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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

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.




I practised your system for three days, and it solved the I-M alternation problem I had been struggling with since I undertook classical guitar three years ago.  Many thanks!


-Johnny Geudel

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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