Matsuo Basho Guitar practice
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Matsuo Basho on how to improve at guitar

 

Do we need to be inventors or statesmen to find inspiration in Ben Franklin? Do we need to draw and paint for Leonardo Da Vinci to touch our lives?

Masters and mavericks serve us best by example.

They show us that it’s alright to be curious. It’s alright to experiment and fail (a million times over). It’s alright to be human, and it alright to rise above expectations. It’s alright to go for it.

Matsuo Basho was the most famous Edo-period poet in Japan. And he would tell his disciples to absorb but then disregard everything they learned. He even dismissed his own work. It was the seeking that was more important than the learning.

And it doesn’t have to be so serious. Even Basho allowed himself to be lighthearted, with lines such as, “now then, let’s go out / to enjoy the snow … until / I slip and fall!”

We can look to others for guidance and we can benefit from their experience. But the main ingredient to create what they’ve created is to constantly seek clarity and perspective.

With all the information available to us these days, advice is cheap. Real progress happens when we put our hands and attention on our guitars.

We can seek to hear more accurately and honestly. We can strive to stay more present and aware of each movement of a finger. We can gently steer our focus back to the task at hand when in strays.

So the “what” is less important than the “how”. And the “how” is less important than the “why”. If our purpose in playing guitar is to master our bodies and minds, the guitar can’t help but follow.


“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of others, instead, seek what they sought.”

Matsuo Basho




allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.


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

Great Work!!!  I thank you sincerely for all the effort you have put in and the terrific work you do for the classical guitar community.


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