The music education industry is rapidly changing. Online learning tools like YouTube are reshaping the industry. In the coming years, independent guitar instructors unable to adapt to these changes will be out of business while those teachers savvy enough to adapt to the changing landscape will win big!
In this article, I’ll overview the greatest challenges facing independent guitar instructors. In part two, I’ll present some simple strategies designed to help independent guitar instructors succeed as the music education industry changes.
1. Guitar Sales Are Plummeting
Over the last decade, sales have declined from 1.5 million to 1 million guitars sold. The two largest guitar manufactures (Gibson and Fender) are losing money, and Guitar Center is 1.6-billion dollars in debt.
If the guitar manufacturing industry fails to connect with today’s kids, guitar instructors will have an ever decreasing pool of students of whom to teach. A smaller market leads to greater competition amongst guitar instructors for the few students available.
2. Free Online Guitar Lessons
In the past, free guitar lessons on YouTube weren’t well-organized. Many of the guitar lessons available were a hodgepodge of quality and content. However, that is changing. YouTube guitar instructors are increasingly better organized, their content is becoming more pedagogical, and the quality of their videos is ever more professional.
3. Guitar Lessons are Competing with Many Other Activities
As an industry, our biggest competition isn’t YouTube, it’s soccer, baseball, and a dozen other after-school activities competing for time, energy, and attention. Afterall, there’s just so many hours in a day.
4. Too Much Focus on the Dirt and Not Enough Emphasis on the Clouds
Many guitar instructors invest far too much of their time, energy, and focus on the dirt and not enough on the clouds. According to entrepreneur and best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk, “The clouds—the high-end philosophy of what you believe—and the dirt—the low-down subject matter expertise that allows you to execute against it.”
When it comes to teaching the guitar, the clouds are why we do what we do. In other words, the clouds are our mission. The dirt is the natural minor scale in open position or the harmonized major scale. In other words, the dirt is our expertise.
A New Hope Arises
Later this week, I’ll present three strategies to help your teaching studio succeed as the music education industry changes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Parham is the founder of the Rock Dojo in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches hundreds of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years-old to play, perform, and compose their own original music on the guitar in after-school group guitar lessons. He’s also the author of three guitar method books including Guitar for Kids: Rock Dojo The Complete Belt System.