Anne Lamott guitar practice
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Anne Lamott on the mental landscape of guitar practice

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


“My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone.”

Anne Lamott


To enjoy a fulfilling classical guitar practice, all it takes is to show up regularly and do the work. When we sit down and focus daily, we gain skills and see improvement over time.

That’s really all there is to it. But we can easily psyche ourselves out.

We may start to think, “I should be improving faster…” or, “This piece should be easy – something must be wrong with me”

These thoughts are Trojan horses that soon have us “forgetting” to practice, or getting too busy with other things. Any thought about where we are in relation to some fantasy ideal is trouble.

We all want to be our best selves. We want to experience mastery. We want to actualize what we believe possible for us on guitar.

But the only way to get these is to sit down and practice. A little bit today, a little bit tomorrow, a little bit the next day.

When we miss a few days of practice, it’s tempting to put a story behind it. We create a meaning, such as, “I’m not cut out for this..” or “I’m too busy.” or “The world is conspiring against my learning guitar!”

But that’s all hokey pokey. As the Bard gives us in Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Part of mastering guitar is mastering our minds. The question is, “What am I focusing on right now, at this moment?” In guitar practice, the answer should be something specific pertaining to our music or the act of playing in that moment.

Otherwise, we’re just distracting ourselves from the work that will get us what we want.


“My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone.”

Anne Lamott




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.


I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.


-Steve Simpler

Hi, Allen! I am so excited to have gotten started on your program! I just upgraded to a yearly membership. Thank you very much! You do such great work!


-Linda Hansen


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