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 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 beautifullyClick here for a sample formula.


Those videos on practicing the piece were just awesome, Allen! I've always thought that learning songs might be something completely different than practicing exercises, but the way you teach it makes it much easier than I thought. I'm positive that joining the Woodshed has been the best investment I've ever done for learning the classical guitar. Thank you so much for these lessons.


-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.


-Steve Simpler


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