Charles Kettering on Finding Simple Solutions to Musical Problems
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“This problem, when solved, will be simple”Charles Kettering
It’s natural to fear the unknown. We may not have lasted this long as a human race without a cautious conservatism in daily life.
So it’s no wonder we feel our blood rise when faced with confusing problems.
Our instincts have been honed over millennia. They don’t turn off because we invent microscopes and digital databases. Meeting new challenges, we feel what people have felt since before recorded history.
In the deep creases of our brains lie the same switches and gears that govern the lives of lizards. When we perceive something as a threat, we bristle and prepare for battle or flight.
But this is all a bit heavy-handed, if the challenge we meet is musical.
Musical problems bring no swords or germs. They bring little consequence at all, outside of personal interest.
This is why learning to play classical guitar is learning to play with problems.
Most every piece of music will have at least one spot that resists polish. And it’s in these measures that we test our meddle. It’s here we find the opportunity to dance through various potential solutions.
And after the twirls and spins, after we’ve exhausted ourselves striking from every angle, the simple fix shows itself.
The problem now solved, we may wonder how we ever had such trouble with it. It all seems so easy. But that’s only after.
Until then, the game consists of trying and failing and trying again, in some other way. And the more problem-solving tricks we keep in our belts, the more able we are to play. Without fear, without trepidation, knowing at the final unveiling we’ll find the simple answer.
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.
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
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.
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