Image



Bela Bartok on Comparison and Competition


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


“Competitions are for horses, not artists.”

Bela Bartok


Kids love to mark their height on a wall or door-frame. They love to see how much taller they are than on the last birthday or New Year. It’s fun to witness growth.

But imagine the kid who doesn’t look at her past heights. Instead, she only compares her height to her older sister’s line on the wall.

Every year, she still falls short. Sometimes the gap gets even larger. Always so far to go, and any progress feels paltry and insignificant.

Most of us would recognize the error of this stance, and try to help. We would bring this girl’s attention back to how far she’s come. We would urge her to look back at her own lines for evidence. We would try to explain how her sister’s height has nothing to do with her own.

And as musicians, how should we gauge success? How can we know we’re on the right track? Are we improving? Are we growing?

We may be tempted to gauge success by comparison.

Which is the faster runner? the one who wins the race. It’s cut and dry. It takes little thought or perspective.

But for a lifetime pursuit like music, comparison doesn’t work.

Why? Because the goal is not to have the fastest scales in the neighborhood. It doesn’t matter if we play bigger pieces than….. who exactly?

Improvement is a valid goal. But for its own sake. For the thrill of the chase. For the satisfaction of a job well done.


“Competitions are for horses, not artists.”

Bela Bartok









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 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 beautifully. Click here for a sample formula.




Life is good, still enjoying [The Woodshed Program], the progress is life altering, I love it. The physical challenges of my situation have rained havoc for over half my life. In spite of those little pests this 40$ Yamaha classical who needed a new home and your course has given me the "part the clouds for the sun to shine through" outlook. You see, even when I am unable to play I know she patiently waits for my return as I do. A giant void in my journey was filled with light.


-Ken Montz

Your GCS site and The Woodshed community are really super! I am glad I finally joined in, and smacking myself for waiting so long. Thanks again!


-Carol Morin



Become a Member and Play More, Beautifully!

“The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”
Charles Poliquin

Join the program that takes you from the beginning fundamentals to advanced mastery, so you…1

  • Move your hands safely and fluidly
  • Enjoy fulfilling practices and meaningful work
  • Play beautifully with expression and flow

Click the button to take a step towards an
organized, effective guitar practice. >>>




Featured Courses


$39
jesu bach classical guitar

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

One of the best loved of all classical pieces.

See more...

$39
read music guitar high positions notes

Play and Read Music in the Higher Positions

Learn to read music and identify notes on the entire neck.

See more...

$39
how to play segovia scales

Better Technique, with “Segovia’s Favorite Scales”

Detailed explorations of this popular technical tool.

See more...

« » page 1 / 2