A Japanese Saying for Relishing Daily Practice
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“The day you cease to travel, you will have arrived.”
Imagine the world will end tomorrow. Nothing morbid – we simply cease to be. And today we choose to play guitar. What experience would we prefer, given our current abilities?
Much of the angst that comes with learning guitar stems from comparison. We feel we should be progressing faster. We feel like others have an easier time of it.
We feel we should be able to play our pieces with no mistakes. And something is off track if we stumble. We think of playing as the goal and practice as the necessary cost of playing.
But in this “end-of-the-world” scenario, we can construct a perfect practice.
We can choose one that offers challenges and trials to overcome. We can wrestle fun problems and tease out solutions to thorny puzzles. We can delight in watching small transformations unfold before us.
In this scenario, we can practice scales for what they give us today. We can embrace the work for the work’s sake. Like walking a steep hill, we can enjoy the moderate strain.
We can enjoy feeling our muscles move. We can play with subtle differences. Quick tests of this against that, looking for a slight improvement. Smoothing rough patches. Lighting dim corners.
When we pretend that we only have today and choose to practice well, we practice better. We engage more. We relish our time. We appreciate the opportunity.
And when we wake tomorrow and, like a miracle, the world still exists, we can do it again.
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
Those videos on practicing the piece were just awesome, Allen! I've always thought that learning songs might be something completely different than practicing exercises, but the way you teach it makes it much easier than I thought. I'm positive that joining the Woodshed has been the best investment I've ever done for learning the classical guitar. Thank you so much for these lessons.
~ Ulysses Alexandre Alves
-Ulysses Alexandre Alves
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