Monday, April 1, 2013

Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? (part II)

     If you are going to be a successful teacher then I cannot stress enough the importance of being organized.  This means keeping a schedule of all the students and their lesson times.  You also need to keep payment records.  Some of your students will want to pay in advance. Some will pay per session, keeping records of all of this is not only a great idea it will protect your integrity. You will need to keep accounts.  When payday arrives you should only take out what was earned for the week, again this is for your protection.

     Lets talk about where you are going to teach.  Are you teaching out of your home? A private studio? Perhaps out of a music store?  All of the above mentioned have their pros and cons, for instance a music store will probably take a small percentage of what your make, the upside to this is that they will provide you will students.  If you teach out of your home then you get to keep all the money, but you will have to find the students yourself.

As far as your lesson room it should look neat and organized.  All a lesson room needs to have are the following items:

  • a couple of guitar stands
  • a music stand(preferably a sturdy one)
  • an amp that has 2 inputs
  • a guitar tuner(always check your tuning with your students)
  • some sort of filing cabinet to keep all your materials in.
  • couple of comfortable chairs
  • a boombox, mp3 player and or CD player
  • perhaps an inspiration poster or two


Remember you are a professional so if you teach out to your home don't teach out of your bedroom.  I shouldn't have to explain this one.


    As a teacher I asked myself the question, "how would I want to be taught?"  Ive had numerous teachers that spent the entire lesson time writing out the lesson for me.  I never cared for that approach.  Personally, I would rather give the student a handout that has already been prepared and spend the lesson time talking about how to play it.  This is why I like to use a filing cabinet.  My filing cabinet is filled with preplanned lessons for when I teach.  You should have sections made out on all the topics that you teach,  also a folder with blank sheet music and blank tab paper always helps too.  You never know when you might have to transcribe something for a student.

    This brings me to tell you that while its not necessary to be able to transcribe, it is a skill that you as a teacher/musician should acquire.  Ideally you want to have good enough ears to be able to figure out a song or a part of a song within a thirty minute time span.  Speaking of time, be prepared for students that will not show up or that cancel at the last minute.  Most of the time I just excuse it because I want to retain the client.  however it doesn't hurt to have out some type of policy for this.  I would always allow my students one cancellation per month just due to the fact that sometimes life gets in the way.

    Get to know your students, this is a no brainer. Find out what type of music they like and what there goals are as a student.  Remember not all of your students want to learn to be musicians.  Most of them just want to learn a few basic concepts.   Cater to the individual, one size does not fit all.

Max Neal