Stewart Brand on Long-Term Projects – Good Things Happen Slow
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow.”
Stewart Brand is comfortable with long-term projects. He and The Long Now Foundation are building a clock buried deep in a mountain in west Texas. It’s hundreds of feet tall and is made to tick for over 10,000 years.
He even encourages using 5-digits for the year (02021) to give a reference point for our current place in time.
Classical guitar is a long game, if not so long as that. To play well takes well-trained responses. It takes habits of movement and control built over days, months, and years of dedicated work.
The progress we see in any one practice is often small. Even across weeks, we may feel little has changed.
And when we lack clear evidence of improvement? We may grow frustrated or disheartened.
In this event, it’s good practice to zoom out and witness the bigger picture. Chances are we have improved, it just doesn’t feel like it.
Knowing that classical guitar is a skill that happens over time, we can readjust our focal point. Instead of looking for short-term growth, we can judge our daily success by the quality of our work.
The key ingredient of effective practice is focused awareness. When we put our full attention on specific elements of our work, we progress faster. We have better practice.
We can put each movement or each bar of music under the microscope. And the stronger the magnification, the better. Where yesterday we used the 10x lens, today we look closer with the 30x lens.
With any long-term pursuit, the quality of daily work determines the rate of improvement. Small victories compound exponentially over time.
The work we do today matters, whether we sense immediate change or not. Each day is an opportunity to practice our focus. It is the chance to craft the fine details that will one day become automatic and instinctive.
In this way, we build a fluid technique and a lasting love affair with the work. We tune our senses and come to know ourselves better. It’s a slow process, but a good one.
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.
I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.
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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