Marilyn Monroe on Embracing the Process of Learning
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
When we take on a complex skill such as learning the classical guitar, we’re bound to learn something that we need to change later.
It happens to us all. We do our best with what we know. But eventually, we know more and recognize new opportunities for improvement. Then we need to change something we may have worked hard to master before.
Some call it “creative destruction”. Some call it “breaking eggs to make an omelet.” Some say that “what gets you out of Egypt won’t get you to the Promised Land”.
Eventually, we have to release what we know or do and start fresh with something different.
This can be hard to swallow. We may resist it. But if we’re honest, we usually know it’s for the best. It’s tempting to mourn “lost time”, or feel it’s a setback.
But it couldn’t be any other way. We had to learn as we did to get to this point. And to move ahead, we may have to accept our limitations and “start over.”
Writer Kourosh Dini expressed this: “The lack of mastery at one stage often only becomes apparent in later stages of work. Accepting this as a natural part of the learning process reduces the sense of being “behind” or “wrong.”
It’s not starting over. We bring all we’ve learned with us. We grow stronger for new perspectives and challenges. Sure, we may not sound as good for a little while, but this pulling back creates the momentum to thrust us forward to the next level and beyond.
We’re pruning. We’re culling. We’re winding the spring.
And to feel good about letting “things fall apart so better things can fall together”, we have to keep the big picture in mind.
It’s not about one piece of music. It’s not about being “right”, or being at a certain level (“I’m a Grade 6 player, so I’m beyond XYZ…”).
We live on a constant growth curve. The more we can stay objective and unattached, the more versatile and flexible we become.
Instead of protecting and guarding what we already know, we can open to new opportunities and ideas. We can take a childlike attitude of openness, and then make educated decisions based on honest review and experimentation.
There’s an age-old proverb that we can “never step in the same stream twice.” This is because the water has changed and so have we. We grow as musicians with any focused practice we do, even if we decide to go another route later.
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.
Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.
~ Peter Buck (r.e.m.)
-Peter Buck, R.E.M.
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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