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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.








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.




I just want to thank you for your lessons. You are helping us to understand how a piece is composed, the parts to analyze and how to do it. You are teaching a lot about how to read and play, and the most important part: PLAY with the music and ENJOY it.


-R. Martinez

Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders



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