One of the driving principles behind Start Teaching Guitar is that we can all learn from each other. This “Guitar Teacher Interview” series is a chance for us to hear from other guitar teachers around the world and hopefully get some ideas for our own teaching businesses.
Today we have an interview with Dave Inkster, a full-time guitar teacher from Scotland. Dave does something unique in his business that I haven’t seen much of in the US…he actually travels to where his students are and gives lessons in their homes. You can get more info about Dave and his teaching business by checking out his website at gracenotesguitar.com.
Guitar Teacher Interview
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What’s your background?
I’m from Scotland, have played guitar for 22 years, and have been teaching for five years.
Tell us about your guitar teaching business. Are you doing it part-time or full-time? How many students are you currently teaching?
I went full-time a couple of years ago, and supplement teaching income with playing in a busy function band. I’m a lefty, teach on the road at students houses, and currently teach 38 students a week.
I teach one to one, and also offer acoustic electric and bass lessons (but 90% of my work is electric guitar).
I use the Rockschool grade system (popular in the UK) but also have a laid back approach, encouraging learning to play through riffs and songs, and encouraging students to choose songs to learn. I presently don’t do group lessons, but have done Skype lessons in the past. I’m currently looking into setting up a jam/band session for intermediate-level older teens and adults.
What’s been the biggest key to success in your teaching business so far?
Being cheerful, easy to get on with, patient and honest. Putting the needs of the student before my expectations or ideals about how guitar “should” be learned. Making a distinction between more serious learners and hobby learners. And being organized with printed tabs, worksheets, etc.
What’s been your most effective way of attracting new students?
Word of mouth.
What’s been your most effective way of keeping your existing students from quitting?
Not sure. My retention rate is high, though. I think I have a knack of finding the right song at the right time when someone may be losing interest. (I’m guessing here!!)
Also, I don’t make people feel bad for not doing enough practice, but encourage them to practice without judging them.
What helps to keep you motivated to continue when things don’t seem to be going as well as you would like?
Realizing that I can be too hard on myself, when often the things that don’t go well are with students who don’t put much into learning. Also my own desire to improve as a tutor and player are important to me, and that motivates me – the opportunity to learn something and get better.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to get started teaching guitar lessons for the first time?
Just do it and don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to cultivate an attitude of enjoying time spent teaching – seeing it as fun rather than work. Don’t “over teach” and give students too much (but you learn not to do that as you go along).
Be honest and real with people. (I’m not keen on people who try to pass themselves off as “experts”, because they always take the high ground and there’s really no need – we’re all students in the end of the day!)
Can you share one tip that has worked for you to help your students get better results on the guitar?
Get them to practice slowly!! Rockschool grades have helped as students really need to put the work in to pass.
Well, that’s it for today’s Guitar Teacher Interview. If you’d like to be considered for a future interview, enter your name and email address below to join the Start Teaching Guitar community. I send out occasional interview requests to this mailing list.
If you have any questions, comments or feedback please leave a reply below!