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Carl Sagan on the Muscular Brain and the Joy of Learning


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


“The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.”

Carl Sagan


Material satisfaction only goes so far. Vacations, shiny new things, carnal pleasures – these are wonderful in the right dosage. But if they are the entirety of life, they quickly become hollow and thin.

On the other hand, “Understanding is joyous.”

When we workout our brains and bodies to expand our capabilities, it feels good.

Not only do we get a rush of brain chemicals worth thousands on the street, but we also get the emotional reward of striving and accomplishing.

One of the main goals of a musical practice is constant challenge.

While we do set our sights on some horizon, it’s the daily journey that provides the real reward. It’s the struggle, the toil, the wrestling with something slippery that let’s us shut the guitar case knowing we’ve fought the good fight.

One of the great gifts of learning classical guitar is that it’s never done. We have infinite exploration, puzzles and joyous understandings ahead.








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 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 beautifully. Click here for a sample formula.




Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.


-Karen Richardson

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



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