Teaching Guitar in Schools – A Guide for Working Tutors

Charlie Tottman outlines how you can benefit from providing guitar lessons in schools and summarises a few of the main points to consider.

Working within schools as a peripatetic tutor can have several benefits. Perhaps most appealing, is that you’re usually able to teach within the school day, leaving evenings free for additional private lessons, gigs or just a bit of time off. It also gives you the opportunity to adapt your teaching style to encompass a more dynamic, group learning approach. Not to mention the financial benefits of having access to a broad base of students.

Arrangements Within Schools 

You need to consider that different schools will have different arrangements in regard to when and how the lessons are delivered. Private or fee-paying schools will often already have a team of tutors employed by the school, carrying out the lessons on a weekly basis. This will usually mean that you will have to wait until a vacancy arises within the school. This may be the case for a lot of state secondary schools too; the demands of GCSE music courses often require a peripatetic tutor who is able to work closely with the school’s music department. However, state primary schools are least likely to be providing lessons already. This can be a perfect opportunity for you to approach the school, suggesting that instrumental lessons would be a huge benefit to the children.

What you need to get started 

If you already have experience delivering lessons as a private tutor, you probably have most of the necessary tools you need to get started; teaching materials, DBS clearance and suitable public liability cover. However, before you start offering your services to schools you need to consider how to adapt your usual teaching approach to facilitate group lessons. Some students may wish to learn privately at school but dividing those interested into groups can be a lot more time efficient, whilst helping to create a dynamic learning experience. Perhaps consider the following:

  • How might you adapt your current teaching material to be taught in a group of 3-4 students?
  • Could you write a few short duet or ensemble pieces, arranged for guitar?
  • Using a graded handbook could still be an option in the group lessons but you may need to adjust the pace of your teaching to accommodate mixed abilities within the group. 

Also consider how the lessons will work from an administrative standpoint. When approaching schools offering your services, I suggest that you offer to handle all of the timetabling and billing relating to the lessons; you want to make the process as easy as you can for them. Liaising with a potentially large number of parents can be overwhelming at first, but with a system in place to keep you organised (a simple spreadsheet is enough), the process can be fairly straightforward. Don’t let the admin involved put you off!

All you ask of the school staff is that you are provided with a comfortable space to carry out the lessons.

Approaching Schools

In theory, this may all sound quite appealing but how do you go about approaching schools and offering your services? It’s important that you don’t pester the staff; the truth is that many schools will already have lessons in place with another provider with whom they are perfectly happy.

To get started, I suggest you try:

  • Creating a simple PDF e-flyer with your contact details and all the relevant info about your lessons, laid out simply and cleanly. Sending a link to your website is fine, but ideally you want to provide something the school can share with parents that is specific to what is on offer.
  • Contact local schools and offer to run a free demonstration assembly to gauge whether there is any interest in the lessons. Emailing in the first instance, then following up with a call. All school websites will have contact details listed.
  • Ask whether the school are happy to distribute your e-flyer directly to students/teachers via the school newsletter. 

What Else Could You Offer?

Do you teach the ukulele? Ukulele lessons can be a great way to get younger children started. If there are children who are keen to learn but who are perhaps too young to adapt to the technical demands of a guitar, you may find that the ukulele provides a manageable alternative until they are old enough to try a 1/2 size or 3/4 size guitar.

Organising and preparing students for school performances is another way to add value to the lessons that you offer. This can be seen as a hugely positive experience for both students and parents and it’s a great way to motivate and encourage students towards practising and improving.

Providing lessons in schools can be a great way to vary your weekly teaching schedule and with a few adjustments to your teaching approach, is an ideal way to diversify you student base and bolster your income.

This article has been independently supplied by the author and expresses the author’s own views and opinions; the article does not purport to represent RGT’s views or policies.

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