quote Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson on planting seeds for the future

 G. K. Chesterton (The Man Who Knew Too Much, creator of the “Father Brown” character) said of Stevenson that he “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.”

But he just seemed that way. In truth, you don’t write classics like Treasure Island or Jekyll & Hyde without filling volumes with words that never see the light of day. Some days, things work. Other days they don’t.

Even the best of the best keep working. That’s why they’re the best. They focus more on the current challenge than on the “harvest”. They focus on the process, and let the results take care of themselves. Games are won one point at a time.

As guitarists, we have to do the same. Massage this chord. Finesse this melody. Try to relax through this tricky spot. It all happens in the moment. It’s always one note connecting to the next.

All we can do is show up and plant seeds. Every moment of attention and intention is a seed we plant. No matter if we’ve been playing for 30 years or 30 seconds. Our harvests are born of patient awareness and focus.

Of course we want to play the big piece. We want to ace the beautiful melody. We want the harvest. But all we can do is this: Put all that aside and focus first on one note, then another. Note by note, seed by seed.


 “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

 Robert Louis Stevenson




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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.


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

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


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