Amelia Earhart guitar practice

Amelia Earhart on keeping guitar practice alive

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

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Amelia Earhart

Some days, the hardest note is the first one we play. We can experience massive internal resistance to picking up the guitar.

On any given day, we can love music, but not feel like practicing. We can want to practice. We can be proud of yesterday’s practice. And still have a hard time getting started today.

This is one of the reasons routine is so important. It’s much easier to practice when it’s something we do at X-o’clock every weekday. When we have to decide, “do I…”, the answer is far more likely to be “no.”

In this quote by Amelia Earhart, she boils it down to this formula: first a decision, then tenacity.

But this fails to take into account the wind in the sails. It doesn’t mention that force which, once under way, can keep us moving forward. This force is momentum.

We are humans with egos and emotions and moods. Momentum can make the difference between a lifelong pursuit, and a failed attempt.

Tenacity takes willpower, and willpower is fickle. Willpower can jump ship if we’re hungry or tired, or mildly distracted. Tenacity takes work, and sometimes we’re just not up to it.

But momentum, born of habit and routine, can negate the need for willpower or tenacity. Tenacity pushes, momentum pulls.

First we make the decision to act. Then we continue. Under way, our tenacity is best spent creating the habits that will compel us forward, tenacity or not.

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.

Hi Allen,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.


~ Rodger Paylor

-Rodger Paylor

I just want to thank you for your lessons. You are helping us to understand how a piece is composed, the parts to analyze and how to do it. You are teaching a lot about how to read and play, and the most important part: PLAY with the music and ENJOY it.


~ R. Martinez

-R. Martinez

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