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Oscar Wilde on Moderation and Excess in Guitar Practice


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


“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Oscar Wilde


We strive to be prudent and rational. We aim for temperance and restraint.

And most of the time, this is well and good.

But on occasion, we need to balance all this moderation with some healthy excess.

The ideal guitar practice touches on several areas of study. It may contain technique, new pieces of music, older pieces of music and more.

But what about those days when our minds aren’t in it? On those days, it can be therapeutic to dig into scales or exercises for the entire practice. We can get out of our heads and into the physical challenges of moving our hands. We can take the mental load off and put the physical load on.

On a different day, we may not feel like doing scales or exercises. We may become enamored with a new piece of music, and want to spend every minute working on it.

And that’s perfectly fine. Wonderful, even.

Someone once said of dietary choices, “It’s not what we do one day a week that matters – it’s what we do six days a week that counts.”

And the same holds true in guitar practice.

We can aim for a well-balanced practice routine. And if we hold to it most days, we can safely go “off the rails” once in a while.

Problems only arise when we ignore important areas in our practice. As long as we’re getting our “minimum daily allowance” of everything, we can skip a day here or there and not see any ill-effects (just like overeating on holidays).

Even more dangerous than occasional excess is constant rigidity. We’re in service to our musical growth, yes. But we’re also in service to our whims and passions. (At least in moderation!)








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.




I came on board three months ago and I’m loving it more than ever. I have maintained my practice pattern. I’m sticking wholeheartedly with the program as written. That makes it easy to see what I NEED to work on rather than just playing the shiny places I’ve gone beyond…..I’ve learned to focus 100% on what I’m doing that very minute….I’m developing strength in my left hand...I spend time with the videos in the evenings and always find something more to help me. I’m not looking for info anywhere else. Everything I need is right here in The Woodshed. You say “Jump” and I say “How high.” I’m so grateful I found you. You speak in a language I understand.


-Gloria Mader

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.


-Mike Barron



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