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

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

Those videos on practicing the piece were just awesome, Allen! I've always thought that learning songs might be something completely different than practicing exercises, but the way you teach it makes it much easier than I thought. I'm positive that joining the Woodshed has been the best investment I've ever done for learning the classical guitar. Thank you so much for these lessons.

-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

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