak to the lesson administrator. Come prepared with a resume and hand it to them then and there. If you can, try to set up an interview time right away and see what happens. It can also help if you have a syllabus and sample course outlined lined up to show the lesson administrator.

A Note on Experience

It’s really hard to get some experience teaching with out actually working someplace or marketing yourself. However the web offers some ways to get students pretty quickly. Check out the Facebook marketplace or Craigslist and post ads for yourself. You may not be able to charge a ton for these first lessons, but the goal is to get some experience.

Teaching is Hard?

Teaching is hard. It’s tiring and taxing. Teaching is also incredible because of those students who really get into the instrument and run with it. Having an excited student is a great motivator. But teaching is hard. You’ll have to learn thousands of pieces (or songs if you teach pop/rock) really quickly to teach to students, and in order to explain a concept it has to be crystal clear in your own mind. That said, it gets easier. Teaching makes you a better player because you learn to learn music quickly; it forces you to clarify the most basic technical concepts in your mind and be able to replicate them for each and every student.

Exploring the teaching world is something that every guitarist who has been at it a while should do. It’s a great way to make a living doing the coolest job in the world.

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