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.
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.
Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.
~ Peter Buck (r.e.m.)
-Peter Buck, R.E.M.
Those videos on practicing the piece were just awesome, Allen! I've always thought that learning songs might be something completely different than practicing exercises, but the way you teach it makes it much easier than I thought. I'm positive that joining the Woodshed has been the best investment I've ever done for learning the classical guitar. Thank you so much for these lessons.
~ Ulysses Alexandre Alves
-Ulysses Alexandre Alves
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