Nile Rodgers on Good Times, Good Living, and Good Practice

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

“Don’t be a drag – Participate! Clams on the half shell, and rollerskates!”

Nile Rodgers (Chic)

Good times! Is this not one of the main reasons we play guitar? Ultimately, we’re looking for a good time.

But what does this mean? Are we supposed to smile the whole time? Laugh out loud and slap a knee? Not necessarily.

For good times, in any area of life, we engage. We participate. We give it our full attention and energy. Even in “passive” good times, like reading or watching a movie, we immerse and focus.

On guitar, this means if we clap and count a rhythm, we do it aloud, using our voice. No pulling punches.

When we face challenging bits, we lean in. We explore from different angles. We may toy with fun rhythms. Or we may use the Add-a-Note method.

The important part is that we bring our full self to the task at hand. We do our best. We’re serious about our play, like children.

This doesn’t mean that every practice goes well. It doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes miss the mark or feel frustrated. But it does mean that we take full responsibility for our attention and energy.

Classical guitar is no easy feat. The key is to enjoy the process of learning. Like a yard dog with a hambone, we can relish knawing away at our scales and pieces.

And this becomes its own reward. Practice becomes our favorite part of the day. Good times!

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 other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, 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.

Great Work!!!  I thank you sincerely for all the effort you have put in and the terrific work you do for the classical guitar community.


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

-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

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