Hemingway trusting teacher
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Ernest Hemingway on How to Trust Your Guitar Teacher


“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”


Ernest Hemingway

Each day, we face risk. Every time we take a step, we risk a fall. Any bite could be tainted. Any word could be misconstrued.

Risk is a part of life. And so we mitigate it the best we can. We practice caution where appropriate, and accept the odds.

And when we become comfortable with something, we tend to play down the risks. They take less of our attention.

The chef no longer fears the knife. The same with the carpenter and the hammer.

Most of us drive at top speeds, passing just inches from oncoming vehicles. And our pulse doesn’t waver.

The familiarity lets us forget the risks. Or, it lets us ignore them. We give things the “benefit of the doubt”.

But for new experiences and people, we often instead give the “detriment of the doubt”. We’re wary and suspicious.

And this has helped us survive.

But to grow in any way, to expand our abilities, or our clan, or our comfort, we must decide to trust.

On guitar, we improve fastest if we choose one method and stick with it long enough to see results. We may then abandon it for a new method or approach. But we’ve given ourselves time to learn from it.

This commitment was easier in the past. We would only have one teacher or book, and that would be our route.

But now, we can surf the web all day long and sample hundreds of different methods and next-steps. We have more options than ever before.

So the challenge is to trust one approach for a minimum of time to see results.

And the discipline is to avoid others until it’s time to find something new.

Okay, but how do we know which to choose? We simply have to trust. We can’t know until we do.

We can use our best judgement beforehand. We can do our research and see if the method or teacher seems trustworthy. And if they break our trust, or we lose respect, well then that’s new information. We can now make an educated decision on how to proceed.

But in the end, we have to sign on and trust. Then get to work.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”


Ernest Hemingway


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.


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

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.


-Mike Barron


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