Bruce Lee on Hacking Away on the Unessential
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
What is essential in music? Answer: the following two questions:
- What is the pitch, duration, volume and tone quality of the next note?
- How do I make that happen?
The first question defines our musical understanding and intention. It begins with questions of “What note is this and where do I play it?” And it leads to more advanced concepts of phrasing and interpretation.
The second question speaks to our ability and technique. This is the physical act of playing each note.
Each contains infinite opportunities for study and growth.
To streamline our practice, we can spend time on what matters. We can focus on the core fundamentals of playing our music:
- How we use our minds (focus, awareness, intention)
- How we use our body (form, positioning, movement)
New exercises and pieces don’t magically bestow new abilities or techniques. They are simply tools to expand and challenge our current understanding and execution.
When we use them as such, they are helpful. But they stall progress when they in themselves become the point.
If we use our mind to direct our body, any exercise or piece of music will bring us forward. We can use new additions to challenge our core skills.
But our essential goals are to deepen our understanding and hone our execution.
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.
Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.
~ Peter Buck (r.e.m.)
-Peter Buck, R.E.M.
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
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