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Viktor Frankl on Striving for Worthy Goals


[Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!]

“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

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.




Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!


-Arnoud Reinders

As I said before, I think your site is outstanding. I have spent my life teaching adults difficult stuff that they really wanted to learn but didn't have the time to learn at the speed we teach university students. Thus I understand only too well how many hundreds of hours you must have spent perfecting your lessons to make my learning as quick and easy as possible.


-Mike Barron



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