A Guide To Teaching Guitar Workshops

Suzette Haden Elgin provides step-by-step instructions on how to teach a guitar workshop and make money.

| September/October 1971

If you're a passably-fair guitar player looking for a way to make some extra bread teaching guitar, look no further . . . because I'm going to tell you exactly how I use my guitar to clear better than $40 almost anytime I feel like conducting a pleasant, four-hour-long workshop.

That's right. Even if you're just an average or slightly-better guitar player, you can still earn $10 an hour teaching others to play the instrument. There's no need for you to be an expert in the classical, flamenco, jazz, rock or any other style, either. Actually, with my experience as a guide, you'll need only two qualifications: you should play a competent—not superb, just competent—elementary folk guitar, and  you should be able to carry a tune, and do it LOUD. The second requirement, in my opinion, is more important than the first.

What you'll do to earn your spare time income is provide guitar workshops for people interested in learning to play the instrument with just that minimum amount of skill that will allow them to amuse themselves and—perhaps—the small groups that they deal with on a close basis. Your students will include folks such as elementary teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, camp counselors and just plain people who want to have their families sing along with THEM. These folks have little interest in becoming expert instrumentalists and even less time to devote to such pursuits. They just want to play the guitar "a little".

Don't try to reach these potential students with an ad in the paper. In the first place, such an advertisement will cost more than it's worth and—in the second—it's sure to pull in lots of people who don't really want what you intend to provide. Word of mouth advertising and home-made posters put up in laundromats, on school bulletin boards, in churches and grocery stores—are much better methods of spreading the word about your first class. After that, if my experience is any indication, your problem will be the length of your waiting list rather than any lack of students.

The equipment entrance requirements for your workshop should be:

  • A guitar
  • A capo (the capo is super important, as you'll see later)
  • Something to write on
  • Something to write with

That's all. Nothing else.

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