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David Allen on Preparing for Our Less-Intelligent Moments


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


“It’s the less intelligent consciousness that doesn’t plan for periods of less intelligence.” 

David Allen


Do we have a set level of intelligence? Purveyors of IQ tests would have us believe this. These tests show that we have a certain score. This may change some over the years, but it’s fairly fixed.

Of course, these tests only grade for one type of intelligence, and there are many. And more, this fails to account for the fluctuations we experience throughout the day.

A very smart person may become not-so-smart when hungry or tired. Likewise, an emotional trigger may compel us to abandon our better senses of reason and logic.

For example, when we release adrenaline, blood moves to our extremities and away from our brains. And this makes clear thought difficult.

Most of us know all this intuitively. We have our ups and downs – mentally, emotionally, and energetically. This is part of the human condition.

So it makes sense to plan for the downturns. Especially in regards to the parts of life we care about maintaining over the long term.

For our guitar practice, for instance, we can set ourselves up so we need less willpower and discipline.

We can have everything we need in our practice space. We can make practice part of a larger daily routine so that scheduling and “finding time” is not a daily struggle. We can practice when we’re at our best and have our top “smarts” activated.

And in planning our practice, we can decide on the skills and pieces on which we’ll focus. Every couple of weeks or months we can narrow the scope and shrink the menu.

This allows us to sit down and get right to it, even if we’re not at our best.

Likewise, we can adjust our daily expectations based on our present state.

If we are mentally or emotionally fatigued, we may opt to focus mainly on physical training. Or we may feel the need to play through pieces that day and forego any structured technique practice.

Having a plan in place lets us trust that we are moving in the right general direction. Then, the days may veer slightly this way and that while we continue to progress.

The important part is that we recognize that we are not always at our best. Then, when we come to the guitar in one of these non-optimal states, we don’t question the practice itself. We hold the experience as an isolated event.

In these valleys, we can remain compassionate and understanding, as we would with a young child. No shame, no blame. Tomorrow is a new day.

If low-brain practice becomes a trend, we can then spend a few minutes of high-intelligence time to troubleshoot and plan. Then test and see how it goes.?








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 am a 61 year old physician, reconnecting with the classical guitar after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. After a couple of weeks [in the program], I’m now producing a much clearer, yet somehow more mellow and beautiful sound. It was really good to feel it happening in my hand, and that it felt more comfortable and somehow “right”, compared to the way I had played before (“curved picking”). The fog started to lift and I found that I was remembering more, and it felt great (also a bit of a relief!), giving me confidence to keep going. Thank you for making your course available - your love of music and the guitar shines through the teaching. I am very happy I found and registered with CGS.

 

~ Brian Davey


-Brian Davey

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.)



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