Henry Miller guitar practice
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Henry Miller on the real payoff of quality musical practice

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


“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

Henry Miller


Someone (Einstein or Drucker?) said, “Not everything that can be measured matters, and not everything that matters can be measured.”

We choose benchmarks or events to measure our progress – learning a new and harder piece of music. Getting our scales up to a given speed. Playing a performance or special event. These mean to mark the path forward.

But why do we want these? What’s the real payoff?

Our real goal is not to play the hard piece. It’s to play beautifully and enjoy our daily progress. It’s to feel a sense of accomplishment and personal mastery. Fun and joy are nice as well.

Since what really matters in our music cannot be measured, we substitute something that can: benchmark achievements.

Benchmarks are tools to mark progress. But they can also become idols – they represent “the thing”, but are not themselves “the thing”.

The problem arises when we forget what we want. When we focus only on an “idol”, we miss the mark.

We strive more to learn the hard piece than to develop the skills we need to make the music we want to make (focus, awareness, clarity, consistency, etc.).

We try to game the system to get to the prize. But the prize here (the benchmark) is not the real prize. And when we reach it, we don’t feel as fulfilled as we thought we would.

So how do we keep our eyes on the right prizes?

We slow down. We continually search for the meaning of “quality” and raise our standards to meet it. We celebrate small improvements. We focus more on “how” than “what”.


“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”

Henry Miller




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 work with teachers, 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 sore after playing.  I was frequently frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward.  Then I studied with two stellar teachers –  one focused on the technical, and one on the musical.  In time, I came to discover a fundamental set of formulas and movements. These unlocked my playing, and brought new life and enjoyment to my practice. Now I help other guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.


Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


-Gregg Olson

I am truly enjoying the growth and challenge that the Woodshed material provides.  I look forward to working hard and learning much in the years ahead.  Thanks for all the effort and care that you have taken in providing these lessons and resources!


-Mark Whitsett


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