Kaiser Wilhelm II Horse Guitar

Kaiser Wilhelm II on Changing with the Times

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

“I believe in the horse. The automobile is a temporary appearance” 

Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, 1916

Wilhelm II, the last Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, is said to have believed automobiles a fad. He was of an earlier aristocratic age and didn’t want to heed the signs of change.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can roll our eyes at this naive grip on the past. But in the moment, things are not always so clear.

We may equally hold on to outmoded methods of practicing our guitars. Or we may retain beliefs born of a different time and place.

For example, we may play for years and never hear the sounds we want to hear coming from our instruments. We may wake up to the same struggles day after day. We may feel persistent pains or strains.

And faced with the option of doing something to remedy the situation, we may well opt to put it off until tomorrow. Again.

Guitar is a long game. This is something we do for a lifetime, whether we start in our teens or our eighties. We do it for today and plan to continue for as many tomorrows as we have the privilege of waking to.

There is no benefit to holding on to that which doesn’t work. There is no reason not to slow down and start the process of change now.

Even if we don’t know exactly what is not working, we can go back to basics and revisit or rebuild our fundamentals.

We can take a fresh look at how we practice. We can recognize when we play too fast, leading to sloppy mistakes. Then we can stop, and go again more slowly, paying better attention.

We can find new processes with which to work and take the time to learn them.

And while the language of this work suggests a step back, it is in fact a step forward. We lose nothing we have gained and only become more flexible, versatile, and resilient.

It feels good to let go of the things that don’t work. We can still be grateful for them. We can still be glad for the time we spent with them. But looking ahead, we can choose the automobile over the horse.

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,
First public performance ever! I am up to Level 1E in The Woodshed program. It is certainly mega helpful.


~ Peter Graham

-Peter Graham

Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.


~ Karen Richardson

-Karen Richardson

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