We’re in this with you. We’ve been trying to brainstorm some ways to find opportunity in this time of uncertainty – to level up while we wait for things to level out. (Our last one was about using the opportunity to create.)
In times of uncertainty, there is also opportunity.
This period of quarantine is an opportunity to level-up.
If there’s a silver lining, this is it.
What else can you do besides create?
Many musicians take advantage of their free time while not touring by teaching. Sure, now the free time is unexpected and a lot more plentiful, so it’s probably an even better time to start (if you haven’t already) or amplify (if you’ve already started.)
Here are some concrete ways you can take advantage of this opportunity by teaching:
If you’ve got the skills to be on tour, you’ve got the skills others want to learn. Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You may also learn a great deal, and teaching will help you work on your communication, marketing, and organizational skills, and can also elevate your status.
Yes, teaching is an art and science. Yes, it takes some practice. But as long as you have the desire to share your knowledge, the patience to share it in bite-sized increments, and the willingness to roll up your sleeves and promote your services, you’ll do fine.
Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about teaching kids…plenty of adults are eager to learn what you can teach. In fact, adult students can give you a great deal more flexibility, as you can often teach in digestible chunks rather than the steady weekly schedule kids need. This can allow you to teach one concept or idea per one-off lesson rather than an ongoing series of lessons every week.
If you’re a musician, this is obvious. Sure, you can teach students what you know. They don’t have to be beginners, and they don’t have to be kids…you can focus on intermediate-level adults, for instance.
But you don’t just have to teach obvious stuff like technique. Think outside the box! Why not teach some cool stuff that’s not as readily available? Stuff like:
- Recording techniques
- Tour prep
- Running an effective rehearsal
- Efficient practice
- Learning tunes quickly
- Emergency tools and parts you can’t live without
- Finding your sound
- Writing parts/songs
- Specific gear choices (heads/strings/sticks, etc.)
- The proper way to ________
…you get the idea. The point is you don’t just have to teach the basics of playing, you can add a ton of value by teaching the behind the scenes stuff a musician needs to learn to be successful.
This can be tricky but can open up new avenues for you. If you’re a guitarist, why not do a few lessons aimed at bass players or drummers? Or if you’re a bass player, why not teach drummers your approach to writing bass lines?
Not a musician? No problem.
This is where it gets really exciting. For those who haven’t toured and would like to, or those who just want to learn more, there is a huge void of practical knowledge of the touring industry. Lots of folks can play but only those lucky enough to have toured know how that side of the industry works.
Here are some ideas:
- What to pack for a tour
- Booking tips
- Tour routing
- Choosing venues
- What you’re looking for in tour mates
- Saving money while on the road
- Effective rehearsal techniques
- Stage presence for musicians
- Mixing basics for musicians
- Stage wardrobe dos and don’ts
- Choosing & selling tour merch
For players who have the goal to go on tour, this will be incredibly valuable info, and no one’s really teaching it – most of us learn it live by making mistakes while on tour. This material also appeals to musicians on all instruments, even the weekend warriors who are just curious as to how it all works behind the scenes.
One thing’s clear: the riches are in the niches.
More things to consider…
Start where you are with what you’ve got. During this crisis, we’re obviously talking about virtual lessons. There’s tons of technology at your fingertips.
PayPal works fine as a payment gateway. You can even set up an easy PayPal.me link (such as paypal.me/woodshed) for students to quickly and easily pay for your time and expertise.
Of course, lessons can be a good supplementary source of income for you, and Lord knows we need it in times like these. But you can also build your profile by making short lesson videos and uploading them to YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook and offering some great content for free. Giving away value helps position you as an expert and may entice students to pay for more in-depth and/or tailored content.
Google Hangouts, Skype, even FaceTime work just fine. Make sure you get a small tripod to hold your phone if you need a hands-free option. There’s always YouTube for free content, as well as the obvious social media platforms (IGTV, Facebook video, etc.)
Don’t neglect the written word as well. If you’re not blogging, you should be. Blogs still do great to drive traffic to your site if your SEO is done well, and help to position you as an expert in your field.
Don’t neglect this. Assuming you’re filming in your home, pick a room with relatively little clutter and a neutral wall. If you can do it in your home studio or practice space, great. But if you need to do it in your bedroom or living room, take notice of your background. Pick a quiet corner or statement wall. Make sure you’ve got some natural light or soft lighting you can control. Make sure you can keep pets and housemates from barging in and keep outside noise to a minimum.
(Again, a lot of this seems obvious, but it’s so often overlooked it’s worth mentioning.)
While not everything needs to be studio-quality, low-quality audio takes you down a notch in the eyes of your viewer. If you’re just speaking, or you’re playing on a quiet instrument, your phone’s mic is probably fine. But for about $100 or less you can get a decent mic that will limit outside noise and focus on you. It’s usually best to keep instruments to low volume when you can to limit peaking and distortion.
Whatever you decide to teach and however you decide to deliver, teaching can be a rewarding way to take advantage of some of your downtime. It may give you a renewed sense of purpose, you may get a fresh perspective, and have some fun and even make some money in the process. It’s a win-win.
What will you create?
Who does a great job teaching in the music industry?
What sorts of things could you teach someone?
Comment below with some more ideas.