Krishnamurti Listening Guitar

Krishnamurti on Seeing and Hearing Clearly in Guitar Practice

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

“Observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.” 

J. Krishnamurti

Some see the world through “rose-colored glasses.” Others may see every situation through the lens of politics or ideology.

No lens is completely accurate. This is because we filter all sensory input through our values, beliefs, and emotions.

But we do have the option of suspending belief. We can pause our judgments and labeling, and instead observe from a place of calm awareness.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius liked to call wine “old, fermented grapes,” and meat “dead animal.” He did this to challenge his own version of reality and to train situational clarity.

But even this still labels. These still contain a backstory. So we can go one step further.

We can see without naming, and hear without judging. We can feel a sensation without deeming it good or bad, pleasure or pain. Just input and nothing more.

On guitar, this exercise leads to more effective practice. When we hear accurately, we neither gloss over the mistakes nor over-criticize.

We can watch our form and positioning and notice the effects small changes make. We can remain aware of the actual sound of the instrument.

No shame, no blame – but simple observation.

When we remove the narrative, we open the door for new discovery. We open to new associations and realizations.

This only happens in real-time. It’s not something we can daydream through or “phone in.” True listening (and seeing, etc.) only happens in the moment. It’s something we do in the current moment. It is active.

And when we notice our mind seeking to label and judge, we can gently bring our attention back to the sounds and sights in the current moment.

The intellect is useful. But there are also benefits to setting it aside for a time.

When we bring neutral observation to our guitar practice, it becomes a practice in itself. We get better at it over time. It becomes easier and we more quickly gain the rewards.

With clear observation, we can make any corrections or adjustments that present themselves. Then we can observe the effects these have. Dispassionately and without attachment.

Practice becomes more peaceful and fulfilling. We more readily see the next steps forward in our playing, and are more open to change and improvement. And so we do improve – one moment at a time.

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.

Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


~ Gregg Olson

-Gregg Olson

Hi allen, it amazes me how good and precise your teachings are. The best thing I ever did was to download a piece of music from you and to listen to your videos. The enjoyment I now have from playing is ten fold. Thanks!



~ Tony Christopher

-Tony Christopher

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