Confucius guitar practice
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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 classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


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

I am truly enjoying the growth and challenge that the Woodshed material provides.  I look forward to working hard and learning much in the years ahead.  Thanks for all the effort and care that you have taken in providing these lessons and resources!


-Mark Whitsett


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