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Ryan Flaherty on Better Training Through Simplicity


Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!


“Don’t buy complexity; the simpler you make your training, the better the results become.”

Ryan Flaherty


“Bright shiny object syndrome” can distract us from doing what will help us improve at guitar.

When we skim the surface, we may become bored. When we get the basic gist (i.e. the notes) we falsely believe there’s nothing more to see. So we hop to the next piece of music or exercise. Over time we choose more and more complex pieces and exercises.

The outcome is that we find ourselves playing complex pieces in a mediocre way. We know that something is missing, but don’t know what it is. So we charge ahead with the next piece. We’re sure that things will work themselves out and one day we’ll play beautifully.

But if we recognize and drill the fundamentals, we get better results.

One simple scale is all we need to practice smoothly connecting notes. A few simple right-hand patterns can prepare us for every other pattern we’ll likely encounter in music.

The top 1% of 1% of 1% go deep with a few simple exercises. It’s the amateurs busying themselves with endless new distractions.

This is why Bruce Lee famously said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

And this is why legendary strength coach Charles Paloquin said “The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”

Depth beats breadth.

When we ask less “what” and more “how”, we build skills faster and enjoy practice more. We see more improvement and meet the challenges that pull us ever forward.








Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 


I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.




Since a year ago with my subscription to CGS it has been for me a pleasurable adventure and a discovery of all the facets of the classical guitar.
Your dedication and enthusiasm, as well as your talent, in the tuition is quite contagious (well, lets hope also for your talent) and has made it fun and useful in my progression. Also the weekly tip that you mail us and the Facebook group is excellent.


-Michel Donnet

Hello Allen,
I feel my guitar proficiency is improving considerably. Every day I’m exceedingly comfortable with my right hand technique and overall fluency. And my sight-reading has improved as well. Thank you for creating the Woodshed. It’s thoughtful construction and scope and sequence of knowledge and skills has advanced my guitar skills significantly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


-Michael Immel



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