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 work with teachers, 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 sore after playing.  I was frequently frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward.  Then I studied with two stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, and one on the musical.  In time, I came to discover a fundamental set of formulas and movements. These unlocked my playing, and brought new life and enjoyment to my practice. Now I help other guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.


I have lost my entire metallic sound while I am playing now. Even my single note practice sounds more melodious, less tinny. [The Woodshed technique practice] has made a major difference in my tone. Thank you.


-Harlan Friedman

These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.  

You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!


-Ulysses Alexandre Alves


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