Judge Learned Hand problem solving
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Judge Learned Hand on Musical Liberation and Freedom

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

“The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right”

Judge Learned Hand

The best way to go blind to an issue is to believe that you’ve already solved it, and for good.

When we “have the answer”, we stop questioning. And when we stop questioning, we stop learning. We stop looking, and therefore stop seeing.

A well-earned confidence comes from experience and familiarity with the challenge. As we progress in our studies, we naturally become more confident.

But we can remain confident and still accept the possibility that we have it all wrong. We can have what some call “Strong opinions, loosely held.” We can act with decisiveness and confidence, with one eye peeled for other possibilities.

In our music, we can fully commit to a fingering, technique, or phrasing. And as we do, we can also know that there may be a better way. Still, we have to do something, and until a better option presents itself, we can commit to the current decisions.

The well-named Judge Learned Hand calls this openness “liberty”.

And when we assume there are factors we don’t know, and possibilities we haven’t thought of, we are indeed liberated. Our egos and identities are no longer threatened by new information. We’re less likely to succumb to the “sunk-cost fallacy”.

This non-attachment to our beliefs can lead to curiosity, exploration, and new discoveries. And this can lead us to become more comfortable with the unknown. In this playground of openness and possibility, our daily practice becomes the adventure of a lifetime.

“The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right”

Judge Learned Hand


allen mathews classical guitar

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarists, 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.  Between the two, 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 beautifully.


Allen, your website and teaching methods are excellent. You have an easy going yet encouraging way of inspiring people to learn and practice their art. And you are always accessible to your students to personally answer questions. I appreciate ... that personal touch. The course on reading rhythm and playing higher up the neck I found particularly helpful. God bless you and many thanks.


-Joe Bazan

I have to say after over 12 months of one-on-one training with a teacher before joining The Woodshed, this is the first time that I feel I’m making technical progress.


-Nusret Aydemir


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