John Maxwell teaching experience guitar

John C. Maxwell on How to Learn from Experience

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

“Experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is.”

John C Maxwell

We all have our “blind spots”. Even though we’re intelligent humans, we can still make the same mistake time and again.

There is a reason why Einstein’s definition of “insanity” has become cliché – it’s true.

And we all know this. So why do we so often fall into the trap? Why don’t we always learn from our experiences?

Perhaps the answer lies in ritual. Do we have a ritual to evaluate our experiences and grow from them? Or do we assume that we’ll absorb the lessons without trying?

It takes time and attention to evaluate an experience. It may be just a few seconds, but it still takes the effort and intention to spend those few seconds.

Over time this can become a habit. After any experience we’ll remember to run a quick evaluation. But for most of us now, it helps to add some extra structure and organization. For this, we can ask questions and answer them.

For example, after an especially rewarding guitar practice, we could ask:

What happened to make this time feel so rewarding?

What did I do differently than usual?

Was anything different in my environment? My energy levels? What and why?

And looking forward, what can I do to encourage this type of practice in the future?

For an especially difficult practice, we could ask similar questions. Even the most basic questions are beneficial: What worked? What didn’t?

The more we learn from our experience, the better experiences we’ll have. And to learn more, we can evaluate more. This can happen in the short term, such as after a single practice. And we can evaluate over a longer term, such as every two weeks or more.

This is one of the main benefits of taking lessons with a private teacher, or using a formal reflection system – we regularly evaluate.

These periodic reflections magnify our learning and lead to deeper understanding. And this brings more positive growth and progress. It spurs motivation and enjoyment. It keeps the mental gears lubed and the belts spinning.

“Experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is.”

John C Maxwell

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.

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.

-Mike Barron

Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.

-Karen Richardson

Become a Member and Play More, Beautifully!

“The basics are the basics, and you can’t beat the basics.”
Charles Poliquin  

Join the program that takes you from the beginning fundamentals to advanced mastery, so you…

  • Move your hands safely and fluidly

  • Enjoy fulfilling practices and meaningful work

  • Play beautifully with expression and flow

Click the button to take a step towards an organized, effective guitar practice. >>>

Featured Courses

jesu bach classical guitar

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

One of the best loved of all classical pieces.

See more...

read music guitar high positions notes

Play and Read Music in the Higher Positions

Learn to read music and identify notes on the entire neck.

See more...

how to play segovia scales

Better Technique, with “Segovia’s Favorite Scales”

Detailed explorations of this popular technical tool.

See more...

« » page 1 / 2

See more…