Tutor: Tutors and Gigging

Depending on where you grew up, the term “gigging” might conjure visions of frogs or fish at the end of a spear. But anyone with a background in music sees gigging in a different light, likely envisioning desperate bands playing empty clubs, hoping against hope for a ticket to the big time. But the gig is the thing, isn’t it?

Ron Wood observed, “With every gig, we have to prove ourselves better than the night before.” Faulty comparisons aside, this literal rock star makes a point any performer–or private tutor–can appreciate.

Gigging quite aptly describes the process of working one event at a time with the expectation (or dream) that each one will lead to the next and hopefully better one. Just about every band, from the one your uncle played in to the one the estimable Mr. Wood plays in, started in a cramped little nightclub or basement party. The best acts move from venue to venue, attracting fans, earnings, and–most important–opportunity as they go. The nobility in gigging lies in the premise that quality, commitment, and professionalism open doors to greater success. Sounds like tutoring, doesn’t it?

When you’re first starting out as a tutor, you think one student at a time. This makes sense, since the most important student is always the one in front of you. But on a practical level, your first student will probably teach you more than you teach him. We hope for easy students at first, the ones that learn quickly and smile readily. Every one, however, is a learning experience. Every one, if you learn fast enough, leads to the next.

We’ve already discussed obvious parallels between performing and teaching in this space. Here’s another: envision your dream career in tutoring as you would one in any field where work is never guaranteed.

Perhaps you simply  aspire to fill a certain number of hours per week. Maybe you want to become the highest paid private tutor in your area. You may possibly even want to start an education business that eventually sets the standard for instructional excellence while rewarding you with boundless prosperity and professional satisfaction. Set those goals high! But don’t expect your fantasies to become reality all at once, any more than a young performer can expect to jump from the local dive to a sold-out stadium overnight. We are all gigging. Bring your best to every lesson and, as one gig leads to the next, you may see all your dreams come true.

— Mike Bergin

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