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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)?”








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.




Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


-Gregg Olson

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!


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