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.

Allen Mathews

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 beautifully. Click here for a sample formula.

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

Hi Allen, I am thoroughly enjoying your website and I find it is just what I need in my renewed passion for classical guitar. I have rediscovered a great love for this instrument and the music I can learn and play and it has changed my life for the better dramatically! Thank you facilitating this process.

-George Rogers

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