voltaire courage practice
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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.”

Voltaire

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 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.


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

I came on board three months ago and I’m loving it more than ever. I have maintained my practice pattern. I’m sticking wholeheartedly with the program as written. That makes it easy to see what I NEED to work on rather than just playing the shiny places I’ve gone beyond…..I’ve learned to focus 100% on what I’m doing that very minute….I’m developing strength in my left hand...I spend time with the videos in the evenings and always find something more to help me. I’m not looking for info anywhere else. Everything I need is right here in The Woodshed. You say “Jump” and I say “How high.” I’m so grateful I found you. You speak in a language I understand.


-Gloria Mader


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