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

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


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.


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