Introducing: The Woodshed, a step-by-step classical guitar program
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve enjoyed my emails, articles or videos. So first, thanks for reading! I hope they’ve helped your playing.
I love using them to communicate isolated ideas (and to geek out over niche topics).
Yet...subscribers requested a guide that takes them through each step of learning classical guitar. That’s why I’ve built The Woodshed. If my weekly lessons are bite-sized snacks, this is the 5-course orchestrated feast.
The course format means we can start at the very basics. You’ll be shown one concept at a time, how to practice, and what the next steps are.
A structured foundation of technique, reading and patterns
What most students want is to spend evenings lost in some Bach...a relaxed hobby to enjoy with a glass of wine.
They know it takes work, and are motivated to practice. Yet, YouTube teachers are declaring we ‘must’ master these techniques, scales, rhythms, reading, chords, arpeggios and more. With a million things to learn, it’s now a chore, not a hobby.
Now, I won’t pretend it’s easy.
You can’t really “become a guitar god overnight in 3 easy steps....”. Unlike strumming Beatles tunes, classical guitar requires a good amount of sweat. (But let’s avoid the blood and tears, ok?)
With a methodical approach, you can make steady progress instead of spinning your wheels. To make it all digestible, I’ve split my course into three key areas. These are:
Technique - Move your fingers quickly & comfortably
Reading - Decipher the notes on the page onto the guitar
Patterns - See the big picture, not thinking note-by-note
The Woodshed starts each of these at the very basics. It doesn’t assume any prior knowledge on your part. For self-taught guitarists, this is a chance to ensure bad habits aren’t holding you back.
You go step-by-step in all the crucial skills. Each skill area builds progressively.
This might be learning to play a rhythm, or using a new technique to play a right-hand pattern. We then tie the lessons together to ensure they’re useful, not just random ideas and concepts.
To use these growing skills, I’ve written completely customized pieces. These only use what you’ve learnt so far. It allows you to play beautiful songs from Lesson #1 that don’t require any unknown techniques.
The Woodshed might not turn you into the next Andre Segovia [or insert your favorite guitarist here]. But you will certainly breeze through pieces you previously thought impossible.
Featuring over 1,000 videos organized to keep you focused on what matters most
When building The Woodshed, I wanted thorough yet structured resources.Yes, you’ll gain access to a huge amount of material. But I won’t just pour it out for you to wade through.
The program is arranged into short micro-levels. Each is a mini-series of 2-20min lessons and practice videos. These bring you forward in each of the 6 key areas of classical guitar:
Lessons will take you one small step at a time.You’ll be shown one technique, rhythm idea, or collection of notes to read. That way you can internalize each concept and skill. Clear, focused practice without the overwhelm.
Plus, you get access to all the extra skills and repertoire courses. You can explore more music, and plug any holes you perceive in your playing.
Get your fingers moving quickly, clearly and comfortably
(even if your joints are getting creaky)
You might be worried that your age or health means you’ll never be able to play those speedy passage. Of course, I’m going to tell you, “It’s all in the technique”. Once you’ve learned how to use your hands efficiently, your fingers will fly across the strings.
You’ve probably seen one of my technique videos, but The Woodshed will cover every essential detail. I’ll break techniques down into three parts.
Form - The relationship of your joints and how to hold your hands to make those stretches..
Position - Where you hold those forms, e.g. over the sound hole, to produce a rich tone.
Movement - How to efficiently move your body to play a note, so you add speed without discomfort.
You’ll discover you’re surprisingly dextrous. With good technique your playing turns from mere notes into real music.
For self-taught players, this allows you to further refine your technique. By removing bad habits, you’ll suddenly be able to play those fast passages without any dead notes.
“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."
Build up your sight-reading abilities one aspect at a time
I know sheet music can look like martian hieroglyphics. That’s why we’ll decipher one symbol at a time.
The dedicated sight-reading videos are split into notes and rhythms.
Each note-focused lesson will introduce just a few new notes. You’ll build up ability to instantly translate any note onto the guitar. Soon you’ll be at home anywhere on the fretboard. This means you’ll learn pieces faster, and be able to explore more new music.
The specialized rhythm lessons let you embody all the most common musical rhythms. You’ll come to recognize rhythms like you do old friends, with a sense of easy appreciation.
Understand music’s common building blocks and patterns
Composers don’t like admitting this…but most tunes are made up of a limited set of ideas. Once you recognize them, sequences give you a feeling like: “Oh, it’s just a ___!”
The lessons in The Woodshed will take you step-by-step through these concepts.
You’ll learn how the “cowboy chords” in folk and rock songs apply to classical guitar. You’ll then see how passages in classical pieces are often the notes of these chords plucked individually. (It almost feels like cheating).
It’s like learning to read whole words instead of sounding out “a-p-p-l-e”. By recognizing whole phrases, you’ll play new pieces more quickly and easily.
“I would just like to say that I'm really enjoying this course. I no longer feel (a.) That it’s a struggle to learn, and (b.) That I am alone in my endeavours. This is down to the structure of the course and your natural ability to communicate clearly. The course has not only taught me a piece, you are teaching me a whole lot about music - from notation and reading through to a deeper understanding of what music is. I cannot recommend your program highly enough."
Hear instant warmth in your tone,
followed by gradual improvements in fluidity
You can also expect to hear big improvements in a matter of days. It’s like adjusting the color on an old TV: suddenly everything's just better.
These basics go a long way towards beautiful music flowing out of your guitar.
After these (very satisfying) easy wins, come more subtle signs of progress. Over weeks and months, dead notes or big stretches will stop bothering you. You’ll breeze through more intricate pieces. You’ll move more gracefully and enjoy the feeling of using your hands.
It’s these audible signs of progress that make practice so satisfying. And The Woodshed will let you hear them, from the very first lesson, and in each going forward.
“These videos taught me the hand techniques I should have been using all along. And for the first time I am hearing the “luscious” sounds you described. Thanks for a great program and helping me finally find the right foundation!”
Know exactly what and how to practice, with play-along practice videos
You won’t be sent off with an “Okay, go find a way to practice that!” after each lesson.
I know it can be hard to decide what to actually do when you sit down to practice. Maybe it stops you from even starting.
That’s why every lesson has guided play-along practice videos. They'll guide you through exactly what pattern, rhythm, or technique you should be using at each point and how to combine them.
You can follow the exercise, happy that your new skills are being reinforced in a methodical manner.
Detailed Practice Logs, to Keep You Organized
To track your progress, each micro-level has it’s own practice log, which also acts as a syllabus.
The practice log will tell you exactly what to practice, so that you can get directly to work and stay on track. With clear benchmarks included, you can self-assess and know precisely when you’re ready to move on to the next level.
"I know what a masterful musician and skilled teacher he is. Using the Woodshed I’m able to access Allen’s knowledge anytime I want. I especially like using the Video Library where I can select a technique….say, an arpeggio pattern, a scale shape or sight-reading….and then watch the lesson and play along. The explanations are concise, the images are clear and the videos are short enough so that it’s easy to maintain focus. They’re great for learning new techniques and are equally useful for refreshing lessons previously learned. And because the site is so comprehensive and easy to navigate I find myself going to it almost every day."
Gain a whole support network for your passion
The aim might be evenings lost in your playing, but it’s also fun to share your enthusiasm or have help when you’re stuck.
ANYTIME EMAIL SUPPORT - You get unlimited email support. You can send a quick question and get an answer, usually within 24 hours.
PERSONAL VIDEO REVIEW - You can share videos with me privately, and I will share my thoughts on what’s working and what your next steps may be. Be at ease, instructions are included!
FREE PRIVATE VIDEO CALLS - Sometimes we need that little nudge to get our head around an issue. So I’ve included 1-on-1 Skype calls as part of your membership.You can schedule sessions online. Then, by the miracles of technology, we can check in and see how it’s all going.We can look at the technique that isn’t feeling right, passages you’re struggling with, concepts that aren’t clicking or any other questions.
MEMBER’S PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP - Your family might not appreciate you showing them endless guitar videos. That’s why you’ll be part of a private online community of fellow guitarists.
You can share your progress, interesting articles, or favourite recordings. Or you can just browse what others share. Now you won’t be alone in your guitar-learning journey. Instead, you can be inspired and (if you like) inspiring!
The Woodshed is comprehensive, systematically organized, easy to understand, easy to navigate, and reasonably priced. However, you are not alone in the Woodshed. It is much more than self-instruction. It's like having an instructor working with you every day. Allen’s teaching style in the videos and text is clear and concise. He responds promptly to questions emailed to him. He will review video of your playing and provide prompt and thoughtful assessment of your playing at any given stage in your progression. Most importantly, all of his instruction is focused on teaching you to bring out the full potential of each song you play – in other words he teaches you to “play beautifully”. I entered The Woodshed about 6 months ago and I haven’t been disappointed in the decision.
The Woodshed is not for everyone. You can be a beginner or advanced, but it also needs to be a good fit for you.
100% Satisfaction or your money back
I want every member of The Woodshed to be completely happy with their membership.
If you feel it’s not the best place for you, simply email be for an immediate 100% refund.
But just a refund isn't enough. In addition you can also choose any premium course to keep at no extra charge.
At the worst case, you’ll learn some new skills without spending a penny. So, what’s stopping you?
How to join The Woodshed
Here is what you’ll receive as part of your membership:
Unlimited access to The Woodshed Program, to take you from fundamentals through to expert guitarist
Unlimited access to The Woodshed Library, with over 1000 instructional and play-along videos, so you always know what and how to practice new skills
Full access to all 33+ premium courses, taking you through specific skills and repertoire
Custom pieces, written to only use the material and techniques you’ve learned so far while still sounding beautiful
Printable practice logs, to track your progress and tell you exactly when you’re ready for the next level
Evaluation tools, so you can keep track of your successes and reflect on your practice habits
Access to all new videos I upload, so you can make use of all my constantly updated material
Free video calls with me, so we can talk through any stumbling blocks you’ve encountered
Access to the private Facebook group, where you can connect with others with the same interests, and share in progress and enthusiasm
Email support, for when you have small questions about your playing or practice
Personal video review, for when you’d like to make sure you’re doing everything right
I’m a retired teacher who just started learning guitar last year. I watched countless Youtube videos and surfed the web trying to learn, but became overwhelmed. I bounced from one thing to another and never saw much improvement. I liked Allen’s videos and site, so I decided to try The Woodshed. I’m on a fixed income, so it was no small decision. I’m glad I took the chance. From the start I felt like I sounded better. I identified some things I was doing that hurt my hands, and fixed them. Now my hands feel great. My wife tells me all the time how much better my practices sound. I have pieces that I play every day, and love how they keep getting better. I’m completely pleased with The Woodshed and would highly recommend it to anyone learning classical guitar.
No Contracts, Stay as Long as You Like. All On-Demand and Self-Paced.
Yes, you get full access to The Woodshed Practice Video Library and step-by-step program, as well as access to all courses available on CGS. There is currently nothing off-limits to members.
After you click through to the checkout and join, you'll get an email with your login information. If you're already a logged in user, you'll have immediate access. Over the next few days, you'll get emails suggesting how to get started and oriented within the site. You can login and explore anytime.
If you have any troubles getting started, simply email me and I'll help you through it.
The Woodshed is laid out very intuitively, like a dashboard, so you can easily find what you need. If you use the step-by-step "levels" system, everything you need will be in one place. You'll have specially-designed practice routines that provide well-rounded practice sessions.
If you ever get lost, you can email anytime and get help.
Yes. You need no previous experience to use The Woodshed. You start from square one, and build your skills atop one another. As a beginner, you'll be able to practice with direction and purpose.
The Woodshed contains two main areas: technique and musicality. If you'd like to refine the way your hands move, be more graceful, and avoid injury, good technique will give you that.
If you enjoy playing pieces, you'll learn how to play music so that it communicates emotionally and sounds beautiful. You'll learn how to learn music and practice effectively. And you'll delve deeper into pieces than you ever have before. There's a whole world of music that you may not be aware of, and through the CGS courses in The Woodshed, you'll understand and explore music in new ways.
While some methods or programs view progress as moving from one song to another, The Woodshed is different. “Progress” here means you:
Learning classical guitar involves 3 main skills:
The Woodshed addresses all three of these areas. You’ll focus on technique (how you move your fingers) separately from learning pieces of music.
You work on technique one element at a time, so you fully understand and “get it”. And you’ll be guided through pieces of music and shown how to practice, how to solve problems, and how to play expressively and beautifully.
Combined, it’s a well-rounded system that will help you progress quickly and enjoyably.
The Woodshed is very intuitively organized and laid out. You can start with the "Start Here" link on The Woodshed Homepage.
When it comes to the levels, I recommend everyone start at the very beginning, and work through the levels each in turn, regardless of your current ability level,
This is so you gain the underlying principles and concepts on which the entire method is built.
You will likely move more quickly through some areas than others, based on your current abilities.
But in the process of going through the material from the beginning, you may find "holes" in your playing that you weren’t even aware of. These holes are often where we can make the most improvement most quickly.
In addition to all the one-of-a-kind learning materials and step-by-step program in The Woodshed, you also get access to all the premium courses sold on CGS.
So as a member, you can access all the lessons in all the courses. If one interests you (such as the reading higher positions), dive right in. This also means you can dig around and try courses out, even if you don't fully commit to them in the end.
If/when you end your membership, you also end access to all the courses. Very much like Netflix, or membership to a gym. If you want to keep a course forever, you are welcome to purchase it. But that's not really necessary unless you cancel your membership.
Most members play as a hobby, with no plans to make guitar anything but an enjoyable personal pursuit. The materials in The Woodshed start at the very beginning, and build from there. You need no prior knowledge or skills to get started.
I am actively working on a strategy whereby the site will continue indefinitely without interruption. I want my hard work to stay available as long as possible, and am putting processes in place to ensure that this happens.
At this time, there are no discount codes available for membership in The Woodshed. The coupon/discount code field on the checkout page is a default function, and does not imply availability.
Did I miss something? Please feel free to ask anything. Click here for the Contact Page.
Simple. You can cancel anytime and get a refund if you like. PLUS: you can choose any premium course to keep, just for giving The Woodshed a try. Simply email me, say you want a refund and let me know which course you'd like to keep. I'll refund your money, and grant you lifetime access to the course of your choice.
Most other sites just tell you how to do something and leave you to it. The Woodshed takes you moment by moment through your practice and does each exercise right along with you (via practice-along videos) so you can mirror the movements and repeatedly compare what you see on the screen with what you see your own hands doing. This speeds up learning considerably.
Also, The Woodshed has the highest quality video and practice materials available, combined with other cutting-edge and well-researched learning and practice methods. The Woodshed is organized and clean, and you have personal support whenever you need it, via free Skype/Facetime sessions, email, and video review.
No other site (that I've seen) offers anything like it.
Sure, there are probably better teachers out there, but I do dedicate my life and my days to (1.) mastering the craft of classical guitar, my mind, and my body; and (2.) studying and practicing the art of communicating what I find in ways that you can understand and use them.
As far as credentials, I have a B.A. in classical guitar performance, and have held teaching positions at Reed College (Portland, OR) and at Lewis and Clark College (also Portland, OR). And I've taught classical guitar lessons full time since 2005. I continue my education through regular musical coaching with a world-renown concert pianist, as well as workshops and self-study focused on teaching/learning methods and the principles of mastery.
I love teaching, and I love music, and I constantly strive to get better at both. I'd love to work with you, and will do my best to help in any way I can.
Absolutely. Everything you need will work well on any screen.
If you start with the monthly or yearly membership and would like to upgrade, simply go ahead and purchase the yearly membership.
After you do, email me and let me know that you're upgrading. I will cancel the first membership and refund your current month's payment (if appropriate).
Many of the members in The Woodshed are seniors. You're in good company.
The Woodshed was designed to keep joints and connective tissues safe and healthy, and to help you avoid stress injuries and pain. The levels go step by step, and everything is very intuitively organized and laid out.
And if you ever have any questions, you can always contact me.
There’s a whole lot more to The Woodshed than just the courses. While you do get access to all the courses, there is also
What you see on the public site is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you play with your right hand fingers, instead of a pick, then any work you do to gain classical guitar technique will directly transfer to any other style.
Classical guitar technique will also protect your hands and wrists from injury and pain.
Classical guitar technique is simply the study of how to play the guitar well. So you can use it for any style or genre, not just classical guitar music.
Yes, you choose the pace. All the resources in The Woodshed are on-demand and self-paced. There are no deadlines, so you can progress as quickly or slowly as you wish.
The technique training goes step by step, and you can spend as much time as you need on each step.
The pieces (tunes) are broken up into small sections, and we go through each separately. Because it's meant to be useful for a broad spectrum of ability-levels, some of the concepts may be confusing at first. If you encounter anything that seems advanced, feel free to just ignore it. You can always come back later if you want to.
Currently, the biggest weakness is the community aspect.
Personally, social media and forums aren’t really “my thing”, so I haven’t put much energy into this area.
My main love is learning and teaching, and connecting one-on-one with people. So my focus is mainly on developing materials and teaching.
That said, there is a near constant conversation going in the private group, and many people contribute.
Payments go through Stripe, which is very widely used online, and fully secure. I personally do not have access to your credit card information. Also, ClassicalGuitarShed.com is a secure site. You can see the padlock icon in the search bar of your browser, as well as "HTTPS" in the URL (the "s" stands for "secure"; non-secure sites use HTTP).
Yes, with the monthly or yearly membership, you automatically get access to everything offered on the entire site, now and in the future, so long as you have an active membership.
I'd love to help you in any way I can. Guitar is my life's work, and it's my greatest joy to see you enjoying it as well.
As you practice and deepen into your work on the guitar, I hope you experience the satisfaction, peace, and sense of accomplishment that comes from a well-structured daily practice. Some days it's exciting; others it's like a meditation.
Of course some days are hard, too. But playing classical guitar is a relationship. And relationships bring on numerous emotions, experiences, trials and rewards.
Good luck! I'm excited for you!