Teaching guitar

AT WORK

The musician says of his job: `If you love what you do, you'll never work again'

January 02, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Scott Spivey

Guitar instructor

Baltimoreguitarlessons.com, Baltimore

Salary --$30,000

Age --27

Years on the job --10

How he got started --Spivey said he first picked up a guitar at age 4. His father played, so there was always one around the house. When he was about 17, he needed to make money and started offering lessons.

"I played guitar all my life. So I figured I should make a living at what I'm best at and what I love doing. I guess I got lucky."

Typical day --Spivey offers electric and acoustic guitar lessons out of two studios, one in Baltimore and the other in White Marsh.

On a busy day he will teach as many as eight students during half-hour, 45-minute or one-hour lessons. He works Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. His youngest student is 7 and his oldest is 52. He will provide guitars for students if they don't have their own, but he suggests they buy one.

"There's no books and no stickers with smiling faces after completing a lesson. There's the satisfaction of you being able to say, `Hey, I always wanted to play that,' and being able to."

Cost --Twenty-five dollars for a half-hour lesson.

Plays professionally --Spivey plays guitar professionally four or five nights a week with several local bands, including Starcrush and the Dave DeMarco Band.

His guitar --A '70s reissue of a Gibson Les Paul. "That's my baby right now."

The good --"I love the satisfaction of knowing I just helped somebody reach a goal."

The bad --Trying to make money based off other people's commitments. To grow and maintain his clientele, Spivey routinely reaches out beyond the lessons by sending out e-mail, always having his phone on, letting his students know about new shows.

He also attends the performances of his students.

"It's maintaining a relationship with them, like in any business."

Learning guitar --He will teach students how to read notes if they want to learn that way, but he prefers helping them develop an ear for music.

"Music is something you hear and you feel, not just something you read." Everyone progresses at a different pace.

It's portable --"You can take a guitar anywhere you want to go and it's really easy to sit down and start making a song."

Advertising --Spivey set up his Web site, the same name as his business, a few months ago.

Philosophy on the job --"Always do the best you can. If you love what you do, you'll never work again."

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