Voltaire on the Most Courageous Decision Each Day

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

“The most courageous decision that you can make each day is to be in a good mood.”


Learning guitar can be like taking a part-time job as a punching bag.

We seek challenges and strive to meet them. And this means constant difficulty and failure.

The difficulties are chosen, and the failures are small. But we still have to contend with them.

If we’re not careful, we can slip into patterns of negative self-talk. In our heads, we may whine and grumble. We may pine and woe. We may argue and fuss.

And these responses feel safe. They bolster our egos. After all, it’s not “me” at fault – it’s “my hands” or “my mind” or “my ________”.

When we criticize, we take the high ground and feel superior. We point the finger and somehow feel better.

So all the inner cussing is a defense mechanism for our egos.

But what other option do we have? After all, everybody does it, right?….

Perhaps a more useful attitude is: “Wow, this is harder than I thought.  Yippee!”  We embrace the challenge and know that success is (eventually) inevitable.

Author Brené Brown says that joy is the most vulnerable emotion. And to be vulnerable, even alone in a room with our music, takes an element of bravery.

This is why Voltaire calls optimism courageous. And he also names being in a good mood a decision.

Trial and error are necessary parts of the learning process. It’s a package deal.

But we get to choose our moods. We get to decide – in each moment, with each new repetition, with each new note.

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 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 beautifully. Click here for a sample formula.

Hi Allen,
Greetings from the UK. I would like to thank you for providing such an excellent resource. The effort and skill which has gone into creating this program is very evident. I started classical guitar a year or so ago with a teacher but was unable to commit to same time regular slots each week.

The Woodshed Program was exactly what I was looking for. I have found the site very intuitive and well structured and have taken your advice and started from the very beginning of the program whilst still practising some of the pieces I was already working on. It is clear that I will benefit greatly from these early technical studies. There were clearly weaknesses and gaps in my knowledge even though I am still at an early stage. Once again many thanks for the program and very best wishes.

-Rodger Paylor

For the first time ever, I have achieved great tone on my acoustic guitars. I've been studying fingerstyle guitar and music theory for about one year now. Tonight is the first time, I feel quite satisfied with my ability to produce a nice clear tone when striking the strings with my right hand fingers. By following your training videos in the program, I'm gradually developing my fingerstyle playing ability. KUDOS to you, Allen Mathews.

-Joaquin Kenyon

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