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”.
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?
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.
These warm-up and stretching exercises are helping me a lot! Because I’m a software developer I have to stay 8 hours typing on a computer keyboard, so I use my hands a lot during the day. At night, when I have some time to practice the guitar my hands and arms are usually in pain because they have been working a lot during the day, but I’ve found that doing the warm-up/stretching exercises in The Woodshed releases me from this pain and I’m then able to practice after doing them.
You are building a very interesting and working guitar course, because for what I’ve seen so far it really works!
-Ulysses Alexandre Alves
Hi Allen, just wanted to provide some feedback. Since I've started doing the exercises [in The Woodshed program] my guitar is sounding a lot better, with fuller sound, less effort. Its as if I bought a new guitar or got a new pair of hands (or both). Amazing my friend. Thank you!
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