Francis Beacon guitar practice
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Francis Beacon on Playing Classical Guitar Naturally

In his Kitharologous, Ricardo Iznaola offers this quote by Francis Bacon. But as true as it sounds, what does it actually mean?

When we talk about learning and practicing classical guitar, what is “Nature”?

So much in music is thought to be “in the ear of the beholder”. But Bacon suggests that there are deeper truths that govern our art. He implies that it’s only though mastery of these core elements that we create “natural” art and music.

So what are they?

Perhaps we can reference the building blocks of music in general:

time (rhythm)

pitch (notes)

volume (loud vs. soft)

and timbre (in guitar, tone quality).

For any piece of music, these are indeed a great place to start. And improving any of these will bring our music to higher levels.

But to create any of the above, we have to use our human bodies. And this brings in more “nature”.

If we use our bodies wrong, we can cause pain and injury. Or at the least, we can limit our abilities to execute the four musical building blocks above.

So “nature” now includes our positioning and form, and how we move our hands. It could also include how well we listen and pay attention.

Looking at music in this light, we can perhaps do best by putting complex patterns and pieces aside, and focus for a while instead on beefing up the basics.

We can slow down and release the need to reach a goal or finish line. Now, we just may find joy and meaning in the small incremental improvements that come with focused practice.

When we focus on the fundamentals, we set ourselves up to one day “command nature”.


“Nature, in order to be commanded, must be obeyed.”

Francis Bacon




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.


After more than a year as a member, I remain impressed with the Woodshed, song courses, Tuesday quotes, weekly lessons, and the CGS community. Without my membership, I think my enthusiasm for learning classical guitar would have faded long ago. Instead, I am enjoying the process as I make steady progress in my playing.


-Steve Dosh

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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