quincy adams guitar practice

John Quincy Adams and the Magic to Make Difficulties Disappear

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


“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

John Quincy Adams


The challenges we face learning guitar can feel impossibly large. Like standing at the foot of the Hoover Dam, we may feel small and unequipped for the task ahead.

And it’s true: we usually cannot conquer such obstacles. Not directly anyway. Not all in one go.

But we can take the next small step in front of us. We can take the next micro-action that moves us ever-so-slightly forward.

Our job as musicians is to make these small advances, day after day. These small steps bring us ever-nearer to what once seemed like unrealistic goals.

Of course we would prefer to have it all and have it now. This is human nature. But through patience and perseverance, we move first past one obstacle then another.

From the outside, the finger and musical acrobatics we manage can appear as magic. But this is to those who see only the results of our work, and not the process.

Behind the scenes, it’s the simple act of showing up on a regular basis. It’s directing our attention and time toward the incremental improvements. One detail then the next.

And as process is all there is, we can embrace the daily routines. We can care less about “finishing” a piece of music, and more about the process of practicing the piece.

In time, the piece emerges. In time, the “difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish”. And we wake to find ourselves a little further down the path.


“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

John Quincy Adams




allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


This is the ideal starting position for me. As a relative beginner with no teacher this is helping me enormously in developing good technique and not falling into bad habits. I no longer feel (A) That it's a struggle to learn a new piece and (B) That I am alone in my endeavors. My advice is to try The Woodshed program. It is fantastic and will not only bring up your playing but his explanations of musical concepts as you go along put things into perspective.


-John Andersson

For the first time ever, I have achieved great tone on my acoustic guitars. I've been studying fingerstyle guitar and music theory for about one year now. Tonight is the first time, I feel quite satisfied with my ability to produce a nice clear tone when striking the strings with my right hand fingers. By following your training videos in the program, I'm gradually developing my fingerstyle playing ability. KUDOS to you, Allen Mathews.


-Joaquin Kenyon


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