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Teaching Guitar: The Secret To Achieving BIG Results For Guitar Students

Tom HessTom Hess, virtuoso guitarist, highly successful guitar teacher trainer and member of the metal band Rhapsody Of Fire gives his insight to help guitar instructors achieve better results in their guitar teaching businesses.

Why do some guitar instructors seem to have no problem turning mediocre guitar students into great students; while others struggle to get any significant results for their students? If you are like most guitar teachers, you probably assume that the difference is as simple as “doing” different things to help your students; however, the truth is that there is much more to it than this.

As both a guitar instructor with over twenty-five years of experience and a mentor to many other guitar teachers worldwide, I have invested a great deal of time into learning all the facts about what makes a guitar teacher highly successful in order to help my clients expand their teaching businesses and gain positive results for their students. After years of research, I have noticed that most guitar teachers have the same ‘potential’ to become highly successful. Interestingly, the difference between the guitar teachers who succeed and the ones who don’t comes from the ability to manage the various strengths and weaknesses of their personalities. The guitar teachers who have the most successful guitar teaching businesses have all become proficient at focusing on their strengths of their personalities, while other teachers constantly become frustrated as they are unable to overcome the weaknesses in their personalities that hold them back (more on this topic in a moment).

In my previous guitar teaching articles I have explained the specific ideas around what “to do” to grow your guitar teaching business (if you haven’t done so already, check out this free downloadable eBook about how to earn good money as a guitar teacher). In this article, I would like to explain to you a very crucial part of teaching guitar that can make a significant difference between you achieving great success as a guitar teacher or not. This is one aspect of the guitar teacher training that I take teachers through as I coach them so that they can get the most out of the strategies that I teach them.

Understanding The Psychology Of A Guitar Teacher

As guitar teachers, we generally have similar goals we wish to achieve. That said, everyone has their own unique set of personality traits that gives them both strengths and weaknesses while taking action in any given situation. This effectively shapes and molds the growth of their guitar teaching business. In a similar manner, the skills you gain during your development as a musician will also determine your strongest and weakest areas of musical expertise. For each of the strong points in your personality, there also exists a weak point that can potentially “cancel out” the benefits from your strengths. Until and unless you identify and correct these weak areas in your personality, your strengths will most likely become “overrun”; leaving you frustrated by keeping you from accomplishing your goal. Fact is, this is an extremely common occurrence for all kinds of guitar teachers (and most of them are not even aware of it!).

If you have not reached a high level of success already as a guitar teacher, it is crucial that you learn how to get all you can out of your strengths while minimizing the unwanted effects of the weaknesses that accompany them. No matter what, if you do not take the time to do this, you will NOT be able to achieve great success as a guitar teacher.

Every guitar teacher who has become successful fully understands this (whether consciously or not). Fortunately, it is not necessary to be a “natural” at this; anyone (including yourself) can develop the skills to be able to consistently focus on their strongest qualities.

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.

Keep in mind that the strengths I have listed on the left side of the column are certainly beneficial and this WILL help you become a better guitar teacher. However, you must also understand that these strengths can also become your weaknesses until you take the necessary steps to prevent this from occurring.

Your Strength Opposing Weakness
You are an advanced guitar player. While teaching less experienced guitarists or guitarists who have never played before, a lot of guitar teachers with highly developed playing skills have trouble relating to the mindset of their students. This is a problem because beginner students make up the majority of all guitar students you will teach. It is essential to be able to identify with beginner students who have not yet developed significant guitar playing skills.
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.
You are excited to teach guitar and get the best results for your guitar students. Having a great deal of passion for teaching guitar is certainly a necessity for any guitar teacher; however, it is very common for guitar teachers in this group to ignore the business aspects of teaching guitar. This results in helping less guitar students because they simply cannot afford the time to do so. In fact, the more income you make as a guitar teacher, the more you can use your money to increase the overall value of your guitar lessons.
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 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 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 always have a collection of new ideas that you want to work on to grow your guitar teaching business. The guitar teachers in this group often experience frustration as they begin working on new projects on a consistent basis, yet never make significant progress because they never see their projects all the way through.
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 usually get things done on your own. Being able to work on your own is important; however it is also important that you do not neglect asking for help when it is necessary. To quickly build a successful guitar teaching business, seek out the advice of someone who has already achieved your guitar teaching goals.
You have a strong and persistent work ethic. It is common for people who are persistent to also adapt the trait of being stubborn. This can hold you back from cutting out ineffective teaching methods or approaches in the way you run your guitar teaching business.
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 often think of new and innovative ideas. These types will often take steps to innovate before they fully understand the fundamental way that things work (that work just as effectively). Being an innovator is a great quality to have, but only when innovation is used without sacrificing the conventional methods that already work well.

What is the next step?

You now have a detailed understanding about how the strengths and weaknesses of your personality work together to get you to behave in a certain way. Take advantage of this knowledge now by reading the steps below and taking action to begin growing your guitar teaching business:

1. Get a strong understanding of the strong and weak points of your personality (in relation to teaching guitar) by taking this guitar teaching personality test.

2. Determine a solid plan for how you will get the greatest benefit from each of your strong qualities while reducing the effect of all corresponding negative qualities. Begin this by identifying the ways that these negative qualities come out for you as you teach guitar. Think of this in terms of the actions you take, the thoughts that enter your mind and the strong beliefs you have currently.

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. Dedicate yourself to using the information described above in order to expand your guitar teaching business.

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.

Get the most out of this article by taking this free guitar teaching personality test and downloading the eBook on how to earn good money as a guitar teacher.

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, composer and a touring musician. He plays guitar in the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He trains guitar teachers to be successful in his guitar teaching program. Go to to get more guitar teacher resources and read more guitar teaching articles.

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