Encouragement for practice

“He wonders how so much water can resist the pull of so much gravity for the time it takes such pregnant clouds to form, he wonders about the moment the rain begins, the turn from forming to falling, that slight silent pause in the physics of the sky as the critical mass is reached, the hesitation before the first swollen drop hurtles fatly and effortlessly to the ground.”

Jon McGregor (in “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” )

There’s a popular science-class experiment demonstrating critical mass, whereby the teacher adds water to a full glass one drop at a time. As everyone huddles watching, the water refuses to leave the glass. Drop by drop, it mounds above the lip, defying gravity and common sense.

Until finally, one single drop breaks the spell and water spills down the sides.

Jon McGregor wonders at the celestial version: How do those clouds, which weigh more than whales, stay up there? He wonders at that magic moment when vapor becomes liquid, or as he puts it, “the turn from forming to falling”.

In our guitar practice, we wonder when our efforts will produce fruit. How many scales will it take? How many times must we play this tune before it flows like water.

We can never know, because that’s not in our control. All we can do is accumulate drops. One day, one practice, one focused moment, one clean repetition at a time, our part is to show up.

Over time, we gain mass. We grow. We build volume. And then in an instant, we make music, “fatly and effortlessly”.

This is from Allen Matthews of ClassicalGuitarShed.com


Wow, thanks Joshua

Allen Matthews newsletter is well worth subscribing to.

A few weeks back I hit one of my regular plateaus. i felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, was a bit bored with everything I’m doing and felt quite meh about the process. About a week ago, you wouldn’t believe the high I was on. One of my challenge songs I was finally singing and progressing super well after working on it for months, and even better, a song I’ve long dreamed of learning that I thought would be one of my hardest challenge songs ended up being fairly easy and I’m breaking out into song enthusiastically with it throughout the day. All I did was keep accumulating the drops. And trusting the process, I’ve been frustrated with my progress many times and had many moments of elation. Mirrors life in general.


Wonderful share, thanks Joshua. In my case the accumulation time before the music begins to flow (a bit) has been years.


Well, true that.

I think we need to be encouraged by small victories. Rather than a single large cup brimming over to fluid playing, it is more a cascade of smaller cups.

Fill one, wait for it to flow… into another cup.

But that is the gift that keeps on giving!

Keep on keepin’ on!


Nourishing brain food Joshua. Thankyou, you are a treasure :gift:

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Today I had one of those days where practice was tough and nothing was horrible, yet nothing really clicked.

I had to ask my self if my glass was half full or half empty…:roll_eyes:


It happens Joshua, the glass is always a little fuller than yesterday! Karma owes you an awesome practice day now!