Image

Coach Dean Smith on How to Deal with Mistakes


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


“What do you do with a mistake? Recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”

Dean Smith

Many players, when first learning to read music, find it very challenging. This is normal.

Learning to play from musical notation takes time and work. With each practice, we fail over and over again.

This is true for many elements of learning guitar. But sight-reading music notation seems to bring out the emotions in many people.

For others, it’s the small mistakes that show up in pieces we “should be able to play by now”.

The trick, as legendary coach Dean Smith says, is to suck the marrow from the mistake, then move on.

Recognize it: Pay enough attention to recognize mistakes when they happen.

Admit it: Mistakes are part of the game. No need to deny mistakes or get offended. We’re not bad people – we simply messed up. And after all, a mistake is useful when we…

Learn from it: Seek insight into what went wrong. Was it too fast? Is there confusion about something? Were we distracted? Questions lead to answers.

Forget it: Tomorrow we’ll have new mistakes to deal with. There’s no need to carry the current one with us. We can release it, re-fluff our feathers, and move on.

Learning guitar is a long-term relationship. Each day for (hopefully) decades we’ll sit down to work and practice. How we handle mistakes will be a determining factor in how much we learn and enjoy our time on guitar.








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, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders

Hi Allen,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.


-Rodger Paylor



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. >>>