Here at Certain Sparks, we’ve been offering a free 30 minute lesson to prospective students for the past several years. We get several sign ups every week, and it’s always enjoyable to watch someone try out a new instrument for the first time, becoming aware in real-time of the world of possibilities that lie ahead.
The purpose of our free lesson offer is to give someone a chance to explore our space, meet our teachers, and feel out an instrument before committing to a paid lesson, which can add pressure to an already awkward new situation.
Occasionally, a customer seems reluctant to take up our offer, like they expect there to be a trick or a catch. This weekend, a father brought his son into the shop to look for his first guitar, and he was hesitant to spend money on an instrument that his son might not take to. We suggested he sign his son up for a free 30 minute lesson before making his purchase, and if the kid enjoyed it, he could always come back to buy a guitar. The father eyed me suspiciously and asked, “Yeah, but what if he doesn’t enjoy the lesson? Then I have to pay you guys for it?” No, bro. The lesson is still free.
I was reminded of a time when my own father was similarly hesitant to buy my first guitar, the way that a parent might hesitate to get their kid a puppy, fearing that they might only feed it for a week before their interests changed. I understand this apprehension — kids can be incredibly fickle — but it’s important to remember what they’re asking for, sometimes. Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak a new language. It takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, and it opens up new parts of the brain.
However, some kids just want an instrument so they can bang on it for a week, show it off to their friends, and then they’re going to stuff it under their bed until they go away to college. The thing is, you know your kid better than anyone, and you probablyknow what his/her motivations are. And if you’re not sure, consider signing them up for a free lesson, so you can gauge their response before you put money into it.