Bob Hawke guitar practice

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.


Hi Allen,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.


-Rodger Paylor

Allen, your website and teaching methods are excellent. You have an easy going yet encouraging way of inspiring people to learn and practice their art. And you are always accessible to your students to personally answer questions. I appreciate ... that personal touch. The course on reading rhythm and playing higher up the neck I found particularly helpful. God bless you and many thanks.


-Joe Bazan


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