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Rob Hampton from A Guitar Teacher’s Lesson Notebook posted some great advice on how to make a living teaching guitar. Surprisingly most of his advice focuses on using the internet.

Posted on - October 9, 2006 [at] 11:49 am by Brad
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9 Comments on this post

jb on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
October 10, 2006 at 10:49 pm

I’d be willing to make a small wager that he gets more students from word of mouth than from people cruising his web site.

I mean, you never know, but based on experience teaching another stringed instrument, that’s where it all came from. You teach somebody, their mother tells another mother, and you have another student. You play a gig– probably a wedding, not a rock show, and someone comes up to you and asks if you teach, and you give them your card. You get to know the people at the music store, they know you can play, and they give out your name– or you have a more formal relationship with them as the guy who gives lessons for the store.

Having taught and known quite a few people making their living teaching instrumental music, I’m just not so convinced that the Internet has much to do with making a living at it.

In my experience it has to do with taking every student you can (and he hints at that by saying he doesn’t mind teaching people who don’t practice), and making sure there are a) ample opportunities for people to hear you play and b) a phone number and email address that you answer promptly.

I’m sorry to crush your dream, Brad.

Dylan on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
October 11, 2006 at 6:59 am

I want to be a proffessional riff maker when I grow up. Just loops for Acid Pro and Garage Band, or whatever else there is. Teaching guitar or bass might be pretty cool though.

Rob on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
October 14, 2006 at 1:32 pm

Hey guys,

JB, you make a good point–you can get a lot of referrals through word of mouth, and you advertise whenever you perform. I find referrals really valuable. When you get a student through a referral, they’re already really excited about you, so they tend to be really consistent clients (i.e. they don’t cancel lessons very often).

But I still get most of my students through the web. Before I raised my rates (they’re higher now than what I would pay for lessons), I got emails or calls almost every day from people interested in lessons. That’s tapered off now, but for every referral I get, I still get about four people who found my through my website.

Even though the website brings me a lot of clients, it’s not like I have more interest than I need. While I have a long waiting list for afternoon and evening lesson times, it’s still sometimes hard to fill morning or mid-day slots. So from a business perspective, it’s important to have a big pool of people interested in lessons. If the only opening in your schedule is a slot at 10am on Thursday, maybe one in 10 people will be able to fill that slot.

Also, I’ve expanded to teaching group lessons now, and those classes can be challenging to fill. This past month I taught a jam workshop and only filled 4 of the 6 slots. That means less money for the same amount of work.

So, what I’ve learned from all this is that a website can get you lots of interest in lessons, and you need lots of interest if you’re going to try to teach full-time and still have evenings and weekends open for having some semblance of a social life.

jackson on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
November 2, 2006 at 12:24 am


want to have no money in retirement? teach guitar. want to have to make quarterly income tax payments (which you will probably screw up) for the pennies that you get? teach guitar. want to work weekends, saturday morning, sunday afternoon…every afternoon? you got it. want to not work in august? want to not have health benefits?

it’s not a great job. better to do something that will bring in a little more money and then do the music with that….

of course, if you still can’t be dissuaded…by all means. go for it.

and dylan. a professional riff maker?

Rob on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
November 9, 2006 at 12:30 pm

Jackson, it sounds like you’re describing my former job, as a high-school English teacher! Of course I did get benifits and thaxes were differetent, but I worked a lot harder than I do now, with a lot more stress.

At least when you’re self-employed, you have much more control over how much money you make and what hours you keep. I used to work 60 hours a week.

Now I just teach Monday through Friday, from about 10am to 7pm. Two days a week I teach ’til about 8pm, but I don’t mind.

As far as income goes, I’ve found that most guitar teachers aren’t doing much to bring in more income. If they did what any other small business owner would do to market themselves–by creating a logo, a web presence, some business cards, a compelling teaching philosophy–they could do a lot better. I feel like the sky’s the limit with my business.

Of course, it helps to live in a city. Living in Seattle means there are plenty of wealthy families who want me to teach their kids.


RBJ on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
March 4, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Ever think about incorporating a guitar teaching business to save on those taxes???? Lots of legal ways to avoid the IRS.

cr on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
January 17, 2011 at 2:19 am


cr on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
January 17, 2011 at 2:39 am

The guy who invents the wheel make a buck only once. The guy who builds the wheel make only a quarter. The guy who sells a wheel he bought for a buck makes a dime. They guy who drives traffic to all the major wheel sellers make a nickel for every referral…ten thousand times a day!

That’s $0.05x10K=$500/day

Which guy do you want to be?

Guitar lessons are for suckers.

Yeah, you might get that 75 Camaro you always wanted if you live in your mom’s basement.

But it will smoke and clack down the road unlike the one you can get from Barrett Jackson for $50K that will draw crowds around it in the grocery store parking lot.

This isn’t 1969 man. Make some videos, get a HD webcam and a fast connection and have millions of people click on them. Do some private or group high speed webcasting lessons and stop driving around waiting to get $30 so you can eat and gas up your 91 Civic.

I’ll see you at the finish line and see how you done. Heh. Work smarter not harder.

David Hart on How to Make a Living Teaching Guitar
March 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm

The guy who says that you can’t make money teaching guitar makes a good point but misses an important fact which I will explain. Guitar teachers who sell themselves by the hour have created generally a low paying job. When you calculate holidays, expenses, unpaid lessons and time required outside teaching hours (admin) your pay rate is about equal to McDonalds or worse. The solution is group teaching. When you learn to teach in groups making $100,000 per year can be done teaching 3 days a week in less than 20 hours. To teach groups effectively requires a system and training. Most guitar teachers who attempt group teaching either have no system or they can’t find enough students. In terms of finding students you will get many more referral students through group teaching than private. I enrolled over 3000 students in just 2 years and it was largely through the viral effect of group teaching. My schools were called G4 Guitar and we have now expanded to a world wide franchise if you interested. If not I hope this post has been helpful.

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