Mary J. Blige on Scary Things and Keeping Going

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

“Everything is scary if you look at it. So you just got to live it.” 

Mary J. Blige

Watching Youtube, or listening to music, we may hear a piece of music that resonates with us. It creates a spark and inspires us.

And we want to play the music that captivates us. We want to spin the webs that ensnare hearts, as ours has been.

But then, sitting alone with our guitar in a spotlight of reality, we glimpse the distance. We recognize the massive gap between where we are now and where we want to be. And staring into this void, we may face many emotions–overwhelm, hopelessness, regret, tiredness.

When we then consider what to do today, we may begin to doubt whether our modest practice could ever take us there. We question the promise of long-term strategies. We reason that musical hedonism and immediate gratification may be the wiser choice.

Depending on our mood, zooming out too far can be at best unproductive, and at worst crippling.

Why? Because when we’re focused on how far there is to go, we take our eye off of that which has the potential to take us there. And what is that? The current moment, with our full attention and focus.

Practice is most rewarding and productive when we bring our full selves to it. -When we set challenging obstacles and overcome them. -When we ride the razor’s edge of “hard but not too hard”.

Wonderful things happen when we opt for quality and full attention in our practice. The practice becomes an end unto it itself. It doesn’t make it easy, but it feels good to do the hard work.

The “doing it” is the reward. Even if we depart this earth tomorrow, we can smile knowing that we’ve lived well for this practice.

Like George Gershwin sang, “For suddenly, I saw you there And through foggy London town The sun was shining everywhere…”

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.

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

Become a Member and Play More, Beautifully!

“The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”
Charles Poliquin

Join the program that takes you from the beginning fundamentals to advanced mastery, so you…1

  • Move your hands safely and fluidly
  • Enjoy fulfilling practices and meaningful work
  • Play beautifully with expression and flow

Click the button to take a step towards an
organized, effective guitar practice. >>>