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Confucius on Real Knowledge and Musical Progress


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


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”

Confucius (551- 479BC)


Imagine our sum knowledge as a circle. Everything inside the circle is what we know.

The edge of the circle is what we don’t know – our ignorance.

The more we learn, and the more we experience, the larger our circle grows.

But at the same time, our sensed ignorance (the outer edge of the circle) grows as well.

In music, there is no end. We could study for lifetimes and still not reach the end.

The more we learn, the more there is to learn. The more we practice, the more aware we become of what’s possible.

This creates a scenario that’s surprises many beginning and intermediate players. And here it is: practicing at an advanced level feels just like practicing at the earlier levels.

We constantly push our boundaries, and as such, spend much of our time at the edge of our circles. And it feels the same regardless of how much we know.

The ignorance we feel as beginners remains.

The problems change. The speed increases. The music becomes more complex. But the feeling of “missing something” remains. We continue to question and doubt.

In time, we become more comfortable with the unknown. We accept the duality of knowledge and ignorance. We come to terms with the incremental improvements gained practicing guitar.

We take one daily step at a time. And with each conquered summit we see peaks far larger and further beyond.








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.




Hi Allen,
First public performance ever! I am up to Level 1E in The Woodshed program. It is certainly mega helpful.


-Peter Graham

Hello Allen,
I feel my guitar proficiency is improving considerably. Every day I’m exceedingly comfortable with my right hand technique and overall fluency. And my sight-reading has improved as well. Thank you for creating the Woodshed. It’s thoughtful construction and scope and sequence of knowledge and skills has advanced my guitar skills significantly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


-Michael Immel



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