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Archimedes on How to Learn Guitar


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


“The only way to learn it is to do it.”

Archimedes, “Sword in the Stone”


“Today, instead of practicing my guitar, I think I would learn more by watching Youtube videos…..”

“Today, instead of practicing my guitar, maybe I’ll research new books on Amazon…”

“Today, instead of practicing my guitar, I’ll surf the web and read some articles on practicing…”

After all, learning is learning, right?

In the moment, we can easily convince ourselves to do just about anything besides practicing guitar.

Before we pick up the guitar and start focusing on something specific, we may feel like a child sitting repulsed in front of a lump of cream corn.

In these moments, guitar feels more like a pungent medicine than a meaningful and joyous pursuit. So it makes sense that we find creative ways to not practice.

But this is only an initial resistance. Most often, after a few minutes we warm up to the experience and start enjoying the practice.

Which is good, because the only way to get better at guitar is to spend the time practicing it.

We don’t learn guitar by osmosis. To improve, we must focus our attention on specific challenges.

Luckily, these challenges come in many forms. We can usually find something to catch and hold our interest if we look for it.

The way forward in our guitar-playing is always: time engaged.

Time engaged with near anything that’s at the edge of our current abilities.

Time spent focused on getting some small movement cleaner or faster.

Time spent curiously experimenting with louds and softs and brights and darks.

Time spent with hands on the guitar.

These days, we have the luxury of more potential distraction than at any other time in history. There will always be something we don’t understand, and the means to avoid practice by searching for the answer.

We say we’re practicing guitar, but in fact, the real practice is focus.








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.




Hi Allen,
First public performance ever! I am up to Level 1E in The Woodshed program. It is certainly mega helpful.


-Peter Graham

This is the ideal starting position for me. As a relative beginner with no teacher this is helping me enormously in developing good technique and not falling into bad habits. I no longer feel (A) That it's a struggle to learn a new piece and (B) That I am alone in my endeavors. My advice is to try The Woodshed program. It is fantastic and will not only bring up your playing but his explanations of musical concepts as you go along put things into perspective.


-John Andersson



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