Your Own Personal Kung Fu Training Montage

File under: Guitar Practice Tips

Tank jacks Neo into the Matrix, inserts a Kung Fu program and downloads the whole thing into Neo’s brain. Morpheus walks up, and Neo exclaims: “I know kung fu.” They then duke it out in a kung fu battle for the ages as Neo learns to believe in his new-found Kung Fu Power.

Panda gets caught stealing some cookies ten feet up in the air and his shifu recognizes the skill that theft required. Suddenly, Master and Pupil come together in a rapid-cut sequence of Kung Fu training that turns the tubby Panda into a fumbling stumbling paradox of Kung Fu mastery and buffoonery.

Mr. Miyagi breaks up a fight between Daniel Larusso and the Cobra Kai, who disrespect the art of karate. Mr. Miyagi consents to train Daniel, and the first thing he has Daniel do is…paint a fence. Then he sands a floor, paints the house, washes the cars…and once his frustration explodes beyond the boiling point, Mr. Miyagi reveals the secret techniques hidden in the menial chores he’s had Daniel perform in specific ways. Daniel goes on to dominate the Cobra Kai in the big karate tournament.

Every day, when you sit down to practice, you’re enacting your own dynamic Kung Fu Training Montage.

It’s easy to miss this, because you’re there alone most of the time. There’s no wizened whiskered Martial Arts Master watching your every move.

You, your guitar, your hands — and the music you’re learning.

This is the secret — can you learn to infuse your practice moments with the same thrilling soundtrack and triumphant crescendos that make the Martial Art Training Sequences the best parts of these world famous movies?

My practice has been cooking over the past month. Huge leaps off one plateau and onto the next one. Deeper fluency. Faster capabilities absorbing into my fingers.

Each day, each session — we’re creating our own Kung Fu Training Montage as we practice the guitar.

Learn from Daniel Larusso — don’t be a whiny baby just because you don’t realize your boring daily grind is actually You vs. Your Kung Fu Master duking it out like twin tornadoes of kung fu destiny.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tau

Onward, guitar friends,

Matt Coffman

Facebook vs. Your Guitar

File under: Guitar Fundamentals

This one time, I logged onto Facebook.

When I arrived at my timeline, I saw a bunch of posts by people I know to varying degrees of “well.”

Wow, looks like some of them have eaten lunch recently.

Oh, and one of them is at a beach on vacation.

Another one has a cute picture of his kids doing cute things.

Someone posted a political article arguing for or against something I’m for or against.

Amazing!

You know what I’ve noticed?

I’ve never ever seen a Facebook post of someone practicing their craft.

The hard work happens behind closed doors, beyond the prying eyes of the Facebook timeline.

So where do you spend the majority of your time? In clear view goofing off?

Or behind closed doors obeying the Law of Practice?

—Matt Coffman

I Need Your Help

File under: Guitar Learning

This past Tuesday, I sat in for a lesson with a guy I’m learning electric lead playing from.

The content shared was fantastic — he threw down some fantastic exercises and licks I can learn that will help me move ever more fluidly around the neck.

Only one issue: there was almost no structure to the lesson whatsoever. It was just a scattershot blast of all kinds of different things. Luckily, I already knew how this guy approaches “teaching,” so I had my video camera and digital audio recorder in hand and captured all the most important parts.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is: I now need to comb through all the material, distill it down to the core moves, exercises and licks that I want to work on, and I then need to figure out a way to attack them systematically so they actually absorb into my playing.

So, a question for you: how do you manage all the new information you’re taking in as a guitarist?

Do you have a system for making sure you stay on top of all the different stuff you’re working on?

What works best for you in terms of taking what you learn from lessons, books, videos, YouTube, etc. and then making it systematic in a way that you can study and master over time?

I’m an avid student of the learning process. And I think I have one of the most powerful rapid learning methods I’ve ever heard about anywhere. I’ve incorporated techniques, systems, technology and approaches from all kinds of places – martial arts training, all my guitar teachers, university courses, books, online courses, etc. etc.

But I’m always hungry to figure out even better ways to go about learning huge swaths of knowledge.

So, would you mind sharing with me? What works best for you when it comes to assimilating and mastering large amounts of guitar material?

I’m all ears right here. Hit me up at my contact form and let me know.

—Matt Coffman

The Meaning of Life in 32 Words

File under: Musical Inspiration

A few years back, I spent an extended period in the Woodshed practicing 8+ hours a day honing my musical craft.

It was one of the most amazing times of my life.

Lots of stories came out of that time, and there were many bleak moments when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed veeerrrrry far away.

During that time, I came across a simple quote from one of the greatest musicians and composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven.

This quote flashed like a spotlight in the darkness and carried through many of the downs that accompanied my deep journey into music and the guitar.

Since it helped me so much, I wanted to share it with you guys in case you need a little pick-me-up today or any other day.

In 32 words, I think Beethoven nails the whole “meaning of life” thing. Not an easy thing to do if you ask me.

Here is the quote:

“Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us, and never stop learning.”

Broken down, here’s the Beethoven Recipe for Human Happiness and Meaning:

1. Do what is right.
2. Strive (with all your might) toward the unattainable.
3. Develop your God-given gifts as fully as you can.
4. Never stop learning.

As far as 32-word life philosophies go, I challenge you to come up with a better one.

Here’s to you steering your life in the direction of those four principles each and every day,

–Matt Coffman

How to Respond to Having Your A$$ Handed to You Musically

File under: Guitar Fundamentals

Yesterday, I told you about a gig I played in Friday night and how I basically stunk up the stage.

No one else present (except any actual musicians 😉 would say I played poorly, but I’ve been wending my way through the six-string wilderness for over 20 years now, and trust me, I did not play up to my standards.

So, what to do?

Simple: I called up a good friend of mine who happens to be one of the most in-demand electric lead players in Nashville.

I scheduled a lesson.

And yesterday, I went to the lesson. Thanks to the hard lessons I received while onstage Friday night, I had a VERY good sense of what I wanted to work on.

So, I walked into the lesson with a clear game plan. I told my friend/teacher what I wanted to work on.

I filmed the lesson to make sure I could go back over it later.

After I got home, I took the video and edited it down.

Then, I split off the audio so I can run through some of the exercises and workouts over and over using the Amazing Slow Downer. Interval training for guitar – one of the secrets for whipping your playing into shape in a hurry.

When you learn something about your playing, good or bad, it’s vital to take immediate action. Just a few days after the lackluster gig in question, I’m already implementing what I learned so it doesn’t happen again.

If I hadn’t agreed to throw myself into an unfamiliar situation where I was playing music I don’t know that well with a group I don’t play with that much, I would never have gotten to experience the extreme frustration that led me to set this lesson up, gather yet more good gold for my practice, and continue forward on my climb up Guitar Mountain.

So that’s how I’m responding to this particular musical challenge.

Just trying to be open and transparent with you guys: the process of learning to play the guitar as well as you want ain’t all puppies and kittens. Sometimes, there are tough lessons, frustration, confusion, and the urge to quit and just watch TV instead.

How you respond to the frustration and temptation to quit when it arises has as much to do with your eventual success as anything.

Here’s to you always picking yourself up and dusting yourself off whenever times get tough.

As the saying goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

—Matt Coffman

Matt Coffman, String Love Guitar
Matt Coffman
Guitarist • Guitar Teacher
Author • Change Agent

What My Students Are Saying

In the past six years, with Matt’s superior help, I have accomplished more than I ever felt would be possible.

Scott Lindsley
student, age 57

Matt is a dedicated and thoughtful teacher. His love for the guitar is apparent every time we have a lesson and he is great at transferring his love and knowledge of the guitar to his students. I highly recommend him!

Ryan Harding
student for four years

Matt Coffman is by far the best guitar teacher I have ever worked with.

Fiona Culley
student

I’ve been taking lessons from Matt for 6 years now.

I’ve grown in my playing more than I ever thought possible. Before long I had surpassed my original goals that I had hoped to achieve from taking lessons and had to come up with new ones.

I’ve developed fingerstyle skills that I didn’t know existed before starting lessons. I’ve gained a much better understanding of music theory and song structure. I’ve learned very diverse styles from classical, blues, Brazillian, and folk that lead to greater possibilities in my own playing and writing.

Most importantly I’ve been given the tools to grow through a practice method that guarantees results.

I always look forward to lesson times as they’ve remained fun and interesting as well as challenging continuously since the first lesson. I’ve had a great experience taking lessons from Matt and look forward to learning even more.

Andrew Mornout
student for 6+ years

I have wanted to play the guitar my whole life and I pretty much thought it was too late to learn – not true! I am so lucky to have found Matt.

Allison T.
guitar student

Matt has been an awesome guitar teacher.

I started taking lessons from him in March of 2009. From the first lesson it was very evident that he cares about his students and getting them to the level of skill that they want.

Aletha Moore
student

Matt has an excellent approach to teaching.

He doesn’t just teach you to memorize a song, he teaches you to understand the building blocks of that song.

That understanding translates into the ability to take those same building blocks and apply them to the mechanics of other songs. Therefore, he teaches you music, not memorization.

Brian Wilson
student for 4+ years

These are the best guitar lessons I have ever taken and I have been playing for over 30 years.

Matt has taught me the correct way to practice and how to think about my playing. In such a short time, he has really improved my ability to play difficult passages. Matt is a very patient teacher and a good listener. He pointed out issues in my playing that I wasn’t even aware of.

Julie Tissue
student

Matt is my third guitar instructor.

All were good experienced teachers, but Matt is the only one that kept me going long enough to make significant progress. Matt is a very accomplished guitarist, but while he was learning he was also studying effective teaching techniques and methods. If you watch the video lessons on his website, you can get a feel for how well he uses these skills.

Jim Scarborough
student for 4+ years