mark twain guitar practice
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Mark Twain’s Secret of Guitar Progress


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain


It takes a certain amount of “oomph” to go from zero to one. To go from standing still to moving forward.

Picking up the guitar and playing the first note can be the hardest part of practice.

But once we’ve begun, we start to gain momentum. And before long, instead of pushing ahead, we feel drawn forward.

However, there may be a trap…

Even though we know that “The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best time is now”, we may still hesitate.

It can be just like first getting into a cold pool or approaching someone we’d like to meet. We may feel reluctant or downright averse.

But once begun, we gain momentum and remember what drew us there in the first place.

Robert De Niro gave it straight: “Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.”

Learning classical guitar is a daily exercise in getting started. Anything we can do to make those first notes easier (routine, practice space, organization) helps us to move ahead.

This way, day in and day out, we inch forward and enjoy progress in meaningful work.


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain




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.


Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


-Gregg Olson

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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