Guitar Lessons

Guitar Lessons in Portland, Oregon and Onlineguitar lessons- southeast portland

I teach all levels and ages, from young virtuosi to senior beginner (and vice versa and all points between!).  While most of my teaching occurs via Skype or in person at my teaching studio in SE Portland, I also hold teaching positions at Reed College and Oregon Episcopal School.

While I choose to play music that appeals most to me (Latin, Spanish, Classical, etc) Many of my students focus on other repertoire and styles.  At the foundational level and concerning basic technique, it’s all the same.  The only important thing is that we share the goals of attaining mastery and creating beauty.

“Live as if you will die tomorrow; learn as if you will live forever.”   Gandhi


What is your teaching philosophy?

“My philosophy is one of mastery.  Learning is something that we do for a lifetime.  As any master craftsman or artist can attest, the moment-by-moment process becomes the most important facet.  When we develop attention to detail and consistent focus of mind, beauty ethan huwill inevitably emerge.  This is true for everything, not just music.”

For myself, I believe that personal study, performing and teaching are of equal importance, and that each informs the others.  Teaching gives me great joy and satisfaction, and I am grateful to have students with whom to share this musical journey.

My teaching style pulls from the many teachers with whom I have studied and continue to IMG_0088study, in addition to my own personal study of learning, cognitive processes, and body mechanics.   I strive to be as intuitive as possible as to the trajectory of your individual musical path; and focus as much as possible on your interests and tastes.  This is true for both beginning guitar lessons, and for intermediate and advanced classical guitar lessons.

Having played the acoustic and classical guitar off and on for over 35 years, I have had many different teachers, but have never seemed to be able to stick with any of them, until now.  Allen is not only a gifted musician, but truly an excellent teacher as well.  What I learn in my lessons goes far beyond simply learning the notes of a song.  Our sessions are always inspiring and I come away with new ideas on how to interpret the music, how to practice more successfully, and perhaps best of all, how to enjoy and take pride in my abilities as a musician.”
Claudia Michael, Student, Portland

Should I have in-person, or online Skype webcam guitar lessons?

Web lessons are growing increasingly popular, and I have found them very effective and group guitar lessonsconvenient for students.  (Read the New York Times article on the popularity and convenience of webcam lessons here.)

  Live online via Skype In-person lessons
I live outside the Portland area Yes, absolutely. Occasionally perhaps, if you can travel
My schedule changes week to week. Yes.  Scheduling is slightly more flexible with online lessons. Perhaps, though it helps if you know your schedule a week or two in advance.
I do not drive. Yes. Perhaps (public transit)
I am busy and want to reduce driving time A great option. We may be able to schedule a beneficial time when traffic is less berserk.
I want lessons for my child. I prefer to have an adult present as well, at least to start. Absolutely.   I ask that an adult stay at the lesson as well. (no drop-offs, please.) Consider taking lessons with your child! (more below)
I travel frequently. Yes.  We can maintain our weekly schedule, or often conveniently reschedule. We can generally work out agreeable arrangements surrounding travel plans.
I like to record lessons. Yes, this works very well with Skype lessons. You are welcome to record video or audio in our lessons.  I highly encourage it.



How much do guitar lessons cost?  

Duration Monthly Charge
Weekly 30 minute lessons $112
Weekly 45 minute lessons $160
Weekly hour-long lessons $200


In months with 5 weeks, the fifth lesson is free.  I ask that you pay the last week of the monthbeginning guitar lessons for the upcoming month (i.e. the last week of January you pay for February lessons).  These 4 extra lessons per year cover one week off for me each quarter for holidays.  I ask that you also commit to summers when possible (summer scheduling is more flexible).

How do I pay?

Pay online:

You can pay online.  

Payment Options

Check or cash:

You can mail me a check, or just hand it to me in a lesson.  Some students find it very lessons for kidsconvenient to enter me as a payee in their bank’s online “bill pay” feature and automate the monthly payment.

My mailing address is:

Allen Mathews   7112 SE Grant St., Portland OR 97215

(note: do not come to this address for lessons.  Lessons are held at 3880 SE Brooklyn St, Portland 97202)


What if I miss a week?  

I ask for at least 48 hours notice for missing lessons with.  Make-up lessons are available at limited times and are not guaranteed.  Missed lessons are not transferable to a new month.   It may help to think of your lesson time in the same light as a gym membership: It’s yours whether you use it or not.  That said, I try to be as flexible and understanding as possible.

Lessons that I miss will be made up, or deducted from the next month’s payment.

Where do you teach?

In addition to Skype (or Facetime) lessons, and Correspondence Classical Guitar Lessons, I teach classical guitar at Reed College and Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Oregon, and have a private teaching studio at 3880 SE Brooklyn St, Portland 97202  (on 39th between SE Division and SE Powell).  This is a space in the St. Paul Lutheran Church, of which I am not a member.  I also periodically facilitate classes and workshops in the community.

Also, check out my blog, Classical Guitar Shed, for videos, tutorials, articles, etc.

Will you come to my house for our lessons?

For a while I did house-calls, and very much enjoyed it.  It’s like being a member of the family,classical guitar lessons or visiting friends.

However, my current schedule does not permit it.  Sorry.  You may be a good candidate for live online lessons via Skype.  Please read above for more on this.

How to I sign up for beginning guitar lessons or intermediate/advanced instruction?

To start lessons, or have an introductory lesson, simply contact me by email or call me at 503-891-9878. We can find a time a get started.  We can talk about what you have/need by way of materials then, or in the first lesson.

How often are music lessons? 

When you sign up for lessons, we agree on a regular weekly time.  I understand that sometimes schedules need to change to accommodate sports or other activities, and I work to ensure a convenient time for us both, and try to be as flexible as possible when need be.

May I take lessons once in while, or have occasional musical coaching?

First, let me say that I have found that regular lessons are motivating and generate solid increases in performance.  Often, students who only take a lesson every two weeks don’t actually practice very much the first of those weeks.  If you can swing it, regular weekly lessons are great.

That said, some people:

–       Like to do it mainly by themselves

–       Study with another teacher

–       Are advanced players and want a different perspective (coaching)

–       Just want a tip or two to explore now and then.

I am more than happy to accommodate.

If you would like to get my opinion on your playing or technique, or work a specific issue with me, please get in touch and we can find a time to get together.

Do you teach electric guitar?

No, I do not.  However, many skills are transferrable and I have successfully worked with electric guitar players.

In lessons I insist on acoustic instrument, preferably nylon-string acoustic guitars.  As I specialize in classical/finger-style technique, I prefer to keep things mostly in this arena.  My IMG_0093 experience has been that students who start on acoustic classical guitars enjoy the early processes of learning more, as the strings are softer and it is often easier to get a good sound.

There are many fine electric guitar players and teachers in Portland, and I am happy to direct you to one if you like.  Just drop me a note and I will be happy to refer someone.

What age groups do you work with?

I have worked with kids as young as 5, and adults as old as 80.  I don’t have rigid guidelines on age.

What do I need to start music lessons?

For lessons, you will need an approved acoustic instrument, a music stand, and other small odds and ends, which I will list for you upon starting.  A quiet, consistent place to practice is helpful, as is a positive, upbeat outlook and a love of music.

How much should I practice?

This varies according to age and specific goals, but in general, at least 30 minutes a day is a good minimum to shoot for.  This can be advantageously split into two smaller practices if needed.  However, only you know what kind of time commitment you are able to make.  .  Advanced students often put in considerable time, but we benefit from whatever time we can spend on a consistent basis.

Studio extras: salons and recitals6-2012 recital pic2*

I host at least two student recitals per year, which are completely optional.  We talk about stage presence, performance etiquette, and all the details of live performance prior, so students feel well prepared.  We also periodically visit retirement homes and give recitals to the residents as a way to enrich the community while gaining performance experience.

Also, several times per year, I host a “Fireside Salon” for my adult students.  We get together and talk about common music, classic guitar and practice issues, and everyone who wants to can play for the group.  Occasionally, I bring in guest performers/clinicians to play and do presentations, and offer different perspectives on technique and musical interpretation.  The Fireside Salon is a very laid back and comfortable atmosphere, and offers a sense of community surrounding guitar study.      


Do you teach parent/child beginning guitar lessons?  Dan and Nick Kent Portland OR

 Parent/child can be great fun and I have several success stories with this form of lesson.  The motivation level is often higher with a “teammate” and a little friendly competition is good for some students.  Just a warning to the parents: the kids usually take off and eventually leave the parent behind!

Do you teach adult group acoustic guitar lessons?

Yes, I do.  These are often a great way to go and are lots of fun.  I typically ask that a group member assemble the group, and then we meet for a specific term or number of lessons.  Let me know if this sounds like a fit and we can discuss the finer points.


Allen Mathews has worked with my two boys as their guitar teacher.  His gentle style is one that encourages the love of the music and the need to practice.  He keeps his students interests in the instrument while also setting expectations that move them ahead in their level of skill.  He does this with a quiet calm, intelligence and humor that is very pleasant to work with.   I would highly recommend him as an instructor.”   Suzie K.


Testimonial from an online student:lessons-slideshow5

” Hi Allen,  I wanted to thank you for everything you did for Tyler this past year.  His playing has matured more since he started studying with you than in the past 2 years prior.  He played for the Rotary Club last month as he was one of their scholarship recipients.  I noticed how confident he was and it sounded beautiful.  Many people commented on how impressed they were with his playing.  Others have also commented on the same thing even with pieces he has worked out on his own.  That means he is applying the techniques you taught him!  We are taking him to college in a few weeks, he is signed up for a classical guitar ensemble class along with his other music classes.  I’m glad we chose you as his teacher, his time with you has been invaluable.

Best Regards,
PS:  Through all our scholarship efforts he has enough $ to cover all his expenses for his freshman year.  Some of his scholarships are renewable so if he keeps his grades up he can count on some money for all 4 years. Yahoo!”


Comments are closed.