By: Josh Jewsbury
In this article, Kent RGT guitar teacher Josh Jewsbury describes how he’s developed his guitar teaching studio over the years.
I would like to share with you just how fortunate I have been with decisions I made to establish myself as a guitar tutor.
I started out giving a few lessons to a neighbour’s daughter at her house charging just a small fee for my time.
After one or two more enquiries I turned my spare room into a makeshift ‘teaching studio’ and ran an ad in a local magazine, picking up a few lessons that kept me busy a couple of evenings a week.
This all took place whilst I still had a 9-to-5 job. However, a voluntary redundancy made it an ideal time to think of a career change.
To make a really successful guitar business teaching I knew I had to improve my ‘corporate’ image, as teaching from the spare room was not really going to impress anyone long term.
I made a list of what I currently had to offer and what I would ideally want to offer.
The spare room was far from ideal, as students had to go upstairs to the smallest room in the house, where we were unable to play loudly as it would disturb my children and neighbours.
Equipment was limited to two guitars, one amp and a couple of beginner’s guitar books, which was not really adequate.
Therefore, I needed to look for a better location and build my resources.
I now needed some form of qualification that reflected my skills. Praise be for RGT!
I decided to become a registered guitar teacher, buy all the electric and bass guitar grade books and take lessons myself from an RGT registered tutor. I also joined the Musicians Union to enjoy the benefits that offered.
Eventually I signed up at the Contemporary Music School in East Sussex, an excellent establishment staffed by excellent tutors that run courses all based on the RGT syllabuses.
Here I studied to RGT Grade Eight in both guitar and bass and then went on and took my Diploma in Electric Guitar Performance.
Finding work in local schools provided me with the important CRB (now DBS) disclosure.
By now I had found premises suitable for teaching; a small art studio not far from where I live.
The room was large enough to have up to three students at a time. I also had space where parents could wait for their child.
This was important as I once had a parent drop off a nine year old boy at my door and just drive away without a by your leave or even hello!
So I now insist parents stay for at least the first lesson to get to know me. The studio had a kitchen area, space for bookcases and amplifiers, a comfy chair for parents and wall space to hang a few guitars, it also had a tiled floor which was mud proof. Perfect…For now.
I worked from that studio for about five years until another studio in the same complex became available.
This new studio had two rooms to allow me to separate the teaching room from the storage area and kitchen space and also provide room to fit a workbench for guitar repairs.
You may be thinking by now that this appears to be a lot of effort and financial outlay when you could simply drive to students’ homes.
I agree, but take the view that this is my chosen profession and the ‘corporate image’ adds value to the service I offer.
I did at one time go to peoples’ houses to teach, but I found this limiting, not only in time spent driving from one location to another, but also in the resources at my disposal, such as books, backing tracks and even choice of guitar.
And the possibility of ending up teaching in someone’s kitchen was not ideal either; try teaching with the washing machine spinning away in the background and you’ll understand what I mean.
In comparison, in my studio I have an environment dedicated to teaching without distractions.
It has an extensive library of written, audio and visual teaching aids, which along with Internet access gives me the opportunity to fine-tune every lesson to suit the student’s needs.
The story should end there, but recently and with unbelievable luck, I moved to what can only be described as the perfect home: a detached house with an attached studio annex.
Establishing the ideal premises for guitar teaching has been a long road, but was well worth the effort.