Will and Ariel Durant on Freedom and Chaos

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

“Freedom unlimited is chaos complete.”

Will and Ariel Durant

“Creative constraints” are rules and boundaries. These limit freedom, but in the name of greater creativity.

Modern dance choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote about one of her commissions. She was given unlimited time and resources to create a show. And she bombed. She struggled and iterated and in the end, it was far from her best work.

Looking back afterward, she realized that she thrived in a tighter environment. A deadline, a smaller budget, a limited number of dancers. These are creative constraints, and they helped her to focus.

In guitar practice, we also do best with some sort of structure. When we can practice anything we want, for any length of time, we often get very little done.

Instead, most of us thrive with a set amount of time and some sort of agenda. Most of us reach deeper focus and attention when we don’t have to decide what to do next.

When we first sit down and pick up the instrument it helps to have already chosen a route. This way, we can immediately put our attention on something specific. And this in turn leads to high chances of deep learning and progress.

Sound too rigid? We can still allow ourselves as much freedom we need each day. Having a list of practice areas can act as guide, without stifling. We can always decide to do something else if the mood calls for it.

Part of learning guitar is learning to practice. And this means we learn to impose creative constraints and limits on how we spend our time. When we do, we enjoy music more and get more done.

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.

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.


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