Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky on Welcoming In Inspiration

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

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Routine fosters inspiration and motivation. The more regularly we play, the more excited and encouraged we become.

It’s a law: A body at rest stays at rest. A body in motion stays in motion. This is true of guitar practice as well.

The easiest way to build motivation to practice is to practice. Even short, disorganized practices for a few days will spark interest and curiosity. Soon, we feel compelled to pick up the guitar and get to work.

And the quality of practice also has weight. We can find appropriate challenges (hard but not too hard) and spend time there. This leads to improvement, which drives us forward.

Few things are as rewarding as seeing progress in our efforts. As we stack small wins in daily practice, we feel good. And these feelings cue us to do it again the next day, and the next.

But even in a regular practice, we may fall into ruts or plateaus. This is common. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

The answer to most ruts is to change either the challenge or the expectation. If our bar to success is too high, we may become discouraged. If it is too low, we grow bored.

In the perfect practice routines, we constantly grow and expand. While we do need repetition to ingrain and reinforce skills, we also need variation. We can vary elements of our scales, exercises, pieces, etc. to create new challenges and obstacles.

Then we can find the point of best challenge (again, hard but not too hard) and dig in.

Inspiration is a lovely feeling. But if we wait for it, we will not often enjoy it. Instead, we can focus on the factors that make it possible. We can keep our attention in areas where we hold sway.

Then, when we do feel inspired, we can relish it. Like a friend who drops in sometimes, we can pour a cup of tea and bask in the warmth for a spell.

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.

Hi allen, it amazes me how good and precise your teachings are. The best thing I ever did was to download a piece of music from you and to listen to your videos. The enjoyment I now have from playing is ten fold. Thanks!



~ Tony Christopher

-Tony Christopher

I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight-read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.


~ Steve Simpler

-Steve Simpler

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