Amelia Earhart on keeping guitar practice alive

Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Amelia Earhart

Some days, the hardest note is the first one we play. We can experience massive internal resistance to picking up the guitar.

On any given day, we can love music, but not feel like practicing. We can want to practice. We can be proud of yesterday’s practice. And still have a hard time getting started today.

This is one of the reasons routine is so important. It’s much easier to practice when it’s something we do at X-o’clock every weekday. When we have to decide, “do I…”, the answer is far more likely to be “no.”

In this quote by Amelia Earhart, she boils it down to this formula: first a decision, then tenacity.

But this fails to take into account the wind in the sails. It doesn’t mention that force which, once under way, can keep us moving forward. This force is momentum.

We are humans with egos and emotions and moods. Momentum can make the difference between a lifelong pursuit, and a failed attempt.

Tenacity takes willpower, and willpower is fickle. Willpower can jump ship if we’re hungry or tired, or mildly distracted. Tenacity takes work, and sometimes we’re just not up to it.

But momentum, born of habit and routine, can negate the need for willpower or tenacity. Tenacity pushes, momentum pulls.

First we make the decision to act. Then we continue. Under way, our tenacity is best spent creating the habits that will compel us forward, tenacity or not.

Allen Mathews

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 other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, 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 beautifully.
Click 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.)

I am a 61 year old physician, reconnecting with the classical guitar after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. After a couple of weeks [in the program], I’m now producing a much clearer, yet somehow more mellow and beautiful sound. It was really good to feel it happening in my hand, and that it felt more comfortable and somehow “right”, compared to the way I had played before (“curved picking”). The fog started to lift and I found that I was remembering more, and it felt great (also a bit of a relief!), giving me confidence to keep going. Thank you for making your course available - your love of music and the guitar shines through the teaching. I am very happy I found and registered with CGS.

-Brian Davey

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