Studying at University of Nebraska Omaha, Matt Ehlinger is Sophomore majoring in Music Performance with a concentration in Jazz Guitar. Currently active in the Omaha music scene, from required school events to jazz band to a gospel band, Matt finds importance in furthering his musical knowledge. Matt sat down with the 402 to tell a little bit more about himself.
Matt was born and raised in the Omaha, specifically the Dundee area. He began by stating that he didn’t grow up playing music. “I wasn’t exposed to a lot of music.” Instead Matt described that mathematics was his route to music.
“I like forms and formals… then taking information and figuring out. Taking a bunch of numbers and finding out what it means. Music reminds me of that”
While focusing on guitar, Matt has explored other instruments. From guitar to piano to trumpet to voice, Matt has experienced different outlets of music. “I dabble in piano. You can just fill a lot more spaces and create color.. You can add a lot on the piano. But I play guitar so… Yah.”
Matt, however, didn’t start playing guitar until he was 14-years-old. “Even then, I didn’t take it seriously until I was around 17.” A modest musician, Matt claims that he has days that he feels like he isn’t even good at playing guitar. “I remember a specific time when I was playing a Rush song with some people. We didn’t have a drummer and it was mix meter. We decided to sight read the song but I was terrible at reading music because it was my first week at college. Anyways we finally got it, it took like a month or two but there was a lot of improvement.”
Looking back on that experience Matt says he is really proud of himself for sticking with it and not getting discouraged. It’s easy for an artist to doubt his or her ability and decided that he or she isn’t good enough. What is far more difficult is to stick with a challenging project or subject until it is mastered. Matt says he experiences that sort of feeling a lot in his music. The question is however, what artist is truly satisfied to the point where they can look or listen to their work and say, ‘I have no room for improvement.’? Matt told the 402 there is always room for improvement and growth no matter the artist.
With this idea in mind, Matt looked up to a couple of musicians who ultimately inspired him to pursue music as a profession.
“Okay so, Jack Adams is a worship leader at Trinity church. I used to go there. Super rock and roll, he had like long hair, cool gear, he was so cool and inspired me around 15.” In other words Matt looked up to Jack as, ‘I want to be that guy.’
On a slightly different note, Matt mentioned an instructor he used to have growing up: “Now looking back I think about this trumpet teacher that I had. He had lots of experience. He was super talented and yet focused on teaching until he died which was pretty recent,” explained Matt. “ He was a great player and yet he kept teaching. I don’t know.. He just wasn’t trying to show off. He just wanted to share what he had.”
Implementing what he learned from both men, Matt not only focuses on becoming the best musician he can be but also strives to share his knowledge with others. While he enjoys the technicality and the “nitty gritty” of music, Matt also thinks performing and playing is just all around enjoyable. Learning doesn’t have to be tedious. Matt wants his students to experience the reward of learning and improving their skills. His goal isn’t to dictate the classroom but to assist the student. “If they have a song they are struggling with, or want to learn a new technique or just start guitar from square one, I am more then happy to help.”
Want to take guitar lessons from Matt Ehlinger?