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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 stellar teachers – one focused on the technical, 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.




I am a 61 year old physician, reconnecting with the classical guitar after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. After a couple of weeks [in the program], I’m now producing a much clearer, yet somehow more mellow and beautiful sound. It was really good to feel it happening in my hand, and that it felt more comfortable and somehow “right”, compared to the way I had played before (“curved picking”). The fog started to lift and I found that I was remembering more, and it felt great (also a bit of a relief!), giving me confidence to keep going. Thank you for making your course available - your love of music and the guitar shines through the teaching. I am very happy I found and registered with CGS.


-Brian Davey

These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.  

You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!


-Ulysses Alexandre Alves



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Charles Poliquin

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