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Michelangelo on being nit-picky with practicing


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


“Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle”.

Michelangelo


As we learn guitar (classical guitar especially), we manage many different areas. Technique, tunes, practice methods, personal discipline, and on and on.

When the list feels long, it’s easy to gloss over the fine details. Before we know it, we can fall into the trap of “ticking the boxes”, instead of savoring each item.

Beautiful music is made of tiny details: The connection of one note to another. Thoughtful decisions about a phrasing or fingering. Every little movement in a stroke of the hand. A seemingly obsessive preoccupation with trifles.

In our practice, we can give ourselves permission to nit-pick the trifles. It’s okay. Good even. It’s these little explorations that make the music so much more meaningful. And it’s these moments of curiosity and experimentation that make daily practice such a joy.

PS: If you like, next time you’re about to jump to the next thing in your practice, pause and consider whether you could go a little deeper before moving on. Could you focus more deeply on some small trifle? How close in can you zoom?








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.




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,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.


-Rodger Paylor



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