Paul Virilio on Risking Failure in Trying New Things

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

“The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck.”

Paul Virilio

When we set out to make any change or addition to our lives, the odds are against us. Our habits and patterns are a powerful force striving to keep everything the same. Our innate systems want only the safety of the known.

This is one of the reasons that any great endeavor brings with it the risk of failure. We struggle not only with the task itself. We also swim upstream against our own homeostasis. We may try to sabotage our success in the hopes of preventing pain or embarrassment.

And we know this.

We know that new habits are an uphill journey. And this is why we usually put them off for “later.”

Even in our guitar practice, we may avoid forming habits we believe would benefit us. We may continue the way we’ve practiced in the past, just because it’s comfortable.

Perhaps we’ve wanted to start a practice journal. Or we would like to improve our right-hand technique. Or reading music, memorizing a piece, mastering nerves playing for others… There are myriad areas for exploration.

We often have these in the back of our minds for years, and still we resist starting. It’s work to start something new. There are so many things we don’t know. We’re almost guaranteed to misstep somewhere.

But the upside is worth the risk. It’s worth the effort. Even as we bridge the foggy hinterland this side of competence, it’s worth it.

We may well fail. We may have false starts or become distracted. Ships may sink. But this doesn’t mean we should abandon sailing.


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.

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

I came on board three months ago and I’m loving it more than ever. I have maintained my practice pattern. I’m sticking wholeheartedly with the program as written. That makes it easy to see what I NEED to work on rather than just playing the shiny places I’ve gone beyond…..I’ve learned to focus 100% on what I’m doing that very minute….I’m developing strength in my left hand...I spend time with the videos in the evenings and always find something more to help me. I’m not looking for info anywhere else. Everything I need is right here in The Woodshed. You say “Jump” and I say “How high.” I’m so grateful I found you. You speak in a language I understand.


~ Gloria Mader

-Gloria Mader

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. >>>