Viktor Frankl resilient guitar
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Viktor Frankl on Striving for Worthy Goals


“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.”

Viktor Frankl

When scientists created the Biosphere 2 in 1991 in Arizona, they noticed something strange. Trees would collapse before maturing.

At first, it baffled them. After all, the situation was perfect. The trees had all the nutrients they needed. There were no diseases or harsh elements. So why would they buckle under their own weight?

As it turns out, trees need the stress of wind. Responding to wind encourages trees to grow “stress wood”. And this is the wood which keeps them stable and upright, able to stretch out and seek more sun.

Likewise, we wither and weaken without meaningful struggle. We thrive on challenge and creative problems. These keep our minds alive and spirits lifted.

This doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games. In any given moment, it may be physically or emotionally taxing.

But overcoming obstacles and finding our way forward is what humankind does best. And most of us these days only get this chance when we choose it.

We have the option of living in what Frankl calls a “tensionless state”. But for a fulfilling and personally meaningful life, we need a worthy goal.

Music is such a goal. Guitar is a whetstone against which we can grind and hone ourselves ever sharper.

Through small daily actions, repeated over time, we reap the benefits of a life well-lived. We grow our own “stress wood”, become more resilient, and are able to grow stronger and reach further.



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.


Hello Allen,
I feel my guitar proficiency is improving considerably. Every day I’m exceedingly comfortable with my right hand technique and overall fluency. And my sight-reading has improved as well. Thank you for creating the Woodshed. It’s thoughtful construction and scope and sequence of knowledge and skills has advanced my guitar skills significantly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


-Michael Immel

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


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