The Tao of Guitar Playing

Since an early age I have always been interested in Zen and Taoism.

Reading about these philosophies and later on applying and incorporating them into my life changed everything…

…from teaching guitar, practicing guitar, songwriting, performing, relationships, friends, marriage, parentship, business to even the smallest details that make part of my life.

My guitar playing got so much better and my guitar playing life got so much more fulfilling because I let everything go.

I let go of everything that I thought I needed to do, everything that I was afraid would happen if I would not live up to my expectations. I let go of approval, reputation, money and my limited believes that were taught by my envoirment. I finally got everything without trying to get it.

The philosophy of Taoism and Zen makes everything in life so much more pure, enjoyable and above all it makes you feel free. Free from your past and future burdens that you constantly carry with you.

When you free yourself from regrets (past) or expectations (future) which takes daily practice, you’ll start thinking and feeling differently after a while.

Things become easier. You’ll grow without trying to grow and you’ll succeed without trying to succeed. It’s the way of the Tao.

Don’t believe my word for it but try it yourself. Here are some of the philosophies from the Tao Te Ching applied to the guitar lifestyle design.

Read slowly and thoughtfully:

– Play guitar for fun, let go of goals and expectations and you’ll unlock the mystery.

– Be Yourself. Don’t compare or compete with other guitar players.

– Stay behind everyone else and you’ll be ahead.

– Teach guitar but don’t control. Teach without being present. Have faith in the student.

– Let go of all things, manifestations and succes and you will be perfectly fulfilled.

– If you care for people’s approval of your songs or guitar skills they will always be in control.

– Allow things to come and go. Let the tao of guitar playing take it’s course.

– Do not seek, do not expect, be present and welcome all things on your path.

– Stop thinking and all difficulties will end.

– Have no goals and you’ll succeed in everything you do.

– If you do not hope or expect, you will never be dissapointed and your spirit will remain light and free.

– Express yourself fully and then be still.

– Haste makes waste. Go slowly. Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

– Be free from any plans or think about where you are heading. Let the tao lead you wherever it wants.

– Accept what is there and the Tao will work for you.

– Keep setting goals and there will always be more to be done, stop setting goals and nothing will be left undone.

– When you see you already have everything and that everything is enough then everything is possible.

– Practice guitar, write a song, record, perform, teach and then step back.

– Let the Tao unveil.


  1. Javier Alonso says

    I completely agree. Empty your mind, unload your heart, and all flows differently, by itself. And it applies to everything, not just guitar.

  2. Rob says

    Hi Klaus,

    Great wisdom and you send them just at the right time; the Tao already worked for me, thanks.


  3. Wu says

    Thank you so much for this beautiful message. It light my soul. Thank you.
    I was thinking about to translate this blog in my own language ; French. Do you think it’s possible ? Keep me informed ;)

  4. says

    Thank you Klaus
    Like Rob this message came at exactly the right time.
    Thanks for taking the effort to share something that really helps.
    I was struggling to enjoy performing my work, but this helped more than I could have imagined.

    Thanks again.

  5. Don Cook says

    Just found your site today and am totally amazed. Great site and I agree with the philosophy. It will be visited regularly.

  6. says

    Hi Don,

    If we could all live by just one of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching we would be happier guitar players and have a better world to live in. :)

    Best regards,
    Klaus Crow

  7. Bryan says

    I found this article through something I found on StumbleUpon, and really enjoyed this message. I have been trying to get better as a guitar player for years, and I have found that “letting go” of striving recently has really helped me develop. Keep up the encouraging “work.”

  8. Hiram says

    In 1962 I was 14 & had been playing for about 1 1/2 years and my teacher put on a recital – typically music and dance schools do this as a way to bolster student confidence but also as a marketing method. My teacher, Guy Smith, told me to take the attitude expressed in “If you care for people’s approval of your songs or guitar skills they will always be in control.” when I took the stage. Been doing it that way ever since – it’s powerful!

  9. Lou F says

    I have to agree with the idea of playing while calm, it’s usually when I can really hear what I’m doing.

  10. Norbert says

    For those who wanted this in french:
    Depuis son plus jeune âge, j’ai toujours été intéressé par le Zen et le taoïsme.
    La lecture de ces philosophies et plus tard sur l’application et les intégrer dans ma vie, tout a changé …
    D’enseignement de la guitare …, la pratique de la guitare, écrire des chansons, jouer, relations, amis, mariage, parentship, des entreprises aux moindres détails qui font partie de ma vie.
    Mon jeu de guitare a tellement mieux et ma vie a jouer de la guitare tellement plus gratifiant parce que je laisse tout aller.
    Je laisse aller tout ce que j’ai pensé que je devais faire, tout ce que je craignais se passerait-il si je ne serais pas à la hauteur de mes attentes. J’ai laissé aller de l’approbation, de la réputation, de l’argent et ma limitée estime que furent enseignés par mon envoirment. J’ai finalement eu tout sans essayer de l’obtenir.
    La philosophie du Taoïsme et Zen fait tout dans la vie tellement plus pur, agréable et surtout elle vous fait vous sentir libre. Libre de vos charges passées et à venir que vous transportez avec vous en permanence.
    Lorsque vous vous libérer de regrets (passé) ou des attentes (futurs) qui prend la pratique quotidienne, vous pourrez commencer à penser et de sentir différemment après un certain temps.
    Les choses deviennent plus faciles. Vous deviendrez sans essayer de grandir et vous réussirez sans essayer de réussir. C’est la façon de le Tao.
    Ne croyez pas ma parole pour elle, mais essayez vous-même. Voici quelques-unes des philosophies du Tao Te Ching appliquée à la conception de style de vie guitare.
    Lisez lentement et pensivement:
    – Jouez de la guitare pour le plaisir, lâcher des objectifs et des attentes et vous débloquerez le mystère.
    – Soyez vous-même. Ne comparez pas ou en concurrence avec d’autres joueurs de guitare.
    – Restez derrière tout le monde et vous serez en avance.
    – Apprenez la guitare mais ne contrôlent pas. Enseigner sans être présent. Ayez foi en l’étudiant.
    – Lâchez tout, les manifestations et les succes et vous serez parfaitement accompli.
    – Si vous prenez soin de l’approbation des gens de vos chansons ou des compétences de guitare, ils seront toujours en contrôle.
    – Laisser les choses aller et venir. Laissez le tao de la guitare prend son cours.
    – Ne cherche pas, ne vous attendez pas, être présenter et d’accueillir toutes les choses sur votre chemin.
    – Arrêtez de penser et de toutes les difficultés se terminera.
    – N’a pas d’objectifs et vous réussirez dans toutes vos activités.
    – Si vous n’avez pas espérer ou attendre, vous ne serez jamais déçu et votre esprit restera libre et léger.
    – Exprimez-vous pleinement et ensuite encore.
    – Hâte fait des déchets. Allez-y doucement. La nature ne se dépêche pas, et pourtant tout est accompli.
    – Être libre de tout plan ou pensent savoir où vous vous dirigez. Laissez le tao vous mènera où il veut.
    – Accepter ce qui est là et le Tao va travailler pour vous.
    – Gardez l’établissement d’objectifs et il y aura toujours plus à faire, arrêter de fixer des buts et rien ne sera laissé de côté.
    – Quand vous voyez que vous avez déjà tout et que tout est assez alors tout est possible.
    – Pratique la guitare, écrire une chanson, enregistrer, jouer, apprendre et prendre du recul.
    – Que le Tao dévoiler.

  11. Mike Campanile says

    Thank you for this post and this website. I’m going through a tough learning curve right now of finding myself as a musician and transitioning from intermediate to advanced skill. Because of that I’ve been surrounding myself with musicians who are better than me and consequently comparing myself to them even though their songwriting style is different. So I’ve been questioning myself and not feeling 100% motivated, confident and most importantly in love with my guitar playing like I have been this year. This post took a little weight off of my shoulders and my mind, a bright spot in what has otherwise been a down week for me. Can’t thank you enough.

  12. says

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    de cette soirée qui vient jamais tu vas voir c’est pratique pas pas encore peut, devant sa webcam comme
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  13. says

    I have just found this post from a google search. I have been influenced by the tao recently, and its teachings have had some great impacts upon not only my playing, but my life in general. Thank you for such a great post and I will be following this site closely!

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