Neil Armstrong guitar mystery

Neil Armstrong on the Mysteries and Wonder of Music

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

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of our desire to understand.”

Neil Armstrong

There are at least two “flavors” of mystery.

The first flavor is of the general unknown. This is when we know something is there, but we don’t know what it is. For example, we know there is something called “music theory.” But we may not have the knowledge required to understand it yet.

Another flavor of mystery lies in solving problems. In these mysteries, we bring our current know-how to an issue. We try different solutions to find the key to the puzzle.

Here, we get to combine and adapt our previous learning. We look for patterns and similarities to previous problems we’ve solved.

This second brand of mystery is the one we explore over time on guitar. As we learn new pieces, we unlock their riddles and explore their hidden chambers.

What happens when we challenge our understanding with real-world problems? We learn on a deeper level. Simple knowledge becomes real understanding, embodied and versatile.

It’s curiosity and experimentation that drive the most effective practice. We make little hypotheses and test them in real-time. We use our ears, eyes, and bodily sensations to gather the feedback we need. We assess and reassess. We play.

Do we ever get to the end of this journey? Not likely. And that’s one of the great advantages of musical study. As astronomer Carl Sagan wrote,

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

Guitar practice is always rewarding and engaging, so long as we ask questions then seek the answers. This is the dance of daily practice, the courting of mystery.

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 just started level 1C...I was able to look at a Carulli piece, albeit a simple one, and understand it. And that understanding allowed me to play it much more easily on the first run through, and I expect it will allow me to make it fully musical at tempo quite soon. That's a huge personal victory for me. Until very recently my mindset was: "Notes on a page. Jimi didn't need them and I don't either." But I ain't Jimi, and now I want those notes on a page.
My work in CGS, even at these early levels, got me to that personal breakthrough. And that's given me more confidence that continued work will get me to greater places in due time. So to answer your question: yes, I absolutely feel like I'm making headway and moving forward in my playing. Thank you for that.
~ Matthew Ecker


Life is good, still enjoying [The Woodshed Program], the progress is life altering, I love it. The physical challenges of my situation have rained havoc for over half my life. In spite of those little pests this 40$ Yamaha classical who needed a new home and your course has given me the "part the clouds for the sun to shine through" outlook. You see, even when I am unable to play I know she patiently waits for my return as I do. A giant void in my journey was filled with light.


~ Ken Montz

-Ken Montz

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