marine guitar practice
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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

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 beautifullyClick here for a sample formula.


Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders

Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!


-Nusret Aydemir


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