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James Patterson on Emotion and Character in Music



“Am I tough? Am I strong? Am I hard-core? Absolutely. Did I whimper with pathetic delight when I sank my teeth into my hot fried-chicken sandwich? You betcha.”

James Patterson


Throughout our days, we don many hats. We are the worker, the lover, the hero, the apprentice. We are the current, the ex, the hopeful, the seasoned.

We manage our inner and outer reputations with the greatest care – even as we craft the facade of not caring.

We form our identities and cling to them like life-rafts. There are places we go, and others off-limits. We build armories around the areas we sense may be powder-kegs. We don’t talk about them. We change the subject.

But as musicians, our job is to accept and cherish the full range of human experience. Music allows us to experience the emotions and feelings that may be missing in our daily routines. Music can confirm and clarify nagging notions. It can be a salve, or a lance.

Brené Brown once suggested that happiness is the most vulnerable emotion. It takes courage to savor a moment, knowing it will end. Self-preservation steps in to protect us from the loss, and in doing so dampens the joy.

It takes bravery to relish a high, then remain open to the following low. It takes strength to go places that don’t feel safe. It’s far easier to play it cool and pretend those places aren’t real. Or not real for us.

Maya Angelou said, “We are all human; therefore, nothing human can be alien to us.”

As we explore our music, our experience and enjoyment expands to the extent we embrace empathy.

When we seek to understand and communicate without reserve, we give listeners (and ourselves) the greatest gift – a reminder of what it is to be human.


“Am I tough? Am I strong? Am I hard-core? Absolutely. Did I whimper with pathetic delight when I sank my teeth into my hot fried-chicken sandwich? You betcha.”

James Patterson









Allen Mathews

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.




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