ryan flaherty guitar practice
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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.


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

Ryan Flaherty




allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.


-Peter Buck, R.E.M.

I think the program levels are a great way to teach the guitar. I have had several teachers over the past few years and none came close to the structured organization that you have put together.


-Peter Marior


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