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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.

Sergei Rachmaninoff


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.








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.




Hi Allen, I am thoroughly enjoying your website and I find it is just what I need in my renewed passion for classical guitar. I have rediscovered a great love for this instrument and the music I can learn and play and it has changed my life for the better dramatically! Thank you facilitating this process.


-George Rogers

Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!


-Gregg Olson



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