marine guitar practice

Joshua J. Marine on a meaningful life (and interesting challenges)

In studying classical guitar, we may as well embrace the daily work. We need not only accept, but relish the constant challenge.

Classical guitar is hard. It’s complex. It demands we perform finger acrobatics at breakneck speeds. It asks we not squeak or thud or groan. And it requests we turn out beautiful music in the process.

And why would we sign up for this? What’s so great about jumping through such flaming hoops each day in our practices? What payoff could possible be worth the trouble?

The answer is: just to do it.

It feels good to see incremental improvement over time. We enjoy getting better at something.

Financial icon Ray Dalio, in his book “Principles”, notes that improving at something over time is much more satisfying than any single accomplishment. He points out how the joy of the win (and his wins have been considerable) doesn’t last very long. The prize at the end of the road pales in comparison to the incremental improvements that come with practice.

And Joseph Campbell thought the same: “When you’re on the path, you’re at the goal.”

Of course not every day “feels” successful in the moment. Some days we may wonder if we’ll ever make it through. We question ourselves and suspect we may actually be getting worse. But showing up to fight the good fight can be the reward in itself (in hindsight if nothing else).

When we sink our teeth into classical guitar’s juicy problems, and overcome one little obstacle at a time, life does seem to have more meaning. A good practice can help the day feel fulfilling and rewarding.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Joshua J. Marine

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

These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.  

You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!

-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

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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