Alfonso X of Spain on Selecting Guitar Repertoire

Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!

“Burn old logs. Drink old wine. Read old books. Keep old friends.”

Alfonso X of Spain

Alfonso X of Spain, nicknamed El Sabio, “The Wise,” frequently used this maxim. And it’s a good one to guide our guitar practice as well.

As we choose pieces of music to play, apart from pedagogical study pieces, we can look to the world of books.

There is the theory that a book will remain relevant and popular for twice its current life. For example, if a book has been popular for 100 years, we can expect it to remain so for another hundred. New books, on the other hand, are more likely to fade into obscurity within the next few years.

Exploring music, we can trust that pieces by Bach, Weiss, Sor, Tarrega, and other “greats” will continue to satisfy for years to come.

We can increase our return on time-investment by choosing pieces we expect to enjoy far in the future. And this is regardless of difficulty level, length, etc.

Over time, we can return to this piece like an old friend, relishing the occasional visit.

We may need to reacquaint ourselves if we wait too long between meetings. This is normal. We may need to re-map the territory before we’re completely at ease.

But over time we come to know it on more and deeper levels. Our experiences compound and create a rich tapestry of personal history.

And this, combined with the thrill of discovery and exploration of new pieces, feeds both mind and soul.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

I practiced your system for three days, and it solved the I-M alternation problem I had been struggling with since I undertook classical guitar three years ago.  Many thanks!


~ Johnny Geudel

-Johnny Geudel

I have lost my entire metallic sound while I am playing now. Even my single note practice sounds more melodious, less tinny. [The Woodshed technique practice] has made a major difference in my tone. Thank you.


~ Harlan Friedman

-Harlan Friedman

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