A guitar teacher's guide to using the Web

Image from Rick Harris, via Flickr

The Web can be a great way to promote your teaching - as long as you keep it personal and focused, and remember to spend some time actually teaching, says Jason Priest, founder of guitar studio Little Rock Jams.

Jason left a corporate career to start his guitar teaching studio, and has never looked back. "I often say I haven't worked a day since I left corporate life," he says. "I've put in many more hours running my own business than I ever did in an office; but it doesn't feel like working because it's what I want to do."

As well as being committed to teaching, Jason is well-versed in the Web. I asked him: where do guitar aficionados hang out online? "It's insane, the quantity and quality of guitar content on the Web," he told me. "To the point that guitarists may spend more time surfing the Web than they actually do playing/practicing. As a musician, you should spend more time with your instrument rather than your laptop - that's my teacher side coming out!"

There's a few guitar websites he'd recommend, though. "For gear talk, there's only one place: Guitar Heads. Plus, the two guys running the site, Gary and Dan, love what they do - and they have a great community with guitar reviews, contests, forums, video tutorials, guitar lessons and a lot more." Jason also recommends From The Woodshed, the personal blog of guitar music scholar Joe Walker.

As well as hanging out with other guitarists in communities and blogs, Jason has built Little Rock Jams into a friendly resource for anyone interested in learning guitar, whether they're likely to become face-to-face students or not. This was always part of Jason's strategy: "From the moment I wrote my business plan for Little Rock Jams, I knew the Web would be a key element to promoting the studio and attracting students. It really is a no-brainer, considering that my market is a niche market."

With a bit of work, the Web can provide for free or nearly-free as much advertising as a teacher could need, as Jason points out: "In this Google Age, traditional advertising forms such as print and TV/radio get you less for your dollar than simply having a good site with quality content. If you can get up in the search engine rankings for your keywords, then you'll have a steady stream of hits to your site and calls to your business."

This doesn't have to be an all-absorbing pursuit: "I would say I spend an hour or so a day working the blog, publishing guitar videos, moderating comments, promoting the site and so on," he says. So what are his tips for getting your teaching out there like this? The key thing is to keep it personal, he says, for example in a teaching blog: "I'm a blog guy. I favor the "real person" approach to guitar talk more than a corporate page."

So does his online activity actually bring Jason new real-life guitar students? "Yes, most definitely. Our belief is that if we do a good job in our lessons and how we come across on the website, potential students can essentially "try us out" before calling. They'll have a feel for how we play, our musical interests and personalities and a chance to see the studio."

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