Robin Sharma on Excellence Over Time
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“Daily ripples of excellence over time become a tsunami of success.”Robin S. Sharma
What is excellence? How may we become excellent in our practice?
In the moment, excellence doesn’t always feel like anything special. We may not even notice it. This is because excellence is born of awareness and attention.
We release other thoughts and the dramas of life. We put our attention on the fine details of our work. We slow down enough to play what and how we intend.
Eckhart Tolle has said, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” And this also holds true in our guitar practice.
One way to exercise awareness in practice is to actively listen to the sounds of our playing. Not only the imagined perfection in our “mind’s ear,” but every little sound that comes from the guitar.
Awareness in practice means we hear every scrape, buzz and bump. We hear the tone quality. We hear the volume of each note and its relationship to the previous notes. We feel our fingers and muscles. Our thoughts stay on the current task.
Then, we seek to match these sounds and feelings with our imagined version of perfection. We usually know what we want to hear and feel. And in practice we hold these two renditions side by side, honing reality to match our mental interpretation of “right.”
Excellence in practice means we take care. We spend the extra minute shining light into the murky depths of a problem. We seek solutions.
The more aware we are, the more “wrong” we may become aware of. But this shouldn’t dishearten us, and instead can encourage us. Awareness itself is a long-term strategy that leads to better playing and more daily enjoyment.
As we accept the gap between where we are and where we want to be, we can release the end goal and focus on the work at hand. We can buttress the weak spots and hone the strong. We can practice for its own sake – a lifelong puzzle with which we tinker and toil, happily and pleasantly, like tending a garden or sailing a boat.
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.
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!
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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