Bob Hawke guitar practice

[Quote] Bob Hawke on What is Most Important in Guitar Practice

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


“The things that are most important don’t always scream the loudest.”

Bob Hawke


When we play and practice music, we juggle several tasks. We have notes, fingerings, phrasing, technique, body use, focus, and more.

At any given moment, we only have room in our attention for one or two of these. The others take a back seat. Ideally, we bounce from one to the next often enough that nothing goes too far awry. But that doesn’t always happen.

For instance, when we learn a new piece of music, the “squeaky wheel” is usually the notes. The main question we ask is, “what are the notes and where do I play them?” And this makes complete sense.

If we take a broader view of our learning and progress, this one piece of music is a small part of a larger whole.

In this larger view, there may be more important skills than the ability to figure out notes. Our technique (how we move and use our bodies) is the tool with which we play all the notes. So training technique may be more important than finding the current notes.

Phrasing, (the way that one note connects and relates to the next), is also a skill that transcends any one piece of music.

In our practice, then, one of the most powerful questions we can ask is, “Is the work I’m doing right now positively building my future abilities (or am I just playing more notes)?”


“The things that are most important don’t always scream the loudest.”

Bob Hawke




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 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

I have to say after over 12 months of one-on-one training with a teacher before joining The Woodshed, this is the first time that I feel I’m making technical progress.


-Nusret Aydemir


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