Frank Herbert guitar practice
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Frank Herbert on New Musical Experiences


“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”

Frank Herbert


One of the great things about a regular musical practice is that we get to explore new music. We get to find new ways of looking at familiar patterns. We travel across time and culture without ever leaving our chairs.

Routine is a tool. It’s a way to reduce the number of mundane decisions we have to make. This leaves our creativity and mental bandwidth open for more interesting considerations.

But routine can also be a trap. As with any tool, if we’re not careful it can have unintended effects. And the “shadow-side” of routine is what we sometimes call “the rut”.

When we allow ourselves to fall into a rut, we fail to have new experiences. We feel disempowered to make new decisions and brave new adventures. Our comfort zone becomes smaller. Journeying out no longer feels safe.

To keep our minds and spirits engaged, we need fresh problems to solve. We need to come up against our fears and limitations. Then we need to challenge them.

Daily guitar practice can check all the boxes, but only if we show up and engage. So long as we ask questions and seek answers we’ll continue to march forward. We’ll gain new revelations and discover new ideas.

With an engaged practice, we become more aware of our bodies and movements. We learn to hear differently. In time, we look at things in new ways. The world becomes richer and more highly textured.

And when everything is going well, we run the risk of relaxing our focus and falling back into the rut. So we then have to start again. When we sense our enthusiasm flagging, one of the best remedies is to lean in. We can look closer at the fine details of each moment.

When we zoom in on our movements, rhythm, tone etc., we find new worlds where we thought we’d seen everything there was to see. What once felt stale now springs forth anew like flowers at our feet.


“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”

Frank Herbert




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.


I have lost my entire metallic sound while I am playing now. Even my single note practice sounds more melodious, less tinny. [The Woodshed technique practice] has made a major difference in my tone. Thank you.


-Harlan Friedman

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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