mother teresa guitar kind words
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Mother Teresa on Using Kind Words

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

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Mother Teresa

For some reason, it can be easier to speak kind words to others than it is to speak them to ourselves. All too often, we bark commands or scold ourselves without mercy.

Master film-maker Ken Burns has three reminders for himself and his family:

This will pass. Get help from others. Be kind to yourself.”

And he is quick to admit that the third is the toughest.

In the lifelong project of guitar, there will be challenges. We work at the edge of our ability as a matter of course. Trial – failure – adjustment. These form a perpetual cycle that leads to learning and progress.

And for most of us, life has a way of filling our schedules and shouldering guitar practice to the side. It takes diligence and creativity to keep a practice going. Sometimes, we’re forced to take a break, whether we like it or not.

So it matters what we say to ourselves when we don’t succeed. What we say in the hard times affects how long those hard times last.

When we use kind words and language to ourselves, we stay more engaged and curious. We feel motivated. We experiment more confidently. We’re more likely to take new risks and brave new territories. And we’re able to keep working at new skills, even if we don’t see the results yet.

Guitar is something we do for fun, intellectual stimulation, and physical challenge. It’s not “necessary” – it’s a bonus in life. As such, we can keep it lighthearted. Serious, yes. But lighthearted.



allen mathews classical guitar

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarists, 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.  Between the two, 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 beautifully.


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!


-Nusret Aydemir

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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