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.” 

Japanese Saying

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.

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

These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.

You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!


~ Ulysses Alexandre Alves

-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

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