Einstein guitar problems
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Einstein on Staying with Problems Longer

In our journey with each piece of music, we come to certain predictable landmarks.

And each of these landmarks marks a completion of some aspect of our learning.

For instance, when we finally get all the notes in hand, we (rightly) pause and pat ourselves on the back.

But if we stop here and move to the next new piece, we never rise above “just playing notes”.

Getting the notes, while no small feat, is only the first step in playing a piece of music.

Once we have the notes in hand, we can work on the balance of melody versus bass and accompaniment. We can mold the sinews that tie one phrase to the next. We can craft little details that give listeners psychological insights into the character of the music.

In our explorations of a piece, we may discover a musical opportunity that is beyond our current technical ability (such as playing the bass notes short and separated while the melody is flowing and connected). So here we find something new to practice.

Einstein would ponder problems for years. He taught himself to be comfortable with open-ended questions. He accepted that some things just take time to come together.

We can bring this patience and dedication to our music. We can go beyond hacking out notes. We may not always know exactly what to do next. But if we stay with it, we’ll grow as musicians. We’ll enjoy deeper relationships with our music. We’ll discover more meaning and fulfillment than simple notes can offer.


  “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer”.

                    Albert Einstein




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.


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

I am a 61 year old physician, reconnecting with the classical guitar after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. After a couple of weeks [in the program], I’m now producing a much clearer, yet somehow more mellow and beautiful sound. It was really good to feel it happening in my hand, and that it felt more comfortable and somehow “right”, compared to the way I had played before (“curved picking”). The fog started to lift and I found that I was remembering more, and it felt great (also a bit of a relief!), giving me confidence to keep going. Thank you for making your course available - your love of music and the guitar shines through the teaching. I am very happy I found and registered with CGS.


-Brian Davey


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