Internet Explorer doesn’t work well with our website. We recommend using a different browser like Google Chrome.

What does it take to teach guitar online? Can anyone do it? 

Whether you’re a professional musician or guitar instructor looking for new ways to make a living doing what you love, online courses can help you get there.

Not only can teaching online help you earn more income right from your home, it frees up more time in your life to pursue your passion for playing guitar or creating new music.

That’s the dream after all, isn’t it? 

Maybe you’re on your way to becoming the next Jimi Hendrix, but want to earn an extra income by teaching your craft. Or maybe you’re a seasoned guitar instructor with a full student schedule, but need a way to serve more students and expand your teaching business.

Either way, this guide will walk through the advantages of teaching guitar online, what an online guitar school looks like in action, and how to get started.

Why you should teach guitar online

Teaching guitar online gives you the flexibility to teach where, when and how you choose. On top of that, the number of students you can serve is unlimited – as long as you’ve got an internet connection!

Can you imagine waking up and teaching students all over the world from the comfort of your own home? Or having online lessons delivered to hundreds of students on autopilot, freeing up time for you to develop new teaching materials, hone your craft, or spend time with family?

This is the reality for many guitarists who are using Thinkific to teach online.

“Thinkific allows me to share what I would teach in a one-on-one lesson to a thousand people. I‘m on a mission to help everyone who doesn’t believe in themselves get the skills they need to improve.”

– James Testani, Founder of online guitar school GoodGuitarist

Having this type of leverage can make the difference between merely surviving, and thriving as a full-time musician. 

Because while activities like selling backing tracks, hunting for the next gig, and cramming your schedule with music lessons can help make ends meet, they don’t necessarily translate into a scalable business.

On the other hand, online courses open up a whole new world of possibilities to make a living doing what you love. 

Both seasoned guitar teachers and those starting out can leverage the online marketplace to build a career at a scale that’s not possible offline.

– Jay West, Guitar teacher and founder of GigHustlers

Here are just a few of the advantages of teaching guitar online:

  • Time freedom. Many online guitar instructors create lessons that are self-serve. Meaning, students navigate through the material on their own. Whether you choose to add a live teaching component is up to you. By recording trainings that allow students to learn without you there, you’ll have much more time to do other things.
  • Location freedom. Teaching online lets you work from anywhere. If you like working from home, you can. If you prefer to be in a studio, that works too. Want to try living abroad for a year? It’s possible! The key is that you have the option to choose.
  • Saves money. With online courses, you don’t need to share your earnings with a music school, or rent a space for your classes. If you choose to work from home, you can save money on transportation to and from multiple classes. Apart from investing in an online course platform to deliver your content, you can dramatically cut your expenses from full-time in-person teaching.
  • Increased impact. Think about the amount of time it takes you to prep and deliver a one-on-one lesson. With courses, you can invest the same amount of time and energy creating your classes, and serve hundreds of students around the world.
  • Unlimited revenue potential. Wondering how much money you can make teaching guitar online? With courses, there is no ceiling on your earning potential, other than the number of students who enrol in your online program. Your ability to serve students is no longer tethered to the time you have available per week.

Many guitarists have experienced all of these benefits using Thinkific to deliver their courses. Take Dan Cosley for example, who started an online school on Thinkific teaching guitar improvisation and harmony. 

Dan-Cosley-Way-of-the-guitar

Not only have online courses enabled him to move from the United States to Japan, they’ve helped free up more time both raise his daughter, and advance his own guitar skills:

“Teaching online has allowed me to focus more on composition, performance, and research/book writing. It has helped to smooth the transition from Portland, Oregon to Kyoto, Japan, a move I made two years ago. Online teaching has also afforded greater flexibility in my work hours, which has been a great help with raising my two-year-old daughter.”

– Dan Cosley, founder of Way of The Guitar

Now, before we jump into the ‘how’ of teaching guitar online, there’s one more thing we should address. It’s a common question that plagues many people who are considering online courses for the first time…

Why would someone buy my online course when there’s already so much free content out there?
Does the world really need another guitar tutorial?

And the question makes sense. Between YouTube, ebooks and learning from people you know, there are many ways to learn guitar for free. There’s no doubt you can become a proficient guitarist by relying on these free resources. 

So why would someone buy your course? 

There’s a few reasons:

1) Quality content. Yes, there is a lot of free content out there. But a lot of that free content is garbage. In fact, it’s probably doing more harm to your practice than good. People who are serious about mastering their craft don’t want to waste time on tutorials that will either develop bad habits, or take them nowhere fast. They’re looking to learn from an expert who knows their stuff.

2) Clear learning path to a desired outcome. Contrary to the myriad of free content floating around, an online course provides students with a clear and cohesive path to a desired outcome. Yes, it’s possible to string together the right combination of free YouTube videos and create a home-spun path to guitar greatness. But many students would rather invest in a learning experience that will fast-track them towards their goal, and give them the confidence they are on the right path.

3) Structure and discipline. Some people like to learn on their own, while others need the structure, motivation and community to keep going. It comes down to personal preference. In teaching online, you have an opportunity to create a unique learning experience that serves the latter.

Now let’s jump into the how-to of teaching guitar online!

How to teach guitar online

There are five key areas this article cover to get you started teaching guitar online:

Step 1: Choose your guitar course topic and positioning
Step 2: Decide your course format and teaching method
Step 3: Get your tools and equipment for teaching online
Step 4: Create your first online lessons
Step 5: Market your online course

Step 1: Choose your guitar course topic and positioning 

The first thing you need to do is decide exactly who and what you will teach. Not only will this help you create better quality and focus content, it will help your marketing ring clear to prospective students. 

For example, do you want to teach beginners? Intermediate, or advanced guitarists? 

You might already be teaching a range of players in person. In getting started with online courses, it’s best to create lessons for a specific target group and build from there. 

In the same vein, consider if there are any specific genres or techniques you could focus on that will set you apart from the rest. For example, do you love teaching classic guitar, blues, or jazz? Or maybe you have a panache for teaching specific techniques  like finger-picking, improvisation or harmony. 

Davide Pannozzo is a guitarist and music producer who uses Thinkific to deliver his online guitar lessons. As a lover of blues guitar, he focused on creating an online school for all things blues:

davide-pannozzo-teach-guitar-online-1

Davide currently teaches over 3,000 students online through Thinkific. He urges aspiring course creators to pinpoint an area that sets you apart as a guitar teacher (your secret sauce) and focus on sharing that with the world: 

“Find what your peculiarity is and what you love, and focus on spreading that knowledge to the world.”

– Davide Pannozzo, founder of the online guitar school, GUITARlab

Not sure what your unique angle is? A good place to start is by asking your network for feedback, and doing a bit of research to identify gaps in the market. 

Here are a few questions to ask to help you determine your course positioning:

  • What does your ideal student look like? Where do they live, what do they do for fun, what musicians do they follow?
  • What level of guitar skill do you ideally want to teach online?
  • What areas of expertise and skills set you apart from other guitar teachers? 

If you are already teaching, make sure to ask your students what they enjoy most about your teaching style, or what challenges in their playing you’ve helped them overcome. 

If you’re new to teaching guitar, do a quick search on Google or Quora  for terms like ‘learn guitar online’. You’re bound to see a ton of questions on what people want to learn. Make a note of what online guitar schools are already out there, what people are searching, and where you could fill a gap. 

Quora-learn-guitar-online

 

Want an interactive guide to help you choose your course topic, and position it to a specific target audience? Download this free resource for Choosing Your Online Course Topic & Positioning below!

 

Step 2: Decide your course format and teaching method

There are several options when it comes to setting up guitar lessons online. 

Maybe you want to have a more hands-off approach, and develop all self-serve virtual lessons. 

Or maybe you enjoy face time with students but want more leverage in your time by offering some supplemental online resources.

Let’s look at a couple of different ways you can use courses to teach guitar online:

Option 1: Self-serve online guitar lessons

This approach is to create lessons that enable students to work through material at their own pace with no extra coaching required from you. 

The benefit of this is once you create and upload your course, you can teach an unlimited amount of students with no extra demands on your time.

James Testani set up his online academy GoodGuitarist to be self-serve virtual school for beginners. His lessons systematically build foundational skills for new guitar players.

Good-Guitarist-course-page

 

“With online courses, you can help tons of people with the same topic. And even though you’re teaching digitally, you can still make a strong connection with your students by building community into your business.”

– James Testani, founder of GoodGuitarist

 

Option 2: A combination of online courses and live coaching

Most commonly, we see online guitar teachers offering a combination of self-serve courses and live coaching. 

The benefit here is obviously that you maintain a point of connection with your students, while reaping the benefits of achieving scale through technology.

James Shipway is a good example of this method. He runs Total Guitar Lab on Thinkific, and offers a number of self-serve guitar courses as well as live coaching opportunities.

For example, students can purchase individual courses to master a specific guitar technique as well as sign up for live workshops and coaching for help working through the material:

James-Shipway-teach-guitar-online-course-page

“I’ve taught over 30,000 hours of one-on-one lessons, but the problem with this is that it’s simply not scalable, and it’s limited by locality. Teaching online means I can reach players all around the world and share what I’ve learned from all my teaching and performing experiences.”

– James Shipway, founder of Total Guitar Lab

Option 3: Online guitar membership

The third option is to offer a membership. Using this model, students pay a monthly subscription fee in exchange for new content or mentorship from you every month.

Davide Pannozzo, founder of GUITARlab offers a membership for $39/ month, where students get access to all the self-serve courses on his site, in addition to new and exclusive lessons for members each month. The membership also includes access to a student membership group, as well as more tailored teaching to help you reach your guitar goals.

Guitar-lab-membership-1

Guitar-lab-membership-2

If you’re leaning towards this option, you can easily create a membership site on Thinkific.

“Teaching online helped me connect to different countries and reach people I couldn’t otherwise. As for my lifestyle, I am now able to focus more on what I love and teach people who are interested in my kind of music!”

– Davide Pannozzo, founder of the online guitar school, GUITARlab

Step 3: Get your tools and equipment for teaching online

Next is to get the right equipment for teaching guitar online. In this section we’ll go over some of the common tools guitar teachers use.

Online course platform

Many online guitar teachers use Thinkific to build their very own virtual guitar studio. Here are just a few of the reasons guitarists love using the platform:

  • Deliver your lessons on autopilot. Once your lessons are loaded into your course site, your students get access to them in the order you’ve arranged. So whether you have videos or worksheets to share at different points in your lesson, your students can easily access them on autopilot. 
  • Easily upload and update any materials. Want to re-record a video, audio sample, or update a music notation worksheet? You can drag and drop your materials around each course, to keep your lessons organized without disrupting the learning experience for your students.
  • Full control and customization. Unlike marketplaces where you have no control over your course pricing or branding, you can fully customize these on Thinkific. And you’ll always have full access to any student information like emails or lesson progress. 
  • Simplified payments and communication. Any revenue you earn goes directly to you as the site owner. Thinkific integrates with popular payment processing tools like Paypal and Quaderno so you can automate payment and tax calculation, when teaching students from different countries.

Did you know that you can get started on Thinkific for free? Start building your courses and enrolling students on Thinkific today by signing up for a free account!

Create and sell online courses | Thinkific online course platform


James Testani runs his online school, GoodGuitarist using Thinkific. He loves having the flexibility to update his course content at any time, to reflect evolutions in his teaching style:

“With Thinkific, I can change things and improve my course as I learn more. It allows me to reach people with the most up to date information, in the best way I can teach it. I may teach something a certain way today, but five years from now I will probably have a better way of teaching it.”

– James Testani, founder of GoodGuitarist

James-Testani-Good-Guitarist-intro

Music recording software

You’ll also want to have a solid music recording software to create audio samples and lessons. Audacity for Windows or Garageband for Mac are free tools that make it easy for you to do this.

There are also a number of paid options like ProTools and Ableton that work with both Mac and PC with more advanced features. But unless you need the ability to do more complex compositions and sound mixing, you can get along just fine with the free options to get started teaching online.

Music notation software

If your teaching style includes preparing lead sheets, notating scales, chord progressions or guitar theory, you’ll likely want to get set up with a music notation software.

Since you won’t be writing in your student’s notebook every week, these programs can help you put together worksheets to share straight from your computer:

  • ScoreCloud – Free (up to 10 songs), or $5/ month subscription
    This is a neat tool that notates your music as you play.
  • Sibelius –Free trial for 30 days, or $20/ month subscription
    An easy to use and popular music notation software.
  • Guitar Pro – $70 one time fee
    This tool is designed specifically for notating fretted instruments.
  • Finale – $600 one time fee
    A bit pricey, but revered by many musicians for its notation and composition abilities.

Microphone

You’ll want to invest in a good quality microphone to record your audio. It goes without saying that sound quality affects a listener’s perception of a tune. But sound is also a very important factor in teaching online! Because no matter how well-produced your videos are, people will be quick to tune out when your audio suffers.

So how much should you spend? 

You definitely don’t need to break the bank on a mic. But we do suggest that you upgrade to something other than your built-in phone or computer microphone. 

Here are a few options to consider, in order of price:

Samson-Meteor-mic

 

Samson Meteor – $60 

Purchase on Amazon

 

 

Blue-Yeti-Microphone

 

Blue Yeti – $100

Purchase on Amazon

 

 

 

Audio-technica-mic

 

Audio-Technica – $150

Purchase on Amazon

 

 

Camera

Many guitar teachers get by with using the camera on their phone or laptop to record video lessons. This can work just fine, especially when accompanied by clear audio.

If you want to up your production value, consider purchasing an external webcam with a bit higher resolution. This Logitech Pro HD webcam retails for $100 and records crisp 1080P video calls and recordings. 

Video chat software

If you choose to include a live coaching element in your online course, you’ll need a way to connect with your students on video. There are a ton of great free tools you can use to do this that integrate with Thinkific, including GoogleHangouts or Skype. You could also set up a private or unlisted YouTube livestream link to share with your students.

Internet

While it may seem obvious, having a solid internet connection is important if you choose to livestream part of your lessons! There’s nothing worse than being in the thick of a session only to be interrupted by a failed connection. 

You can use a tool like speedtest.net or Speedof.me to check your internet speed. In general, you’ll want at least 1 Mbps (megabits per second) download speed for a two-way HD video call. If you plan on calling in a group, you’ll need more. If you plan to connect from different locations and different times of day, don’t forget to run a check. When in doubt, it’s always a good practice to wire your internet by plugging into an ethernet cable to ensure there are no disruptions during your lesson. 

Related article: Want more details on recommended tools for teaching music online? Check out this guide to the best equipment and software for creating your online course.

 

Step 4: Create your first online guitar course

Where do you start in mapping out your course content? Follow these next steps, and you’ll be on the right path!

Create your course sales page

A good first step is to create a sales page for your course on Thinkific. We recommend this for two reasons.

One, it will help focus your efforts in defining your value proposition and mapping out a course outline.

And two, it gives you a sales page to start driving traffic to. Don’t be afraid to spread the word about what you’re planning to create, even before you’ve started creating your content! This method is called pre-selling your online course, and it’s a great way to validate demand for your content. 

Assuming you’ve validated demand for your course, it’s a good time to start build out more content. 

Here’s an example of a good sales page. This is for Davide’s course on mastering blues rhythm guitar:

Davide-Pannozzo-mastering-blues

The page has a clear value proposition about what you’ll learn through the course, and includes social proof from past students. It has pricing options available, and most importantly, a clear call to action encouraging visitors to ‘buy now’.

If you had to fill in all these elements for your own course right now (before creating any of your content), can you see how it would help focus what you put in your course?

Create your course outline

Let’s say you want to create a course on fingerstyle guitar. To create your outline, you’ll want to identify the following:

  • What stage your student is at before enrolling your course (Point A)
  • What the student’s desired abilities and expectations are for taking your course (Point B)
  • The key steps, topics, and skills they’d need to move from their current state (Point A) to their desired state (Point B)

Once you have this rough outline down, it will be much easier to decide whether you need to film a video, develop a worksheet, or write specific lead sheets to develop finger picking strength.

Let’s look at another example. 

Andrew Axenov teaches modern fingerstyle guitar on through his Thinkific academy, guitarworkout.online.

modern-fingerstyle-guitar-workout

From his course sales page, you can see that it’s designed for students who having intermediate guitar skills, and a desire to improve their fingerstyle technique.

Upon completing his course, students can expect to have mastery over a modern fingerstyle guitar technique.

He’s outlined a clear structure and set of steps to help his students move from Point A, to B. 

Modern-fingerstyle-preview

Since mapping out a course outline can be tricky, we’ve put together a helpful guide and interactive to walk you through the process. You can download it below!

 

Next, we’ll walk through some common elements that successful guitar instructors include in their courses for great online learning experiences!

Elements of a great online guitar course

In analyzing some of top guitar schools on Thinkific, there were a number of elements that they had in common:

1) Interactive video tutorials

The top guitar schools include detailed video tutorials in each lesson. These often include on-screen tablature, chord, and strumming overlays to keep them interactive. Also, personalize your content whenever you can, by creating a warm welcome video to your course, and letting your personality show on camera. 

2) Play along audio tracks

Many guitar instructors also include play-along songs, allowing students to follow along slowly and apply the techniques demonstrated in the tutorial videos. 

3) Student assignments

Asking students to record a sample of their playing, and upload it to Thinkific is a great way for you to review their progress. Creating an assignment for each module of your course helps keeps the file sharing process streamlined and  organized.

4) Certifications

For each course your students complete, you can award them with certificates right from your Thinkific site. Certificates are a great way to increase completion rates, as they act as a motivator for some students.

5) Resources like chord charts, lead sheets

Add helpful resources like chord cheat sheets, lead sheets, or even a downloadable practice schedule to help your students keep on track. Upload your PDFs and worksheets right into Thinkific. You can have students can access them in a specific order to go along with their progress, or provide a bundle of helpful resources up front.

Dave-tran-ebook
Guitarist Dave Tran offers an ebook on his GuitarZero2Hero course site.

 

6) Coaching and feedback

To add a live coaching component to your course, create a link to a live video session using one of the tools mentioned earlier (GoogleHangouts, Skype, YouTube livestream, etc). Add these links to the modules within your course to schedule check-ins ahead of time. 

7) Community

Many guitar course sites include access to an exclusive community. Cultivating a sense of community is important to keep your students engaged, and connecting with other students all over the world. This is especially important if you’re interested in creating a membership site. With the Thinkific Community feature, you can create a private place for your students to connect, right on your course site.

“Be there for your students. Most other instructors aren’t, and I’ve had loads of surprised customers email me back saying that they couldn’t believe I actually replied to their question!”

– James Shipway, founder of Total Guitar Lab

Trying to keep all of these things in mind can seem overwhelming. But remember – you don’t need to have all of this built to launch your first online course

On the contrary, focus on building out one really great course that delivers the transformation your students are looking for. Get feedback from your students, improve your content, and then consider adding more pieces over time. 

James Shipway speaks from experience when he says that his best advice for guitarists is just to get started!

“Don’t wait ‘until you’re ready’. If you can teach well, go for it. So much online guitar tuition is just garbage and confuses people more than it helps them. Work out what you teach really well and notice where most players fall short on this topic. Then figure out what you’ve got that will help them and how to present it in a way they can actually use. Don’t overwhelm them with thousands of bits and pieces… just give them what they need to get some results and see some progress.”

– James Shipway, founder of Total Guitar Lab

James Shipway speaks from experience when he says that his best advice for guitarists is just to get started!

Step 5: Market your online guitar course

Last but not least, you need a plan to get students into you course. 

Your goal in all of your marketing efforts is to improve the ‘know, like and trust’ factor you have with your audience. In other words, you need to create a visibility among your target community, build your authority, and foster goodwill by providing actionable value.

There are an infinite number of ways to market your online course. But there are a few common ones we’ve seen work especially well for guitarists teaching online.

Build your presence on YouTube

YouTube is a great platform to invest in building your profile as a guitarist, and instructor. It’s often the first place people turn to online to improve their guitar skills. Having a presence on YouTube will help you capture organic search traffic from people looking for guitar tutorials. From your channel, you can drive that interest to your course site. 

Guitarist James Shipway has seen this strategy drive tons of traffic to his courses:

“I love the fact that my YouTube content is evergreen. I’ve got videos that I made 3 years ago which still get views and help me get my name out there. I don’t always heavily promote my courses and membership in my YouTube lessons… but I do have certain ‘series’ of videos that promote any relevant products I have to offer,” he says.

 

Have a social media strategy

Decide what your goals are with social media before jumping onto each and every platform out there. Which platforms can you leverage the most to develop your community? How can you use each channel to drive traffic back to your site? 

Also keep in mind where your target audience spends the most time online. If you’re targeting an older demographic to teach them beginner guitar, Facebook and YouTube might be your best bet. 

Take your time to do a bit of research on your target demographics on social media, then start putting content out there to test your engagement! 

“I’ve been using Facebook ads since the beginning of launching my online course. It’s the best way I’ve found to reach new people every day.”

– Davide Pannozzo, founder of GUITARlab

Use lead magnets to grow your email list

Since teaching online means you’re running a digital business, you must start to build your email list if you haven’t already. 

Even if you have tons of traffic to your social media or course site, only a small portion of that traffic will actually transpire into paying customers. 

A good strategy to build your list is to create a lead magnet – a free resource – for download. This could be a free ebook, or PDF of musical samples you demonstrate on your YouTube channel. When people download your free resources, you’ll get have their email in return. You can use then nurture these emails towards your paid programs by sending them information about all the helpful training you have available. 

drop-voicing-book-teach-guitar

Write an ebook

Ever considered writing and marketing an ebook? This could be a guide to strumming patterns, chord progressions, or exercises to build up finger strength. You could sell your ebook on Amazon to generate more awareness and sales. Or you could offer it as a free resource for download as part of your sales funnel. Many online guitar teachers have found ebooks useful as part of their marketing strategy. 

Take Dan Cosley for example, who’s found success building his audience and driving sales with ebooks:

“Unlike many music instructors, I haven’t focused much on YouTube or social media, but have instead relied on book writing and traditional publishing to generate interest in my video courses. I have cultivated a synergy between Amazon book sales and Thinkific course enrollments to create revenue.”

– Dan Cosley, founder of Way of The Guitar

If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You’ve got a solid roadmap to getting started teaching guitar online with Thinkific. 


What do you think about teaching guitar online, is it something you’d try?

If you have experience teaching music online, we’d love to know how it’s worked for you and lessons you’ve learned along the way!


Ready to start creating your guitar course? Sign up for a free account on Thinkific, and download this helpful free guide to creating your first online course:

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.