I placed my D 12-20 in a closet back in 1976 and closed the closet door after having spent three years with "a ragtime rodeo" playing up-and-down the east coast of the USA.
Fast forward to 2011 or so. My day job was about to end (sold the company in. 2014) and I needed more than just a diversion. I needed to find a new purpose- to refocus, not retire.
I ran into a monster guitarist that year. (Matt Smith really was a founding member of the Monstas). I heard Matt play finger style one night I was hooked I asked him for his help. And man over the last seven years I've received more than just a few pointers. I've learned my craft, and furthermore I received a new purpose, a new focus.
Matt started me from the very bottom- he's a REAL teacher. And as all great teachers will do he met me at my beginning, not his; mine. Tempo first then a little theory, more tempo, then more concepts like "embrace the audience bring them to you” and "play behind the beat."
Matt has personal theory galore. One being "A chord progression is only learned correctly after it becomes a part of a song-your song". I was challenged to write.
Well 28 songs and two CD's later I've incorporated Matt's guidance into a one-man one hour show-yeah real live theater piece. 12 original tunes and five movements that tells my life story.
Talk about refocus! The theater is wonderful, and the song is such a joy, and the results of all of this has been a bonanza for several charities here in Texas: Austin Classical Guitar, the North Austin Foundation, ACC, Phoenix house… Even played my first completed one man show in Gatesville women's prison. (A Guru Named Frank-Go to YouTube)
Matt Smith and Beal Cayman are now in partnership. A Six String Ranch is born. Behold a warehouse of all things creative-of all things creative wrapped up in a six spring box. Musical connections and musical education from recording to writing and anything musical in between.
Come see. Come create.
See ya around the Ranch.
-John Henry McDonald.
There really aren’t words to express how happy/pleased/thrilled/honored I was to spend the day with you at Six String Ranch recording the the Frank Hill project yesterday. I’ve been in a lot of recording studios in my life, many costing much, much more per hour, but I’ve never experienced a more pleasant, inspiring and beautifully outfitted environment for making music. The physical space(s), equipment and AMAZING array of musical instruments available are sublime…and an incredible value for any artist/customer. AND all of that doesn’t begin to touch the inestimable value of having YOU as the engineer and guru in the sessions. Your demeanor, mad skills and positive energy made it one of the best creative experiences I can recall…and I have a good memory!
You taught me in 1985 from scratch. Eat A Damn Good Breakfast Everyday was my first lesson. I've since then had a top ten record in Germany, and I have a guitar in the European Rock and Pop Museum. It's all your fault!!!! - Bryce Johnson
Studied with Matt at NGW several times. He really knows his stuff and can impart his knowledge to beginners and advanced players alike. Check out his book Chop Shop if you don't believe me! - Jim Holland
Matt Smith takes complicated theories and breaks it down to a level that everyone can understand. He makes learning fun and has great interaction between students and teacher. I have taken several multi-day seminars taught by Matt and have left every one feeling more enriched with good techniques and theory that has taken my level of playing up a notch. - Steven Terry
It’s not only what Matt teaches you ..but it's the way he inspires and encourages you to go beyond what you think is possible - Albert Bestiero
Matt's teaching is second to none, his depth of knowledge and experience are vast. Having studied with Matt for four years I can honestly say I am a better player for it. - Tracey Keefe
After spending a bunch of hours in the class room with Matt, I was always impressed with how he gets students into material that is well outside their taste and comfort range. Shred head, hippy, or folkie, Matt knows how to reach students and turn them on to what really matters in music. One of my favorite people I've ever had the honor of teaching with, and learning from.
Steven Winston (NGW)
I taught with you at NGW, you're one of the most seasoned and knowledgeable musicians I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. - Jeff Beasley
Everything I use, I learned from you. I've gotten every gig I've auditioned for. Toured the world, seen amazing things. Largely due to you, and your lessons from age 13-18. Can't thank you enough for helping me realize my dreams..... - Leo Curley (Biohazard)
You are one of the most enthusiastic and sincere teachers I have worked with in over 30 years. Your passion and knowledge of the multiple music genres with every stringed instrument that goes with it is astounding. You treat every student regardless of their expertise and personalities with respect. - Tim Behan
Matt Smith is a consummate professional. I have taught alongside him in many places around the world, he is a truly gifted teacher who has one Secret weapon... He remembers how it felt to NOT be able to play something... Something his students love him for....
There is no area of guitar or related instruments that he hasnt mastered, and working with him has only ever been a pleasure.... - Steve Fairclough (UK)
Matt, you are a fantastic teacher with a knowledge in all genres, The best advice you gave me was, "Take the gigeven if you think you can't do it" (ability wise) It's never let me down and 20 years later I'm still playing music full time. Thank you. -Andy Morse
Matt, I believe that I've gained important insights into guitar playing every time I watched you play or talked with you about playing. And several times you've completely revolutionized my entire approach to music. "The secret of everything." I'll never forget that one. And I've used it with my own students countless times. Thank you man. - Robert Gary
Matt's teaching style infuses great humor, warmth and encouragement and draws from decades of playing experience within a hugely wide set of musical settings. One of the best teachers I've ever known - Mark Dziuba ( Professor SUNY New Paltz)
"I learned how to play 2 of my favorite songs on the guitar and accompany myself after my first lesson." True story. Love you Matt! - Christine Olivia-Huxley
If you are privileged to be a pupil of Matt’s then you are truly blessed to receive tuition from one of the real guitar greats. Matt's sheer breadth and wealth of ability, knowledge and experience of the guitar, related instruments and the music of the world is breathtaking. You will also learn many of the life skills necessary in successfully conducting yourself in the musical world from a great human being. - Keith Kemp (UK)
Matt, you are One of the most important persons, that gave me courage to give up my old job and become a professional musician. At the age of 47. A step I never regretted. Thanx.
Michael Voekel (Germany)
Matt Smith is one of the most caring and truly talented music teachers and professional guitarists I have ever had the pleasure of studying under. He has the uncanny ability to take the immense amount of musical knowledge he possesses, and translates it into a language you can immediately digest and use in your playing. In addition to this talent, he is a joy to hang with and spend time listening to andplaying with. Oh, and did I forget to mention his sense of humor and that he is a class act and wonderful human being too?? - Ken Porcaro
I took private lessons with Matt many years ago, way before YouTube or other modern methods..nothing thatI've seen since then matches what I was able to learn from Matt in his simple to understand method of teaching..the way he explained scales, modes,chords and progressions in such easy to understand graphs and exercises separated Matt from all others..he is a great player that knows how to share his knowledge! - Buzz Lafalce
Matt is especially great at zeroing in to the important parts of various styles and techniques that you need to know to sound good. The essential stuff that we all need to know. No fluff, just the good stuff that will make you sound better right away. And his students love him and love working with him. He's really is an awesome, inspiring teacher. - Lou Manzi (NGW)
I worked with Matt Smith at my 1st teaching session for National Guitar Workshops. Matt was like the Godfather of the crew, setting the standards with his exemplary teaching, playing and performing talents. His laid-back leadership skills made teachers and students all feel like family. I can't wait to have the opportunity to work with him again. - Danny Sarokin (NGW)
I've played for 50 years, learned my craft these last two years with Matt.
Lots of folks can teach music, Matt has taught me how to think about my music.
Thanks Teach! - John Henry McDonald
Matt, you are one of the few teachers I have seen sit down in front of a class of 30 students, all of varying ages, skill levels, and musical backgrounds, and not only hold their attention, but connect with them and have all of them walk away from the lesson having learned something new. - John Coates (NGW)
Inspiring and insightful , whether one on one or in a group, Matt is able to reach inside of you and move you forward with your music and your goals.. He is the Zen Guitar Master Teacher .
Matt Smith has so much in his trick bag that you can make a career sweeping up what he drops by mistake. - Guy Forsyth
Matt is an Awesome teacher and inspiration I miss him back here in NY. I would love to get some more lessons from him !!!! - Jim Smith
I really enjoyed the NGW Blues Blaster class about 6 years ago. I remember your true statement 'This class is like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose.' You made the class enjoyable, upbuilding, and gave us a lot to take home. - Joe Maasen
Matt is a brilliant clinician and instructor whose concepts are mindblowing and yet instantly useable. He has made challenging ideas approachable even for beginners. (His "chop shop" book has been a must have for many of my own students.) - Bill Hook
Matt Smith is probably one of the best teachers I've ever had and I've had a few in my day and was also a teacher at one time. His approach to music and teaching techniques are very easy and upfront so as anyone can learn from him, even a hard head like myself ! If you have the chance to be a student of Matt’s, don't miss it ! He's one of a kind for sure. - Chet Campbell
Matt is a one-stop shop. Whatever you want to learn, he can get you there. Truly a remarkable muscian; he is a guitar player's guitar player. - Scott Stohl
Matt is a rare breed. He doesn’t teach you how to play notes; he teaches you how to play music. Thanks to Matt I gained acceptance and graduated from the Berklee College of Music. If you want a teacher who truly cares, Matt is your man. - Aaron Kessler
The best compliment I ever got in music was Matt Smith telling me and others that he liked my songs. I was never one of Matt's better students and yet he guided me on a path that led to songs and musical possibilities that before didn't seem realistic for me. Calling him a great teacher seems an understatement. - Steven Scolomiero
In the path of music there are few shortcuts; but if there are any to be found, Matt Smith will be there with a flashlight to wave you through. - Greg Horne (NGW)
Of the over 1500 teachers hired at the National Guitar Workshop, Matt was easily among the finest. Not only a great musician, but a truly gifted communicator. - Dave Smolover (Director)
I got to know this outstanding musician and excellent teacher the first time at a one week Blues workshop. Despite high pressure and a large number of students he always had time and patience for our needs and plenty of ideas to get us further. He is a Pro and master of course the theoretical background as well as his instrument, but he knows as well how to pass his knowledge on. I went to learn from him again one year later and would be very happy to have him again as a teacher in the hopefully not to far future. - Rainer Brower ( Switzerland)
"Having diligently studied, played, composed, and performed for ~28 years, I found myself with a crisis in direction. Matt was able to see this, and very quickly suggest some ideas, exercises, thought experiments, and a few concrete steps to take, artistically and business-wise. He's a warm human being who can speak the truth in a way that is not only *not* off-putting, but makes you feel better for having heard it. His suggestions are spot-on and realistic. " - Matt Butler