Paulo Coelho guitar practice
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Paulo Coelho on How to Gain Musical Experience

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


“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

Paulo Coelho


When we’re young, we try on different identities. We bounce from one world-view to the next. We experiment with fashion, language, expression.

As we grow, we look back and think, “Well that was silly.” or “Did I really do that?”

This is all part of the grand game. It’s how we grow up. When we try new things, we succeed or we fail. But either way, we gain experience.

In our music, we do the same. Or we can.

It takes time and experience to make mature musical decisions. It takes work to slow down in just the right way, to bring out a certain note just so, to infuse energy and meaning into a series of notes.

We can follow recipes for these things. We can apply formulas and methods. And these are a wonderful place to start.

But we also need to experiment. We need to, as author Paulo Coelho said, be brave and take risks.

In the safety of our homes, practicing in isolation, bravery seems unnecessary. But to try new things, to be expressive in new ways – these things are scary. They feel dangerous.

It’s much easier to just play the notes and keep our blood pressure steady. It’s much easier to do the logical work and avoid the more human elements of music.

But with the courage and risk come new experiences. In time we become more comfortable exaggerating the swells and fades, playing faster than prudent, and singing and conducting to clarify new ideas.

Experimentation is the cost of admission to the world of experience.


“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

Paulo Coelho




allen mathews classical guitar

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 beautifullyClick here for a sample formula.


Allen: Just wanted you to know I have thoroughly enjoyed The Woodshed program. I'm in Level 1C and love how every part works together. It has improved my "general" playing already.


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