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




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.


Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary.  Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice.  He is a very good,and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning.  I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.


-Peter Buck (r.e.m.)

Hi Allen,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.


-Rodger Paylor


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