Matt Shaver is a composer, performer, and music educator who is passionate about sharing music with others. His musical journey began with piano lessons when he was eight years old, and grew to include concert percussion, marching percussion, drum set, guitar, bass guitar, and music composition before turning eighteen.
After graduating high school, Matt earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music composition (Summa Cum Laude) from Baylor University and a Master of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Alabama. Some highlights from his time in college include winning the competitive Baylor Symphony Composition Contest his freshman year, winning Baylor’s Outstanding Composition award, performing at the Livestrong 15th Anniversary Gala, and working with Pulitzer Prize composers Steve Reich, David Lang, and John Luther Adams.
While completing his degrees, Matt maintained a passion for guitar. Inspired by rock and metal virtuosos like Joe Satriani, Jeff Loomis, and Tosin Abasi, Matt pursued a greater technical and theoretical understanding of the guitar alongside his composition and percussion studies.
In 2015, Matt moved to Austin, Texas and began teaching music lessons. Initially focusing on music theory and composition, he later began teaching students ages 3 to 50 how to play piano, percussion, guitar, and electric bass. These initial experiences ignited Matt’s passion for sharing music with others and transformed teaching from a part-time job into a lifelong pursuit. Currently, Matt teaches private lessons in greater Phoenix area and accompanies dance classes with improvised music at Arizona State University.
Lessons with Matt follow a curriculum that develops technique and musicianship while regularly allowing students to choose songs they want to learn. This freedom makes students feel involved and more in control of their growth as a musician by setting goals meaningful to them. As a multi-instrumentalist, Matt can play guitar with his drum students and drums with his guitar students to give them experience playing with another musician. Learning how to play music with others is an important musical skill not always addressed in private lessons, but it is essential to becoming a well-rounded musician.
Over years of experience as a musician and teacher, Matt realized that any pursuit becomes difficult eventually. Whether it’s a school subject, musical instrument, or sport, developing progressively greater mastery of something will become very challenging even if it was easy at first. Matt’s teaching philosophy is to create a space for students to encounter and acknowledge this fact, and to facilitate experiences where students prove to themselves that with genuine motivation, a clear plan, and intentional effort they can overcome any challenge, musical or otherwise.