lao tzu 3 great guitar practice
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Lao Tzu Shares His Three Greatest Treasures

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


“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

~ Lao Tzu


Our greatest treasures are simplicity, patience, and compassion? Is this true? or is this a fuzzy zen koan?

How do we apply this to our own guitar practice? How can this help now?

Simplicity: Not a full piece of music. Not a line. Not a measure. Just a note. One note, well played. Then the next.

Not dozens of exercises – just one exercise for now. Maybe another later.

Not all the scale shapes in every key – just one, with full attention on each movement.

Patience: Our current level and ability is fine. We shouldn’t be any better than we are. We shouldn’t have practiced any more last week than we did.

We can practice now. And tomorrow we can deal with tomorrow.

It’s not a race. It’s just guitar.

Compassion: We do our best. And our best differs from one day to the next.

Criticism, guilt, shame – these are all worse than useless. They are unnecessary and harmful.

Instead, we can speak to ourselves as we would small children we love. Understanding. Forgiving. Supportive.

Lao Tzu calls these three things our greatest treasure. And all come from within. All are choices we are free to make. They don’t require money, or time, or extra training. We can enjoy these now, here, today.



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.


Since a year ago with my subscription to CGS it has been for me a pleasurable adventure and a discovery of all the facets of the classical guitar.
Your dedication and enthusiasm, as well as your talent, in the tuition is quite contagious (well, lets hope also for your talent) and has made it fun and useful in my progression. Also the weekly tip that you mail us and the Facebook group is excellent.


-Michel Donnet

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


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