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Why I Chose To Be A Guitar Teacher Over A Live Performer

Updated: Jun 20

If you've been following the Fresh Music Aberdeen blog, you would know that the question most asked of me is - "Why do you teach guitar?". However, the second and just as important question asked of me is - "Why did you not become a full-time performer?".

I started playing guitar at the age of 5 years old and my dream (which is not unfamiliar to many other budding guitarists) was to play live and make music for a living. I didn't really get the opportunity to do this until I was about 12 - I started playing with a band made up of friends who also shared the same dream (unsurprisingly). We jammed together for a while and although I was getting guitar lessons at the time, it wasn't until I started playing with others that I really go to hone my craft as a musician. I learned that to be a part of a band you must learn to manage the band dynamic - i.e. musical ego. Despite that elephant in the room (other live performers will know what I mean), I was able to develop my skills on stage with a band - I was living the dream!

Despite our initial success (playing at parties and family gatherings), it was short lived as the reality of trying to make a living from music became more apparent. Even as we reached our later teens, the constant grind to make money as a band became more difficult and tiresome. We grew up in Aberdeen and with it being the Oil Capital of Europe, it isn't exactly known for its diverse love of music. Venues would pay very little, rehearsal space was expensive and splitting £50 four ways became sadly, the norm! However, despite those setbacks that wasn't the main reason I took my performance hat off and put on my teaching one instead.

I realised through playing live regularly and consistently that my love for music lay behind the scenes. Now don't get me wrong - I still really enjoy getting up and playing with a band, it's fun to work with other like-minded musicians and I love that I still get to do that. I also hate the saying "those who can't do, teach". I hate it merely because it isn't true. Without blowing my own trumpet, I feel I could hold my own on stage and although you never stop learning as a musician, I believe my experience makes me a competent and reliable guitarist.

I felt I actually got more shy as I got older. I felt I wanted to be in the shadows more than the spotlight; that my true love of music was to help others realise their dreams and help get them to where they want to be. I really enjoy working with students one-on-one. I feel you get a more honest overview of a person when there aren't others around; people are more themselves. I often get the nickname "Councillor Con" which I don't mind, as the job is often about connecting with people. By doing that I feel you can actually teach better. I can tailor my teaching style to suit that individual student because I know that individual student. I know what works for them, what doesn't and what to offer (music-wise) to keep them interested.

There are a lot of guitar teachers out there who I think teach despite their real passion being to perform. I teach because I want to teach, because I love working with people. I teach because I want to help others. I teach because I feel that's my passion and I feel that's what I'm meant to do in this life. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I want to pack it all in and do something else but that's life. Not every day is a great day but I do my best to offer a professional service with as many unique selling points as possible. For me, the idea of performing full-time just doesn't do it for me anymore. The money would be great if I was to make it to the "big league" but I'm content with where I'm at. I will never stop learning as a guitar teacher, and I will continue to offer music lessons in Aberdeen that are unlike any other. That is why I chose to be a guitar teacher over being a live performer!


P.S. These are some of the 70 students I teach on a weekly basis.

Image of Student

Image of Student

Image of Student

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