Henry Ford Small Sections

Henry Ford on Simplifying Guitar Practice for Easier Gains

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

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Henry Ford

To play guitar, or any instrument, we learn to juggle myriad tasks and considerations.

At any given moment, we contend with notes in the left hand, patterns in the right hand, and efficient technique in both. We listen to our playing in real time, and adjust as we go. We get louder here and softer there. We connect some notes while separating others.

And we may do all these and more while playing music from memory.

If we consider the complexity of all these moving parts, it can seem overwhelming.

And this is why learning to play guitar is actually learning to practice guitar.

How we approach all the little problems – this is the real study. As we progress, we discover how to solve problems and build skills. We notice tendencies and similarities we missed before.

At first, it may all feel daunting, but there is a solution. And Henry Ford knew it.

When we divide our work into small enough jobs, nothing is too hard.

Instead of learning an entire piece at once, we can break it into small sections. And in those section we can explore the rhythm. We can play the hands one at a time. We can play the melody alone, then the bass.

Each of these is easy. So it feels almost like cheating…

But it works. When we practice the elements of our music one at a time, we learn the music at a deeper level. We become more familiar with our music, so memory becomes more reliable.

And when we isolate technical issues, we can save time by practicing just those skills we lack. We can narrow down the scope of our work, and in doing so, make greater strides in less time.

Music doesn’t have to feel difficult. Practice doesn’t have to be a constant mental and physical strain.

Quite the contrary. When we work smart in our practice we focus on small, specific challenges, each in turn. Then when we combine them, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

allen mathews classical guitar

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 stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, 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 beautifullyClick here for a sample formula.

Life is good, still enjoying [The Woodshed Program], the progress is life altering, I love it. The physical challenges of my situation have rained havoc for over half my life. In spite of those little pests this 40$ Yamaha classical who needed a new home and your course has given me the "part the clouds for the sun to shine through" outlook. You see, even when I am unable to play I know she patiently waits for my return as I do. A giant void in my journey was filled with light.

-Ken Montz

After more than a year as a member, I remain impressed with the Woodshed, song courses, Tuesday quotes, weekly lessons, and the CGS community. Without my membership, I think my enthusiasm for learning classical guitar would have faded long ago. Instead, I am enjoying the process as I make steady progress in my playing.

-Steve Dosh

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