If you're thinking about starting your own guitar teaching business, you have probably wondered whether you need to first gain qualifications or formal training. The short answer is that you don't need any formal qualifications to become a guitar teacher. This article will explain why as well as what you do need to succeed as a guitar teacher.

Why you don't need qualifications to teach guitar

When a student comes to you for lessons, all they care about is that you can teach well. If you can do a great job without a piece of paper (qualification), the student will be happy. Almost all students won't care if you don't have qualifications as long as you do a good job. This is the point that most guitar teachers forget when it comes to starting their guitar teaching business. Instead of taking the time to read up on teaching methods and learning what being a good teacher means, they worry about unimportant aspects such as qualifications.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether you have a qualification or not, all that matters is that you:

1. Communicate effectively,
2. Use the right teaching materials and methods, and
3. Be able to help your student achieve their goals

Although pursuing a formal qualification may help you with the three points above, you can be just as effective in developing the skills on your own.

When qualifications do matter

Only some types of students will care whether you have a qualification or not. For example if a classical guitarist wants to one day work professionally, they will likely want you to have a qualification because qualifications are important to achieve their goals. So while almost all students don't really care about qualifications, you need to make sure your target student's goals don't require them to gain a qualification.

In short: if your target student needs a qualification to achieve their goals, they will likely want you to have one too.

What you need to become a successful guitar teacher

Now that you understand why a qualification won't automatically make you a successful guitar teacher, let's have a quick look at what actually will make you a successful guitar teacher.

1. Communicate effectively

Being able to explain techniques and guitar principles effectively in a way students understand is the most important aspect of teaching guitar. The reason your student has come to you instead of teaching himself is that he wants clear and effective guidance.

The challenge with teaching guitar is that every student will need you to explain things in different ways. A ten year old child will need to you explain things very differently to a 40 year old just starting out even if they're at the same skill level. 'One-size-never-fits-all' when it comes to teaching guitar. Your success will be determined by your ability to customize each lesson to each student's individual needs. This is something a qualification can't help you with - it's a skill you need to learn on your own. Once you learn to explain topics effectively to a wide range of students, you'll find it easier and easier to teach.

2. Use the right materials and methods

Unfortunately, many new guitar teachers overlook this point. They make the mistake of buying a standard guitar method book and start from page one and gradually work towards the end. The problem with this approach is that it doesn't consider each student's individual learning needs and goals. Every student will have different needs and want to learn different things. Guitar method books are sold on the promise that they contain an effective system to teach your student guitar simply by following the pages. If that is true - then your student doesn't need you at all! Why should they pay you to simply follow the book's lessons? Teaching out of a book is risky from a business point of view as well as ineffective from a teaching point of view.

The best type of teaching materials you can use are guitar lesson plans. Guitar lesson plans are individual pages on topics you can simply print off and give to your student. Using guitar lesson plans allow you to customize your lessons to fit what the student needs to learn. They give you, the teacher, an incredible amount of flexibility. That's something a guitar method book can't do. Being able to customize your student's learning path as you see fit is what it really takes to succeed as a guitar teacher.

3. Be able to help your student achieve their goals

If a new student comes to a guitar teacher with the goal of being able to write their own songs and four years later they haven't achieved that goal - the teacher has failed. The teacher has failed even though they have managed to keep the student for four years and counting. Many teachers forget this simple point as they get caught up in the pace of lessons. Taking the time to understand what your student's goals are and creating a plan to achieve those goals is crucial to your long term success as a guitar teacher. What happens when your student finally achieves their dream goals with your help? They tell other people about it.

If you want to build your reputation as an effective guitar teacher, help your students achieve their goals. Word will spread around and people will take notice. It's easy to forget this point but when you keep it in your mind you will eventually see results.

Key points to remember

If you skimmed through this article, here's a quick summary of the main lessons to remember:

  • Qualifications may help you as a teacher, but they aren't required for success
  • Only a small portion of students will care about qualifications
  • Communication skills are far more important than qualifications
  • The lesson materials and teaching methods you use will determine your effectiveness as a guitar teacher
  • You should measure your success as a guitar teacher by achieving your student's goals

So if you're trying to decide whether you should study towards a formal qualification or not, if the purpose of the qualification is to help you succeed as a guitar teacher you now know it's not required in almost all cases. What is required for every guitar teacher is to learn how to communicate effectively, use the right lesson materials and teaching methods and to be able to work towards and achieve your student's goals.

How to get started right now

Getting started as a guitar teacher can be easy once you have the right tools and plans in place. Our 12 week Starting a Guitar Teaching Business Course gives you everything you need to start a successful guitar teaching business.

Here's a quick checklist of resources available to get you started as a guitar teacher:

1. Read through our teaching guides to learn some fundamental teaching techniques
2. Read through our business guides to find out how to attract some students
3. Start using our wide range of guitar lesson plans
4. Use the 'Teacher's Guide' included with every guitar lesson plan to help you plan out each lesson and give it effectively
5. Work through our 12 week Business Fundamentals course to set up your guitar teaching business properly

If you want to succeed as a guitar teacher and have access to a wealth of information and teaching materials, become a Live and Teach Guitar Member here.