Lyle is a self-employed Montreal guitar teacher, performer, web-designer and blogger. For the past twenty years, he has adopted the tenets of voluntary simplicity to live a thrift shop life and has recently begun blogging with these concepts in mind at The Joy of Simple.
As a self employed guitar player, a huge chunk of my income comes from giving private guitar lessons to both young and old alike. It is a “job” that I thoroughly enjoy and, depending on the amount of students one has, it can be quite lucrative as a primary income earner.
That being said, teaching guitar, or any other musical instrument, can also be an enjoyable and cool side hustle that can put a decent wad of cash in your wallet every week, depending on how many students you are willing to teach and how much you charge.
Let’s dig a little further shall we…
What You Need:
The first obvious condition of having a successful music teaching side hustle is that you need to play the instrument you will be teaching, very well. Whether you are a guitar player, bass player, piano player, drummer, singer, bassoon player or any other instrument you can think of, if you can’t play it at a decent technical level, then maybe teaching music as a side hustle is not for you.
Now, you don’t need to be a virtuoso on your instrument of choice, or play in one or more bands like I do, but you do need to be able to teach at least the rudiments of your instrument with confidence and effectiveness. If you CAN play your instrument well however, that’s half the battle and you’re almost there.
Good morning! Today I am very pleased to welcome Lyle who will share how he makes money teaching guitar. Having taught the piano for a few years, I know what you need most: nerves of steal! Some students are just not… gifted… But I will let Lyle tell you more about it. Let me know if you would like to guest post and share how you make money your way!
The other half of the battle is being able to actually teach what your potential student’s will possibly be looking to learn. In my experience, and especially in the popular music arena of guitar, the majority of my students are not interested in learning how to read music or any of the usual theoretical characteristics of music making. Their principal concern – generally speaking – is to learn songs that they like, so you’ll need to be proficient at being able to learn songs relatively quickly and then figure out a way of teaching those songs to your students. There’s obviously an art to doing this which is beyond the scope of this article, but is definitely something to think about.
One of the more simpler ways of teaching a new student, especially one who has never played an instrument before, is to provide them with a good instructional book, which you should already own and that they will need to buy. For your part, this a small investment of twelve bucks or so and will help you provide a systematic approach, that if you don’t already have in place, will help save you a lot of time and energy at the beginning until you find your groove! Having a lot of patience, a malleable ego and an ability to comfortably interact with both young and old alike is also key to not only being a good teacher, but also in keeping your students coming back week after week. Oh…and a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either!
You’ll also need a committed teaching space in your home. This could be as simple as two chairs and a music stand in an uncluttered area, or a dedicated room somewhere in your home. The choice is yours, but it should look somewhat professional. Of course, you can always teach at your students’ home if you have an issue with “strangers” showing up at your pad. In fact, you may find that parents, especially those with young children, would prefer that you teach their children in their own homes for comfort, familiarity and safety concerns. This can also work in your favor cash-wise because you can charge a little more for the “inconvenience” of having to travel to their home. I always tack on an extra five or ten dollars per lesson, depending on how far I need to travel and how much time it takes me to do so on public transit.
How Much Can You Make:
How much side hustle dollars you can make will be dependent on how many students you commit to and how much you charge them per lesson – or more likely – how much you charge their parents!
Most lessons will either be an hour or half an hour and, depending on your musical aptitude/experience, you can charge anywhere from fifteen dollars for a half hour up to fifty dollars for an hour for each private student. So, if you charged thirty-five dollars an hour and had only five students a week, you could potentially make one hundred and seventy-five dollars a week or seven hundred dollars a month, which could definitely come in handy when paying off your debt or saving for a family vacation.
Personally, I charge twenty-five dollars for a half hour lesson and forty dollars for an hour lesson. And while that may seem like a lot of money for a one hour music lesson, it is actually quite competitively matched with both higher end teachers and private music schools in my area who charge fifty-five dollars or more for an hour’s lesson.
One other consideration regarding payment is whether you will charge your student per lesson or in a batch of four weeks up front at the beginning or end of each month. Personally, I charge per lesson as I like having money in my pocket after the lesson. However, if you like the idea of having a bunch of cash up front, then opt for batch payments. Either way though, you’re getting PAID so the potential to make some decent side hustle money is definitely there no matter how you slice it 🙂
Before you are able to make any money however, you first need students to charge!
If you are just starting out as a teacher, chances are you won’t have any word-of-mouth referrals to utilize. This is when you should turn to your personal social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linked-In or any other social media you are connected to. Put the word out amongst your friends and family that you are starting to teach music on the side and that you are taking on new students. Also, if your community or municipality has a Facebook page, join it and put the word out on that page as well.
Craigslist and similar sites are also a great way to get the word out. Make sure though that you don’t put down too much personal info in your ad though. Once a potential student contacts you, that’s when you can give out your phone number, email address and such if need be, not before.
You might also want to consider creating a free small website or blog solely to promote your music teaching services. This would feature your rates, teaching experience, testimonials (if any), contact info, lesson methodology and if possible, a video clip or two of your playing ability. An image of your teaching area along with a photo of yourself, preferably with your instrument in hand should accompany your About Me page. This helps interested visitors get a sense of who you are and makes contacting you a little more comfortable.
Of course, you could also just go old-school and plaster a bunch of printed posters around your neighborhood in hopes of attracting new students. I do this from time to time and it I’ve actually gotten quite a few students over the years with this tried-and-true promotional method.
The only downside that I have experienced , apart from the unpaid time spent traveling to a lesson outside of one’s home, is the potentially high turnover rate of students that you may experience. For whatever reason, some kids and/or adults think learning an instrument is a lot easier than it actually is. Sadly, when they realize how much work they need to put in, on an almost daily basis, they end up letting it go. So you may end up having the same student for years, while others may come and go almost weekly.
This is the nature of the business though and you just accept it and move on to the next student. However, if you are a decent teacher and focus on the wants of the student, rather than on what you THINK they SHOULD be learning, you should be able to keep new students for a at least a few months at a time…hopefully. Like anything, the more experience you acquire teaching, the more you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t.
If you can play an instrument relatively well, there’s the possibility to make some decent money with nothing more than your instrument and god-given talent. I’ve been teaching guitar full time for the past six years or so and I have found it to be rewarding financially as well as emotionally! There’s nothing like teaching someone how to play their favorite song! Seeing the light in their eyes and the smile on their face as they rip through “Crazy Train” or “Sweet Child Of Mine” for the first time, is honestly, priceless. And the fact that I actually get paid for doing this…well that’s priceless too! 🙂
So, if you have a day job that is your bread and butter, but you would like a fun way to make a few bucks on the side, consider teaching some lucky guy or gal how to play their favorite instrument. You just may find that you like it so much so that it becomes your primary income source.
Take care and all the best.