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

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at ClassicalGuitarShed.com.

Those videos on practicing the piece were just awesome, Allen! I've always thought that learning songs might be something completely different than practicing exercises, but the way you teach it makes it much easier than I thought. I'm positive that joining the Woodshed has been the best investment I've ever done for learning the classical guitar. Thank you so much for these lessons.

-Ulysses Alexandre Alves

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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