Winston Churchill on How to Unlock Guitar Potential
Here’s a lesser-known fact: In addition to statesman and Nobel Prize-winning writer, Winston Churchill was also an accomplished impressionist painter. Hundreds of his paintings are displayed around the world in museums and private collections.
How could one man have mastered so many different fields?
According to this quote, the key is to simply keep going.
Discounting strength and intelligence, he believed that a continuous effort was more important.
And this is equally true of our musical practices.
We can inch forward at even the slowest pace. And so long as we continue forward, we’ll see results, like water eroding granite.
And note that Churchill cites “effort”. This means we need to stay challenged. Our practices can’t be too easy. We can’t spend all our time polishing what’s already shiny.
Instead, we need enough challenge to keep us engaged, but not so much we become disheartened.
Part of our job as practicing musicians is to find this perfect point of balance. Like competitive log-rollers, each day we try to stay upright and avoid spinning off in one direction or the other.
It’s empowering to know that strength and intelligence aren’t essential. Sure, they’re nice if we have them, but not required.
If we, as Rumi suggested, “sell our cleverness for bewilderment”, then each moment with our music becomes a sacred puzzle. Each day is an end unto itself. We plumb the depths of each movement and phrase with curiosity and wonder.
And over time, we unlock our potential: potential skill, potential appreciation, potential joy.
“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.”
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.
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