Want to get the inside scoop from a guitar teacher with 15 years in the world of online guitar teaching?
I recently conducted an interview with Chris Brooks, a successful online guitar teacher, author, and educator. He’s doing wonderful things in the online guitar teaching space, and I was fortunate to have him take the time to answer some of my questions.
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While some of us guitar teachers are working in classrooms, and others have our own teaching studio, more of us are turning to YouTube, social media, and other forms of online teaching.
Chris Brooks has successfully transitioned from teaching in-person lessons and no longer trades his time for money.
Instead, he relies on a mix of selling his books through Amazon with publisher Fundamental Changes. He also creates courses and products which he shares with his social media following.
Chris is an absolutely phenomenal player and bases most of his content around shredding and advanced lead guitar techniques.
“About 15 years ago I started thinking about what I was doing—a mix of gigs and teaching. I was keen to find a new challenge and a long-term plan. I wanted something that could take me beyond my 40s and into retirement.
I could see that as the internet grew, it was going to be a lot easier to get off the clock and build a situation in which I was self-reliant.
In terms of teaching content, I also found that people were coming to me for the same information frequently. It made more sense to package that and scale it worldwide rather than keep delivering the same lesson personally, locally, an hour at a time.”
“It was something I achieved in stages.
First, I whittled my private teaching commitments down to the bare minimum for paying rent and food. I also said no to all gigs, and started using more time to create my first few video courses.
Being productive was a necessity to warrant the financial chances I was taking on myself.
Nowadays, it’s a habit really. Work like you’re staving and you’ll always do your best.”
“Six or seven years ago, I was telling my father (a career drummer himself) that I’d love to write books about guitar picking that would be renowned as “Stick Control” by George Lawrence Stone is for drummers as an essential method.
In high school, I thought I wanted to be a writer of some kind.
As the idea percolated, I contacted Joseph Alexandar (FC Founder) to ask about what it would take to get started as a professional writer. I wasn’t expecting anything beyond a little advice. Joseph took a look around at what I was doing with video courses and whatnot and suggested we partner up to start turning some of those into books.
I released my first book in October 2017 and launched the 13th book yesterday!”
You can check out Chris’ full catalog on his Amazon page.
“For me, it was by being around before social media, then reading the terrain along the way.
In the early 2000s, I had a couple of albums out. I was doing basic e-commerce with CDs on my website already, as well as networking on music forums.
So, I’ve seen attention shift from the dot com and email lists to MySpace, Facebook, and then everything after.
I try not to be too attached to this platform or that. Instead, I watch what’s working and put the most energy into that.
Facebook and Instagram are two that did well for me in their growth periods.
I was very regular and prolific in content creation.
Now my focus has shifted back to email. I’m in contact with the people that support me every day rather than being a content machine.
I don’t want to be 60 and still asking people to “smash that like button and click the bell”
Develop your own approaches to teaching things.
See what works and what doesn’t.
You have a new beta tester coming into your lesson room every 30 minutes.
Have a vision, have a niche, have an interesting take on something.
And obviously, develop a knack for writing. Don’t write 30 words when you can say it in 12.”
“Know your book before it even exists.
Reverse engine the finished product that exists in your mind then trace back the steps.
Write a proposal for your book outlining what it would teach, and to whom.
A publisher, while obviously wanting great content, also needs to know who’s going to buy it.
A book should solve a problem. If there isn’t much of a problem out there, there’s not much need to publish a solution or an answer to a question that no one is asking.
In terms of practical steps, when you have your concept, I personally believe you should be part-way through making it happen before approaching publication.
I think they’ll appreciate that you believe in this enough to do it with or without them, whether you have one chapter or just the skeleton of what the whole thing will be like.”
The best thing that the teacher can do, I feel, is know their stuff inside and out.
Learn something about biomechanics, understand the causes behind common problems, and devise solutions for them that 9/10 people could benefit from.
Not necessarily to make people do it the way you do it, but t meet them where they’re at and guide them to being the best version of that.
A lot of technique stuff can’t be solved with brute force or blind repetition. Being able to spot an issue, point it out to the student, and come up with a plan to solve it could absolutely save years of hassle and wasted practice on the student’s side.”
“1. Progressive overload is how you build biceps, not speed. Doing 30 minutes of the metronome in 3bpm increments with one lick is probably time that could be used better.
2. Test something for speed before doing bulk repetition. Warm it up, pay attention to good form, then accelerate to the edge of your ability to see if what you have even has the potential for speed. Then, choose a few practical tempi to work at and keep assessing the top speed from session to session. Three speeds are probably enough: one for form, one for controlled speed, and another to push you to the limit.
3. If something trips you up at 120bpm, it will trip you up at 180bpm. You can’t play faster than the truth! Locate that little snag, isolate it, exaggerate it by making it more difficult and therefore easier when you play the regular version.”
You can check out Chris’ recent publications over on Amazon:
This can be a very daunting experience for guitar teachers.
Fortunately, rather than letting you figure everything out for yourself, we have the TopMusic Guitar Teacher’s Program to guide you through every step of the way!
If you want to know how to become an online guitar teacher and make a transition into the world of online guitar lessons, TopMusic Guitar has everything you need!