terence mckenna guitar practice

Terence McKenna on the Perfect Online Guitar Lesson


It’s fun to not know things. It’s entertaining to research and explore on the internet. We can sample a thousand ideas, and ping-pong from one to the next.

Someone once said that, “Satisfaction is the death of desire.”

We want the satisfaction, but we also enjoy the desire. And therein lies the rub.

When the satisfaction requires effort, we may avoid the work and feed the desire. This is the trap.

When we read a new article, watch more Youtube videos, or shop for a new book, we feel like we’re accomplishing something. It feels like progress, even though we end up at the same place we started.

To “face the answer”, as Terence McKenna said, we have to pick up our guitars and do something.

If we want to play better from musical notation, we have to look at notes on the page and play them on the guitar. There’s no substitute for practice.

If we want better flexibility, we don’t need to scour the web for the perfect stretch. Instead, we can do whatever stretch comes to mind. It’s the doing that’s important. We can always refine later.

Of course some methods and techniques ARE better than others. But if we’re not in the habit of acting on what we discover, we probably won’t use the better method either. Instead, we’ll convince ourselves that we need to do a little more research.

We already know enough to dive in. And even if we’re not “doing it right”, we still benefit from time spent with fingers on strings.

Even if we have to go back and re-train our movements later, we still get the enjoyment of practicing guitar now.

It’s fun to surf and browse and read and watch. But it’s deeply satisfying to see improvement in something we work at for the love of it.

“The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.”

Terence McKenna

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.

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

Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.

-Karen Richardson

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