Bob Hawke guitar practice
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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)?”


“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.


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

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Thanks!


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