quote patch the pirate

Patch the Pirate on Taking it Day by Day

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

Little by little
Inch by inch
By the yard it’s hard
By the inch what a cinch
Never stare at the stairs
Just step up the steps
Little by little inch by inch

Patch the Pirate

We’re all so wise and insightful when it comes to others. It’s easy to see when someone has bitten off more than they can chew. And how helpful we are to tell them, “Just take it one step at a time.”

But it’s not so easy to see when we’re the one with too much on our plate. We naturally think ourselves right, so it can be off-putting when a friend becomes annoyingly wise and recommends the same.

James Allen said, “Incremental learning is better than ambitious failure.” And he was right.

We see this in marathons and distances races. The ones who explode off the starting line are seldom the same ones who cross the finish line. They tucker out and quit.

As guitarists, one of our main challenges is to simply keep going — to show up day after day, year after year. To get back up after we fall. To keep the flame burning when it gets dangerously low.

And to do this, we need little successes. We need tiny wins that make us feel good and help us do what’s required. Wee victories at every step, like…..

  • Picking up the guitar,
  • Paying attention to how we move our hands,
  • Working on that tricky spot just one more minute,
  • and the thousand other things.

All we can do is practice well in this one minute. Then do it again. And again. And before we know it, we wake up and play Leyenda beautifully. For better or worse, that’s the only way it ever happens.

Further Reading: The Amazing Power of 1% Improvements

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.

Great Work!!!  I thank you sincerely for all the effort you have put in and the terrific work you do for the classical guitar community.


Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


~ Nusret Aydemir

-Nusret Aydemir

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