The Three Stats That Will Drive Your Music School Student Registrations From Your Website.

Today I’d like to introduce or possibly re-introduce the classic sales funnel for your business. Traditionally, sales funnels for online businesses follow this pattern:

Traffic – Leads – Sales

When we apply this funnel to music school websites, we have a very similar result

Traffic – Student Contact Information (Leads) – New Student (Sales)

The fascinating thing about the online sales funnel is that it is very easy to track all of these details. When you can track how many leads it takes to make one sale, and how much traffic is needed to generate one lead, you can increase your business at will. The sky’s the limit when you have these three figures in your hand. Let’s go through an example.

In my own former teaching business,, I knew these figures inside out. When I has a potential student in front of me, I almost always made the sale. So my conversion rate for sales was 90%.

My website worked well enough – for every 140 people to visit my website, 1 person filled in my very detailed contact form. My website was designed in such a way as to eliminate people who weren’t serious about learning guitar, so if you have more relaxed standards you could do far better than that.

So if I wanted ten new students, I could just work backwards on those figures and I’d know exactly how much I needed to spend to get those ten students.

Sales – 90% conversion rate. If I assume 10% of people I meet won’t sign up, I’ll need 11 people to fill in my contact form and meet me.

Leads – 140:1. I need 11 people to contact me to get 10 new students, so that means I need 1540 (11×140) people to visit my site to get 10 filled in contact forms. That means I need to drive 1,540 visits to my website in a given time period.

So now my sales funnel looks like this:


Student Contact Information (Leads)

New Student (Sales)







So there you have it. Just by having a target and the proper stats, I can very easily drive student registration.

If you want to increase it by even more, you just keep multiplying.


Student Contact Information (Leads)

New Student (Sales)










Action Step: Review your google analytics for your website. Review how many people it takes to gain one student or contact form. If you don’t have this set up, consider hiring a freelancer to set it up. these stats are just too important to ignore.


What a Stanford Experimental Psychologist Can Teach You About Playing Guitar Solos Part 3

How To Learn Any Solo Part 3

This is an article in a series. you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

A few months ago, I wrote about how to learn any solo, and what a Stanford experimental psychologist could teach you about playing guitar. Today I’ll be showing you the fruits of my labour – four months of ‘work’ (is it really work if you enjoy it?). There was one thing that helped me wrap up the solo when my motivation dwindled at the 75% mark – if you’re anything like me, this is always where you start asking yourself ‘Why bother?’ or ‘What’s the point?’

Here is what I ended up doing to counteract that feeling and push for the last 25% (inconveniently the most difficult!) is awesome. I’ve been signed up to this service for a while and I use it when I have to do something I know is important, but don’t do/don’t want to do.

The site is a not for profit website formed by several Yale academics. The idea behind it is that:

1. People don’t always do what they claim they want to do, and
2. Incentives get people to do things

So when you want to do something (lose weight, eat better, make more money etc) you can make a commitment contract on the site. A commitment contract consists of three things – the bet size, the anti charity, and the goal.

You sign up with your credit card, and if you fail to win the bet or complete the contract, whatever money you’ve bet goes to an anti charity. An anti charity is an organisation you would loath giving money too – If you were pro-life, you would set the bet so that if you failed, the money went to a pro choice organisation.

For example, I set my stick goal to send €100 to the Manchester United Fan Club if I failed. Whenever I thought that I was too busy to practice the solo that day, I imagined handing over money to those Mancs and it spurred me on to finish what I set out to do!


Having money on the line, as well as a deadline, forced me to find the time to finish off this solo. My motivation had really staggered at 75% and the bet thankfully hauled me over the line. In fact, I would have kept going for another month or two, inefficiently messing around except for this bet. On deadline day, I thought I was nowhere near ready to record. I had no choice but to give it a shot, and although the solo isn’t 100% perfect, I realised that I would be fairly satisfied with 95% on any test score, so I let the few mistakes I made slide.

So there you have it – four months, three articles, one bet, one challenging solo and many small steps to learn it.

In truth, I feel like learning the solo only scratched the surface – I don’t really know exactly what was going on in the solo theory wise, and the next step would be to analyse it and steal ideas from the great Marty Friedman. That wasn’t part of the bet though – so for now I’ll just be satisfied with a well learned solo.


Check out here! It’s a great way to create motivation.

Burritos: The Greatest Ear Training Tool of Them All

How To Find The Key of Any Song By Ear.

Using Burritos.

“Can you taste it?”

I paused, burrito in hand, mouth open. Chris was fond of pulling pranks, but he hadn’t messed with my food. Yet.

“Taste what?”

Chris started laughing “Don’t worry, I didn’t jizz in it or anything. I just put some curry powder in, just to see what it tasted like.”

I took another bite of my burrito. There it was, an unmistakeable hint of curry. Like an ex-girlfriend at a party. It just shouldn’t have been there.

“Don’t quit your day job, Ramsey.”

Chris had just confirmed what I had already known for a long time. Bass players are just the worst.

Chris taught me a valuable lesson that day – Burritos taste weird with curry powder mixed in. When something is a little out in a burrito, you can taste it straight away, but only if you’re used to the particular flavours of a well made burrito. The same idea applies to finding the key of a song – You can find the key to any song, as long as you’re used to the flavour.

This article will show you a method of finding the key of a song by using just the guitar. No humming the tonic like a moron, no guesswork, just a system that uses the pentatonic scale. Also, with this system, you’ll be able to figure out the key of a song in 20 seconds or less.

Just a side note-this method is great for the more harmonically standard styles of music, like rock and pop and country, but it won’t work over jazz or classical music. (BUMMER DUDE)

This method has two steps: Find all possible places where four fret spaces sound consonant on the high e string, and play position 1 of the pentatonic in each of those.

Four fret spaces

Four fret spaces is just a term for me to describe the first two notes of the pentatonic scale. If we’re playing the A Minor Pentatonic scale, the notes on the high e string are 5 8, which have four frets contained in them (5, 6, 7, 8). Thus, we have four fret spaces.

When we don’t know the key of a song, we’ll use these four fret spaces to quickly identify potential candidates for the correct key.

If you look at the pentatonic scale in A Minor on a single string you get this:


If you look you can see two places that have these four fret spaces. Both of these four fret spaces have two notes, both which are consonant. See the diagram below.


Using this method we go from fumbling across the whole Fretboard looking for notes, to identifying two places on the high E string where these four fret spaces are consonant. Once we find these, we can decide which four fret space is pentatonic position one. We’ll talk more about this later, but for now all you have to know is that in any key, there are only two four fret spaces (there are four in the above diagram, but 17 20 is an octave of 58, 1215 is an octave of 03)on the high e string.  Also, only one of them will sound right when you play position 1 using them.

Identify the four fret spaces

To find the spaces, play all the possible four fret spaces chromatically, and identify the two positions that are consonant. Do this by going chromatically up the Fretboard: 0 3, 1 4, 2 5, 3 6, etc. I’m just going to throw out a broad definition for consonant here – They’re notes that sound good. I’ll cover this in more detail later.

(Note: you may find up to four of these four fret spaces initially, even without octaves. We’ll weed out the incorrect spaces later).

Play position one of the pentatonic.

Let’s continue with our original example. Let’s say we’ve identified the following four fret spaces, 5 8 and 12 15. All you do now is play position one of the pentatonic in each of these spaces. They will sound very similar, but one will have the unmistakable flavour of the pentatonic and the other will sound a little off. Like a taste of curry powder where there shouldn’t be.

Let’s see what that would look like.


The red highlighted notes are the notes that will sound out of key. Play with these two positions with any backing track in A Minor (YouTube it). The highlighted red notes just don’t sit right like the rest of the notes. The ability to quickly sense the notes that are incorrect is the essence of this technique.

Here’s a full example of this method. Let’s summarise this method before we begin:

1) Use the four fret spaces to locate the two places on the high e string where each note is consonant. Do this by chromatically by moving up the Fretboard: 0 3, 1 4, 2 5, 3 6 etc.

2) When you’ve located the two four fret spaces, play position one in each four fret space. They are only different by one note, as covered above. If you have trouble with this step you need to get used to the flavour of the pentatonic. (More on this later)

So, we’re listening to a song, and we don’t know what key it’s in. Let’s apply the method.

Step One: Play through all the four fret spaces on the high e string, listening out for the four fret spaces that are consonant*. Go up chromatically from 03 to 11 14. When you find four fret spaces where both notes sound correct, write it down. You should end up with 2 ideally, but you may end up with 4. Let’s say you end up with 5 8 and 12 15.

*What do I mean by consonant? I mean both notes sound like they are in key. If you play an F# in A Minor, it’ll sound bad, or out of key. I’m generalising here, and in certain contexts that F# would sound great, BUT when you’re playing the A Minor Pentatonic over an A Minor backing track, F# will sound BAD.

If you’re unsure of whether you understand this concept, try soloing with any song for a few minutes, without using any scales. Can you hear when you play a bum note that’s totally out of key? If you can, with practice this method will work well for you. If you can’t hear the bum notes, there’s help later on in this article.

Step Two: Play position one of the pentatonic on each of these four fret spaces.

Now you’ll have to decide which one of these is the correct key. The more you are used to the flavour of the pentatonic, the easier this will be. They will sound similar, but only one will sound just like the pentatonic should. Note the still highlighted tell tale notes.


Once you’ve decided which of these pentatonic position 1 is, you’ve found the key of your song.

This is the best method I have found for teaching students to find the key of a song in a very short amount of time. Often this method can be well mastered after about two weeks.

I doubt all of you will find it that easy, so here are some common issues and solutions

Common difficulties:

I’m not sure which notes are consonant/correct/good!

If you’re new to improvising this is common. The solution is to get used to the flavour of the pentatonic. Play with a backing track every day, using only position one of the pentatonic scale. It’s hard to hit a wrong note with the pentatonic scale. Soon you’ll hear any ‘out’ notes as loud as a gunshot. A basic way to do this is if the track is in A Minor, play the A Minor Pentatonic. B Minor, B Minor Pentatonic etc. Find millions of backing tracks on YouTube by searching for ‘A Minor Backing Track’ or any variations.

I can’t identify the four fret space notes…

This is usually down to speeding through the 0 3, 1 4, 2 5, 3 6, process. Play all these notes quickly one after another and it all sounds like one big mush.

Think of the correct key of the song as a big old ball of jelly. When you hear notes that are out of key, the ball is stretched. After the ball is stretched you need to let the ball return to its original shape.

Translation: leave 2-5 seconds between each playing of the four fret space. This will allow the key to adjust back to its original ‘shape’.

Should I use the high E string or the low E string?

You can use either, but I prefer the high E string. It is really clear whether the note is in or out.

I’ve identified the two four fret spaces, but I don’t know which one is position one

You’re not used to the flavour of the pentatonic yet. Play with one backing track a day, using position one of the pentatonic. Play with backing tracks in a Minor, and really listen to the highlighted notes in the below diagram. Those are the notes that tell you you’re in the wrong spot.

Like I talked about in the burrito example, you need to get used to the flavour of the classic burrito. It’s only when you know the flavour of a classic burrito inside out that you can tell the difference between a classic burrito and a burrito that is just a little bit off.

It’s the same with knowing the flavour of the pentatonic. You need to play the pentatonic with a backing track every day, so that when you’re listening to the pentatonic in very similar positions you can just feel that flavour difference and you’ll know which one is correct.

Action Steps:

1) Play with one backing track a day to get used to the flavour of the Pentatonic

2) Attempt to identify the key of one song you like a day. Give yourself a maximum of two play throughs of the song. Write down your best guess.

3) Sign up for my free ear training course. This course will guide you through everything I talked about in this article in greater detail. The only goal of this course is to be able to identify the key of any song in seconds.

Let’s face it, finding the key of any song is a huge part of any soloists ability. It just can’t be covered in a series of articles, so I invite you to take part in the course here.

What a Stanford Experimental Psychologist Can Teach You About Playing Guitar Solos

How to Learn Any Solo Part 1

“Why don’t you just F**K OFF.”

My computer screen had frozen for half a second, and I thought insulting my poor battered red HP laptop would make it obey my commands quicker.

I wasn’t really mad at the computer-my latest decision to learn a guitar solo note for note was blowing up in my face. I had decided to get the first half of the solo down in three hours – no problem for an experienced player like me, or so I thought. I soon realised this was a 40 bar beast that did not want to be tamed .I decided to take a 15 minute break, which turned into 30 minutes, a day, a week and I soon forgot all about the solo

By forgetting all about my original goal of learning the solo, my ego was doing its best to limit the damage this solo was doing to my self confidence. Sadly, my ego had turned me into a bragging five-year-old on a playground. I could do it; I just didn’t feel like it right now. Not one of my more productive phases of musical learning.

Today (24/04/2013) I am more than 50% of the way through learning my favourite solo of all time-Tornado of Souls by Megadeth

The tactics I use (I’ll get to these later) haven’t changed – but my strategy has changed dramatically. My strategy for learning solos now has two main components: Rigging the game, and baby steps.

Baby steps

“Seriously though, how long should I practice this week?”

David had the look students sometimes get when they are absolutely determined to master an aspect of guitar playing. It’s not too dissimilar to the look someone has when they’re constipated.

“Let’s start with four minutes”

“I can do more than four minutes; shouldn’t I go for an hour every day?”

It was hard for me not to roll my eyes up at this point “Let’s work up to that. For this week, let’s start small. I want you to practice for four minutes every day. You can do more if you want, but the minimum is four minutes.”

Am I attempting to commit guitar teacher suicide by convincing my students to practice less? You would think so, but I’m actually trying to emulate the teachings of BJ Fogg, an experimental psychologist in Stanford specialising in behavioural change.

Long term gains vs Short term gains

BJ has a phrase “believe in baby steps”. After working with hundreds of people in his behavioural change course, he’s seen that the smaller the commitment to a new habit, the higher the permanent adoption rate. Instead of attempting to do 50 push ups a day, do one a day. The psychology behind this is that the sooner you feel like you’ve accomplished something, the higher the chance you’ll continue the habit. Anyone can do one push of a day. In a week, increasing to 2, then three, four and so on. It may not seem like much at first, but long-term, you’ll have developed a habit that is positive for you.

The problem with choosing big goals first is the excuse factor – if you say you’ll practice guitar for an hour a day, you automatically create the excuse that you don’t have the time. That’s why I recommend my students practice initially only four minutes a day. No-one is going to make big progress with four minutes a day, but it’s easy to commit to 4 minutes a day. Long-term, the habit of all good and great players as being instilled: consistent, daily practice.

The question boils down to this: Would you like to actually do one push up every day, or would you rather dream of doing 50 push ups a day?

Or rephrased for guitarists: would you like to actually play guitar for five minutes a day, or dream of doing an hour’s practice every day?

Let’s assume we’re going to commit to playing just a little bit every day. We now have an easy, low pressure way of picking up the guitar and everyday making a little bit of progress. The next thing we need to do is make sure that the few minutes we spend playing the guitar are useful – in this specific case, we want to learn new material and challenge ourselves in a  sustainable way. So we need to rig the game in our favour.


Do I really only learn one bar a day?

If the bar is complex, yes. If there is an easy few bars and I have time, I get those few bars. The goal is to learn the solo by taking baby steps.

Shouldn’t I learn to play by ear?

Playing by ear and learning to transcribe are excellent skills to have, but they are not the goal here. We want to learn a solo. If you want to develop those skills, why not transcribe one bar a day?

Won’t this take forever?

An 80 bar solo will technically take 80 days to learn, and that’s if you don’t miss any days. After two weeks jump to two bars a day and an 80 bar solo will only take 40 days!

I have another response to that question: would you rather learn the solo over 80 days, or dream of learning it in a week? We’re rigging the game in our favour, and over a year you’re now learning four 80 bar solos. Over time, you’ll get faster learning solos, and in two years, who’s better off: the player with 12 new complex solos under his belt, or the player who has a few simple, half learned solos? For me it’s the former.

How does this method work for you? Have you started a new small habit that’s going to work for you long term? Let me know in the comments.