John Lennon guitar practice

John Lennon on Wasting Time

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

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

John Lennon

We naturally look forward to where we want to be with our music. We think of the pieces we want to play, the speed, the fluidity.

And we recognize that we aren’t there yet. And no matter where we are now, the goal always seems far away.

“So much work to do! No time to waste! We must move forward!”

Paradoxically, many of the practice techniques that seem to get us nowhere are the ones that move us forward fastest.

Slow practice, for instance, lets us work around all sorts of problems. But in the moment, when we’re practicing and we only have so much time for guitar today, it can take real willpower to actually do it.

It feels like a waste of time.

Playing the melody alone, or the bass part alone, seems like a waste of time, too. After all, that’s not what we’ll play – we’ll play all the notes.

And technique practice? Scales and patterns and exercises? No time for that – we have music to play.

So how do we make these practice methods that feel like wastes of time (even if we know intellectually they’re not), feel productive and worthwhile?

We learn to enjoy them.

When we relish slow scales, counting aloud, or looping a short section, they become treats. They may even become more satisfying than blazing through a piece ignoring all the fumbles and slips.

Okay, fine and good. But how do we build that bridge? How do we go from “should” to “want to”?

With any area that repels us, chances are we haven’t discovered what to be curious about yet. Once we pull out the magnifying glass and look for small details, the attraction grows and we become magnetized to it.

When we ask, “What’s going on here?”, we see all the interesting little challenges. We see the intricate inner workings. We see far more than we do just flying by.

Even in something as drab as a Soviet-era apartment complex, we can zoom in and find abundant beauty and fascination. A flower, a spot of moss, light refracted off a droplet of dew, not to mention human drama. Beauty can always be found in the micro.

As we pick up the guitar to practice, the time will fly and we’ll finish most fulfilled when we slow down and explore fine details. When we “waste time” with the trivial and nit-picky, we bloom as musicians.

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

I came on board three months ago and I’m loving it more than ever. I have maintained my practice pattern. I’m sticking wholeheartedly with the program as written. That makes it easy to see what I NEED to work on rather than just playing the shiny places I’ve gone beyond…..I’ve learned to focus 100% on what I’m doing that very minute….I’m developing strength in my left hand...I spend time with the videos in the evenings and always find something more to help me. I’m not looking for info anywhere else. Everything I need is right here in The Woodshed. You say “Jump” and I say “How high.” I’m so grateful I found you. You speak in a language I understand.


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