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

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 work with teachers, 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 sore after playing.  I was frequently frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward.  Then I studied with two stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, and one on the musical.  In time, I came to discover a fundamental set of formulas and movements. These unlocked my playing, and brought new life and enjoyment to my practice. Now I help other guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.


Since a year ago with my subscription to CGS it has been for me a pleasurable adventure and a discovery of all the facets of the classical guitar.
Your dedication and enthusiasm, as well as your talent, in the tuition is quite contagious (well, lets hope also for your talent) and has made it fun and useful in my progression. Also the weekly tip that you mail us and the Facebook group is excellent.


-Michel Donnet

Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary.  Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice.  He is a very good,and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning.  I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.


-Peter Buck (r.e.m.)


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