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.”
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”.
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.
I came on board three months ago and I’m loving it more than ever. I have maintained my practice pattern. I’m sticking wholeheartedly with the program as written. That makes it easy to see what I NEED to work on rather than just playing the shiny places I’ve gone beyond…..I’ve learned to focus 100% on what I’m doing that very minute….I’m developing strength in my left hand...I spend time with the videos in the evenings and always find something more to help me. I’m not looking for info anywhere else. Everything I need is right here in The Woodshed. You say “Jump” and I say “How high.” I’m so grateful I found you. You speak in a language I understand.
I am a 61 year old physician, reconnecting with the classical guitar after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. After a couple of weeks [in the program], I’m now producing a much clearer, yet somehow more mellow and beautiful sound. It was really good to feel it happening in my hand, and that it felt more comfortable and somehow “right”, compared to the way I had played before (“curved picking”). The fog started to lift and I found that I was remembering more, and it felt great (also a bit of a relief!), giving me confidence to keep going. Thank you for making your course available - your love of music and the guitar shines through the teaching. I am very happy I found and registered with CGS.
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