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 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.


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.


-Brian Davey

Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary.  Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice.  He is a very good,and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning.  I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.


-Peter Buck (r.e.m.)


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