Max Planck on the Path to Musical Happiness
“It is not the possession of truth, but the success which attends the seeking after it, that enriches the seeker and brings happiness to him.”Max Planck
So often, we postpone enjoyment. We decide (without realizing it) to be happy only in the future.
We say to ourselves, “When I can play this big piece of music, then I’ll enjoy playing guitar.”
Or, “When I get to the next level in my studies, then I’ll be able to feel good about my practice.”
We create ideas of “success”, then bring ourselves pain when our realities don’t match them.
This is a recipe for suffering and dismay.
Why? Because the feelings of accomplishment of a goal attained last only a moment. Then we start looking for a new, bigger, better idea of success. And the cycle continues.
Goals are useful, and we should look forward to playing our favorite pieces of music one day (or mastering in the current lesson, etc.).
But the real payoff of a musical practice is the daily experience. We get deep pleasure and enjoyment from asking the “How”, and “What happens if…” questions (then seeking the answers).
Guitar practice is at its best when we put all thoughts of the future from our minds. We instead make the goal to achieve the small challenges we set for ourself today. Then we bring our full awareness and attention to the fine details of our work.
If we start to feel “hopeless”, or that we’re “just not getting it”, this is a helpful alarm. This tells us we’re off-center.
Problems are inevitable. There will always be something difficult with which we struggle.
But the problem is not the problem – the problem is how we’re thinking about the problem.
To get the most from every day of practice (even the short practices), we’ve only to bring our full attention to meeting small challenges.
From these humble pursuits spring the peace, reward and joy of a life of music.
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 have lost my entire metallic sound while I am playing now. Even my single note practice sounds more melodious, less tinny. [The Woodshed technique practice] has made a major difference in my tone. Thank you.
Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good,and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.
-Peter Buck (r.e.m.)
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