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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 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, your website and teaching methods are excellent. You have an easy going yet encouraging way of inspiring people to learn and practice their art. And you are always accessible to your students to personally answer questions. I appreciate ... that personal touch. The course on reading rhythm and playing higher up the neck I found particularly helpful. God bless you and many thanks.


-Joe Bazan

I appreciate the organized, well thought out progression of each level, as well as a measurable means to determine when to proceed to the next level.  I had burned myself out by pushing too hard and playing beyond where I was comfortable.  This course is just what I needed, and I am happy to be back on the road to playing again.


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