Rachmaninoff on a Lifetime of Music
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
Music is enough for a lifetime – but a lifetime is not enough for music.
When we hear phrases like “Music is enough for a lifetime” it’s tempting to dismiss it as an airy platitude. It may sound fluffy and insubstantial – a lovely sentiment, though not very practical.
But learning and practicing an instrument makes for meaningful work. It’s rewarding and fulfilling. It allows us to rise above the daily mundane and strive for something purely for its own sake.
By working on our music, we work on ourselves.
Rachmaninoff was one of the great pianist-composers of the twentieth century. And he was known for his willingness to do the hard work. He braved slow practice and instilled quality and honesty at every step.
This wasn’t always “fun” – in fact he sometimes thought of it as drudgery. But still, while the work on any one day may have been difficult, it sweetened life. It offered a deeper satisfaction that made it worth it.
One of the great benefits of music is that we can never know it all. Given endless lifetimes, we would still not exhaust its frontiers. There is always more to learn, more to know, more discovery, more insight.
This takes the pressure off. With no final peak to conquer, we’re free to simply enjoy the ride.
It doesn’t matter how far we get. It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) time we spend each day. Whatever we do adds to our quality of life.
Each practice offers the opportunity to focus and work. Each note offers up the chance to put our intentions to the test, to do our best. Each movement is a moment to cultivate quality and step toward mastery.
We don’t always control our situations. We don’t get to choose all the cards we hold. But the incremental growth of a regular practice can smooth the bumps and lighten the load.
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.
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.
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
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