James Allen Practice Approach
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James Allen on the Role of Thoughts, Dreams, and Reality

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


“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

James Allen


When we begin guitar, we hold a vision of ourselves in the future. We may not know all the details, but we sense the direction.

We create markers by which we measure success. These may or may not hold over time. But they are the best we can do with our current state of understanding and awareness. As we learn more, we sense more possibilities, and find new measurements.

And so our dreams and desires evolve over time. They pull us forward, and recalibrate as needed.

They are the precious fuel that keeps us going through difficult times. They are the lifeforce that drives our survival.

James Allen also said,

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”

The most rewarding music practice is one that holds the delicate balance between dream and reality.

We remain inspired and engaged. We continue to feel the pull forward. And we also stay rooted in the daily work. We are driven by dreams, and still remain grounded in the task at hand.

For each moment of practice, we stay in the moment – aware, curious, probing. And because of this positive agenda, we know we are moving also toward our larger desires.

When we accept and allow for slow progress, we can relax and focus. And this daily focus brings yet more progress.

If ever we lose the drive and spark, we can stop and reflect on our current balance between dream and reality. Make adjustments, and move ever on.



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 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.


-Gloria Mader

I practised your system for three days, and it solved the I-M alternation problem I had been struggling with since I undertook classical guitar three years ago.  Many thanks!


-Johnny Geudel


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