Harriet Braiker guitar quote
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Harriet Braiker on Excellence vs. Perfectionism

 

Perfectionism is born of fear — fear of judgement or rejection, fear of being seen, fear of admitting that our best may not be as “perfect” as someone else’s.

But when we set our sights on excellence, we set fear aside. We heal from what Braiker called the “disease to please”.

Instead of trying to shortcut and hurry, we ask more creative questions. We explore more deeply just for the sake of it. We take our personal worth and identity out of it and make our work in service to something larger.

When we strive for excellence, we experience more meaning and connection in our work. While perfection is a short-term goal, excellence takes longer. It’s a path, not a destination. And as Joseph Campbell said, “When we’re on the path, we’re at the goal.”

In daily practice, this all translates to “relish”.

  • Relish the small details of each movement.
  • Pay closer attention to the sound quality.
  • Note the timing.
  • Explore the notion of grace, in both movement and attention.

The goal moves from “play these notes” to “be completely here”. We shift from “note players” to “musicians”. One small step today, then another tomorrow.

 


“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

Harriet Braiker




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 work with teachers, 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 sore after playing.  I was frequently frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward.  Then I studied with two stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, and one on the musical.  In time, I came to discover a fundamental set of formulas and movements. These unlocked my playing, and brought new life and enjoyment to my practice. Now I help other guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.


Hi Allen, I am thoroughly enjoying your website and I find it is just what I need in my renewed passion for classical guitar. I have rediscovered a great love for this instrument and the music I can learn and play and it has changed my life for the better dramatically! Thank you facilitating this process.


-George Rogers

Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


-Nusret Aydemir


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