Baltasar Gracian guitar quote
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Baltasar Gracian on short practice

 

“How lovely it would be to practice all day, every day…”

It’s easy to romanticize long hours of dedicated study.

But most of us don’t have that sort of time. Or we don’t have the energy or mental bandwidth for marathon practices.

If we believe we “should” be practicing more, then our current practice seems inadequate or lacking.

But that’s not necessarily true. Shorter practices are in some ways even better than long ones.

Like exercise and food, there’s a “minimum effective dose” to practice. This is the point after which the benefits are slower in coming. The same amount of work yields fewer results.

As long as we touch on something repeatedly (daily is an ideal), each practice session can itself be short.

Deep learning happens while we sleep. So as long as we “input” information with a few moments of practice, we can reap the benefits of our natural learning systems.

This is why five minutes on scales every day is far better than an hour of scales once a week.

And for most, this is also more enjoyable. Instead of bludgeoning away at our music until our eyes glaze over, we can instead take a few considered passes at it then move on.

This way, we can touch on several things in one short practice. Reflecting back, we feel good because we know we’re moving ahead in many areas. But the overall time was short.

Another benefit of the short practice: better focus. When we allow only a limited time for our practice, we tend to value each moment more. We engage deeper, and this makes learning come more easily.

Like fancy finger food, we can sample a bit of this and a bit of that. We get our fill and stay interested. The whole affair seems light-hearted and fun. And we leave feeling energized and inspired to do it again tomorrow.


“Good things, when short, are twice as good.”

Baltasar Gracian




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.


This is the ideal starting position for me. As a relative beginner with no teacher this is helping me enormously in developing good technique and not falling into bad habits. I no longer feel (A) That it's a struggle to learn a new piece and (B) That I am alone in my endeavors. My advice is to try The Woodshed program. It is fantastic and will not only bring up your playing but his explanations of musical concepts as you go along put things into perspective.


-John Andersson

Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


-Gregg Olson


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