Frank Herbert (Dune) on Selective Strength and Ignoring Strategically
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows — a wall against the wind.”Frank Herbert, Dune
Learning guitar, we have myriad weaknesses and areas for improvement. We could focus our efforts on any one of many issues.
Any individual snippet of music may need work in all these areas and more. And we may not even know how to solve the problems we notice.
But all this is normal. It takes time and training to develop these skills. Learning music is a long game.
So how to we persist in the face of such powerful headwinds?
Answer: We selectively sacrifice perfection.
To bolster any skill, we need to focus on it. And as we focus on one, we have to give others a pass. Not forever – just while we work on specific chosen challenges.
As we cycle through the individual skills, we become more able to zero in on first one then the next.
Some areas, such as right-hand movements, are worth putting more time in up front. This will offer more noticeable progress and skill-growth than, say, music theory (which is abstract and mental).
Again, it’s important not to ignore any one skill for too long. But in any given moment of practice, it helps to choose an area on which to work. Then another, and another. We bounce from one to the next, accepting that as we do, not everything else will be at its best.
The key ingredient is active choice. We choose and focus. This guides our work and lets us explore the micro-adjustments that will later become instinctual.
Over time, the holes fill. We get faster at shifting our attention between elements. We form habits and understanding. And to our benefit, we learn to recognize when we deviate from the ideal.
But this only happens when we spend enough time in each skill-area to discover the ideal.
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 other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, 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.
This is the ideal starting position for me. As a relative beginner with no teacher this is helping me enormously in developing good technique and not falling into bad habits. I no longer feel (A) That it's a struggle to learn a new piece and (B) That I am alone in my endeavors. My advice is to try The Woodshed program. It is fantastic and will not only bring up your playing but his explanations of musical concepts as you go along put things into perspective.
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.
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