A Few Words About Flamenco Guitar Lessons In General
It can be quite a challenge to find a guitar teacher who is able to teach you how to play genuine flamenco guitar. It's easier to find tuition for other styles such as classical or standard acoustic playing. This is largely because flamenco guitar is a specialised way of playing and much less commonly known.
This problem or imbalance also exists where online video guitar lessons are concerned too.
Let's Look At The 3 Principal Reasons Why
- The techniques used in flamenco are quite different from those of classical guitar especially where the strumming patterns and right hand techniques are concerned.
- Unless you live in Spain (preferably Andalucía or Madrid) you'll find that most guitar teachers are wholly unfamiliar with the style especially since many of the techniques required to play even beginner pieces from the standard repertoire take years to master.
- Music schools and academies tend to run curriculums for classical guitar only - this is an established and well trodden path. Universally recognized and accredited degrees in flamenco guitar are less common.
With the absence of a suitable teacher to go to personally most people will turn to the internet or books and DVDs in order to teach themselves as best they can. This is an approach which will work however it requires a lot of self motivation and students must be careful not to develop bad playing habits which could severely hamper their progress later on. Easier said than done when without the watchful eye of an expert teacher hovering over you!
Here's An Example Of A Flamenco Guitar Lesson For Beginners
What Specific Techniques Will Lessons In Flamenco Guitar Teach Me?
Flamenco lessons will certainly teach you many similar techniques to that of classical guitar but also many others which are entirely specific to the genre of flamenco itself.
The most famous of these are Golpe techniques where you use your fingers to tap on the body of the guitar, either above or below the strings, as you play. The taps are performed to coincide with the accents in the rhythmic meter being employed which will typically run over 12 beats. They are organized into sets called "compas". In order to protect your guitar from being damaged from the extensive use of Golpe hits over time, flamenco guitars are fitted with a transparent tap plate called a "Golpeador", a very thin clear sheet of plastic (with a square shape) which sticks to the guitar and protects the wood.
Rasgueado is another technique synonymous with flamenco guitar playing. It's a particular type of strum performed with outward flicks of each finger in rapid succession one after the other. The aim is to achieve an evenly spaced roll which is very fast and reminiscent of the dancers feet or castanets.
Alzapua is a technique employed by the thumb, it can be used for playing single notes or in a strumming motion across multiple strings. When both are combined quickly it results in a unique sound.
Flamenco will also commonly use a Capo, or cijilla in Spanish, which will increase the brilliance of the guitar sound while also changing the key of the piece in order to better suit the requirements of a singer.
Tremolo is taught commonly in both classical and flamenco guitar exercises however the flamenco method does differ from the classical one in that it's played with a right hand pattern of p-I-a-m-I. This technique is rather hard to master and can often take many months, even years, of dedicated practice to perfect.
Students studying flamenco will need to have a high level of self motivation in order to succeed in the style. Obviously the earlier you start the better you tend to be later on in life but flamenco guitar can be learned at any age assuming you have the patience and desire to follow all the way through with it.
Daily practice is a must and it should form a habit which is consistent day after day without interruption. The value of having a good teacher who can not only play well but also understands how to teach correctly is invaluable and should you be lucky enough to find one near to you, you'll be the envy of many other people trying to learn flamenco guitar on their own!
Assuming this isn't possible however you should use the power of the internet to take online flamenco guitar lessons and combine with the books/CDs and DVD courses. There are quite a few of them out there.
When learning any new guitar style the most important rule to obey is to practice it slowly and perfectly. Being able to read TABs fluently is important however if you really wan to get serious then you'll need to be able to read music. Flamenco is a genuine art form in music with a long and serious repertoire. Much of the most serious instruction, especially from years gone by, is printed in music notation only.
The key when teaching yourself is to seek out multiple sources to learn from, in other words, it's great to combine flamenco lessons with a tutor plus online video lessons as well as books and DVDs all simultaneously.
Flamenco Guitar Music
When I was growing up I was in the lucky position of having a father that loved flamenco guitar music. Over the years he had collected many vinyl records from some of the greatest flamenco guitarists at the time and at night we would listen to them on the record player.
Even though today I have many pristine digital recordings of solo flamenco artists on my computer those scratchy, analog, earthy and warm 12" records are still my favorites. The sound would almost have you believe that you were in the same room as the artist. They are not perfect recordings, they are human and this only serves to increase the intimacy of the music.
Flamenco is raw, percussive, passionate, fiery and full of soul. When you put it together with the cultural aspects of Span - the food, the countryside, the way of life, the romance... the wine. You get an irresistible mixture!