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Confucius on Moving Beyond the Intermediate Level


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


“One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”

Confucius


When we first begin guitar, we’re like children – eager to learn, open to new ideas. But as we mature, we become resistant to change.

Somewhere in the “intermediate” range of musical ability, many players hit a plateau. They convince themselves that they have all the answers. They resist suggestions for improvement. They assume that anything worth knowing or doing the would already know or do. They stop learning.

This intermediate plateau is fueled and prolonged by ego. An identity is created, and any step backward or return to basics threatens that identity.

If we find ourselves in this trap, we must strive to gain some objectivity. To move from intermediate to advanced we must separate our sense of self from our current ability-level. We must be willing to release everything and start over, like a snake shedding skin. We must burn the field to ensure the next yield.

For anything we know for sure, we must be willing to ask, “Is that true? How do I know it’s true? What would it be like if it weren’t?”

Many great leaders, such as Steve Jobs, have had “strong beliefs, loosely held.” This is why they continue to evolve and grow. They have well-earned confidence in their abilities and methods. But they also change course anytime a better option arises. And what’s more, they actively seek those better options.

We can create the lifelong attitude of learning and exploration in our music. We can be brave and childlike, instead of stubborn and childish.


“One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”

Confucius









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.




This is the ideal starting position for me. As a relative beginner with no teacher this is helping me enormously in developing good technique and not falling into bad habits. I no longer feel (A) That it's a struggle to learn a new piece and (B) That I am alone in my endeavors. My advice is to try The Woodshed program. It is fantastic and will not only bring up your playing but his explanations of musical concepts as you go along put things into perspective.


-John Andersson

Allen: Just wanted you to know I have thoroughly enjoyed The Woodshed program. I'm in Level 1C and love how every part works together. It has improved my "general" playing already.


-Lydia Chance



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