jack sparrow guitar practice
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Captain Jack Sparrow on Guitar Practice Attitude

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


“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow


Classical guitar is a long game. Sure, we can accomplish much through spurts of high action. But the real joy and progress come with showing up day after day, year after year. It’s the incremental improvements that reward us.

To keep showing up, it helps to feel good about the whole affair. We need to feel pulled toward our practice. We can only push for so long before we lose the willpower.

Frustration is demotivating. Unmet expectations zap our energy. Doubt and fear take the fun out of it.

Most often, these manifest themselves as small events in practice. We feel we should have mastered that small section by now. We assume other people have it easier (they don’t) and judge ourselves harshly.

These nagging frustrations erode our musical experience. They chip away at our confidence and creativity. They undermine our intentions and make practice more difficult.

Instead of forming habits of negative self-talk and insecurity, we can stay upbeat.

When we encounter tricky spots and hard lessons, we can take it in stride. These are normal – all part of the game. These obstacles help us grow. They offer the opportunity to try new solutions and experiment with different perspectives.

When we face challenges (and we will, daily) we have a choice: up or down. Will we use this challenge as sport, or will we take it as a personal affront?

In practice, it’s just the music, the instrument and us. No one else is involved. We can find joy and meaning in the work, or we can crumble. The choice is ours, each day and each moment.


“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow




allen mathews classical guitar

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 beautifullyClick here for a sample formula.


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

Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


-Nusret Aydemir


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