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Frank Burgess: Your Body is Your Autobiography


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


“Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies.”

Frank Gelett Burgess


Learning and playing guitar, we need to keep track of myriad details. To play any tune we must remember which finger goes where. We have the rhythm and the fingerings, the swells and the fades.

With so much to think about, it’s no wonder we fail to notice when we slump or lean. We forget about our bodies until they hurt, demanding attention.

Over time, the small compromises carve themselves into permanence, like water etching stone.

We lean on the desk and become crooked. We stoop and become hunched. We ignore our guitar technique and suffer repetitive stress injuries.

It happens so often we fail to notice. We assume it’s all part of living.

But the outcome, both now and down the road, is up to us.

When we care enough to sit up straight we breathe better now and find more comfort and flexibility later. When we treat our bodies well they treat us well in return.

The years will pass either way (or so we hope). We can take the time and care to protect our bodies and build sustainable habits of movement. Or not.

And the good news: we can always find greater comfort and utility now. We all, regardless of age or habit, can make small improvements today, tomorrow and 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.




Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.


-Peter Buck, R.E.M.

Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders



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