I’ve been teaching for nearly a decade. First, I started teaching myself guitar tabs from the internet. A few years later, I became a ski instructor. Finally, I realized I could combine both these passions - for instructing and for guitar - to teach guitar lessons, both in person and online.
Even though I’ve been an instructor for most of my career, I’m still constantly improving and refining my teaching methods. Each student is an opportunity for me to grow more and hone my skills, as well as apply the lessons I’ve learned over the years to achieve the best outcomes.
If you’re also thinking about teaching online courses, benefit from my experience by keeping the following in mind.
Don’t forget to empathize. Put yourself in your student’s shoes - or better yet, remember how you felt when you were first starting out. Practicing empathy makes you more patient, and more likely to think about the methods that worked for you so you can apply them to your trainees.
People learn in different ways - personalize your methods to different needs. When I was first learning to snowboard, my instructor taught me that you needed to “twist” your board to turn. This resulted in several faceplants in the snow. I was frustrated, until I realized that instead of twisting, I had to look up the mountain. That was the language and action that resonated with me as a student. If he would have tried teaching in a different way, or using different verbiage to explain himself, I may have “gotten it” more quickly.
To avoid this happening to you and your student, make sure you identify different learning styles and adapt your lessons based on that. Obviously, with online classes, you aren’t able to adapt to each specific student - but try to incorporate several different teaching styles or ways of explaining things in your video. You can even have several different videos teaching the same thing, but in different ways, to provide different perspectives into your topic.
Get to the root of the problem. One of my frustrations with many of the YouTube guitar lessons I saw online is that they show viewers the correct way to play, but never address how to overcome barriers or challenges that students may encounter. For example, they break down how to play a chord, but never address the fact that some student’s hands may not be strong enough to work independently of each other. In my videos, I make sure to address common roadblocks and show practical tips and exercises they can use to overcome these challenges.
Don’t forget to help your students problem-solve - identify common traps or pitfalls they may fall into, and help them identify how to work around them. This will help keep your students motivated and moving forward in your classes, instead of giving up after they run into issues.
Find a competitive advantage. Whatever subject area you’ve chosen for your online classes, it’s likely that others are also teaching classes with a similar topic. This means that you have to differentiate yourself and make sure you’re standing out among the competition.
To do this, think about what you can do better than anyone else. What is your speciality that you can bring to your online classes that would make people choose your classes over others’? Pick one thing and commit to sticking to it.
By learning from my past experiences with instructing and following these tips, you can build a successful career selling online classes, just as I did with my guitar lessons.
Micah Lipsmeyer is a musician and instructor with over ten years of experience teaching guitar lessons. His teaching style enables his students to learn proper form that lets them start playing their favorite songs faster. Learn more at 90dayguitar.com.