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 Trace Follett, a guitar teacher from Kansas City in the USA. Trace has been teaching for over 10 years…he gives lessons full-time at a local music store and also does recording and live performing. Check out spencersmusicroom.com for more info about Trace.
Guitar Teacher Interview
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What’s your background?
My name is Trace, I live in Kansas City, MO and I teach guitar full-time at a great music store called Spencer’s Music Room. I started playing at around age nine and started teaching at around age eighteen. Ive studied under amazing musicians here in town such as Vince Kirk, Jay Eudaly, and Bill Crain. Ive played pretty much every venue KC has and have been on numerous tours. I have recorded for Fox News, and played in such events with the likes of Papa Roach, Orianthi, Lisa Loeb, Joe Satriani, and more.
Tell us about your guitar teaching business. Are you doing it part-time or full-time? How many students are you currently teaching?
I’ve been teaching for about a decade. I have anywhere between 30 to 40 students per week. All of my students are a joy to work with and they definitely keep me on my toes. I really enjoy watching and hearing them progress into great musicians. Its private one-on-one lessons, so the sessions are customized to fit the students needs.
What’s been the biggest key to success in your teaching business so far?
Definitely word of mouth and referrals. Not sticking to one method works well, also. Being able to relate the material to each individual student and having them do as much as possible and not just show them and hope they understand.
What’s been your most effective way of attracting new students?
Flyers and websites are pretty good and it doesnt hurt to use them but the best way is definitely word of mouth. I let all my students know that most of my business comes from referrals and usually they love the chance to help out by telling their friends or family.
What’s been your most effective way of keeping your existing students from quitting?
Patience. Being able to read different people and adapt to what teaching style suits them best. Keeping a good attitude and just being passionate about playing and teaching music. The more passionate the teacher is, the more the student wants to stick around and keep playing.
What helps to keep you motivated to continue when things don’t seem to be going as well as you would like?
Just the fact that my students still love playing the guitar and watching them get excited when they get something thats been pretty tough. Plus, the best thing about teaching is learning. Im thrilled when students bring something in that will challenge me. The guitar is an ongoing process. You never stop learning about it and thats the best part. Finally, the fact that I get to play guitar for a living. Working on my passion and being able to help others achieve their goals as musicians is a big motivator.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to get started teaching guitar lessons for the first time?
Start out small. Realize that like any other starting business, you need to spend money to make money. Learn as much marketing as you can. Start teaching friends and friends of friends to see how that works first. Know what you can and can’t do. Get to know as many styles of music as you can, but never pretend to be a master of all styles. Every good teacher, while being able to teach many styles, has their own specialty. Finally, you must have a huge passion for not only music and guitar, but for teaching as well.
Can you share one tip that has worked for you to help your students get better results on the guitar?
Just putting myself in their shoes to see where they are coming from and find out where the best trouble spots are, and having them apply what we are working on rather than just playing it for them.
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!