Kevin Kelly on Simple Habits for Guitar

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

“The purpose of a habit is to remove that action from self-negotiation. You no longer expend energy deciding whether to do it. You just do it.”

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is, among other things, a futurist. He looks at the current trends and predicts what the future will hold.

He looks at the systems in play. He looks at culture, at history, at cycles. Then he projects them out a decade or century and makes predictions. And he’s been right more than most.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also thinks about the future. He was once asked about what would be different in the future. His reply was that he was more interested in what would be the same.

He puts his energy and resources today into the things that will be the same later. This allows Amazon to get stronger and more robust. The work it does today compounds into the future.

In our own lives, we can ponder what life will be like later. Our habits and routines, the systems and cycles we ride – these will lead to predictable outcomes.

In regular guitar practice, how we use our focus will lead to an outcome later. As will the time we spend (or don’t) on improving our technique and bodily use.

Do we challenge ourselves? Or is practice always play (gratifying and fun maybe, but toothless and stagnant)?

Do we have a routine for practice? Loose or structured, is there a sequence of events? Are there thoughts that repeat throughout? Are they useful and constructive?

Building great habits is important, but not urgent. Especially on guitar, where improvement and growth is relatively slow anyway.

Looking ahead – months, years, decades – what can we predict based on our current habits? Is that what we want?

If not, nows the time to change. And if so, now’s the time to release any doubt and enjoy the journey.

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.

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

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.


~ Mike Barron

-Mike Barron

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