Stephen Dick | Flamenco Guitar
With Manolo Sanlucar
El Carbonero de Jerez, the teacher who most influenced me.
A Note on Studying Flamenco Guitar
Thanks to a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, I had the chance to study flamenco guitar in Córdoba, Granada and Jerez. In each city, I was struck by how well the traditional method of teaching flamenco guitar reflects the art form.
Flamenco teachers in Spain rarely use books and they don't teach 'student pieces.' Student and teacher sit down face-to-face and the teacher shows the students how to play the same falsetas and rhythms they themselves perform. You learn flamenco as it is, not as it was.
Of course, beginning students get simpler passages and advanced students get the harder stuff. In either case the teacher expects the student to strive to play as musically as possible. Technique is taught in service of musicianship. As a result, the student doesn't sound like a student for long.
I use a similar approach in my own teaching, with one important difference. The average Spanish guitar student has been exposed to the best flamenco in the world for years before they take up the guitar. The rest of us have to learn about the world of flamenco while learning to play it. Unless they already have a strong background in flamenco, I tend to start out my students with Juan Martin’s El Arte Flamenco de la Guitarra. There are a lot of good books out there and I like many of them, but El Arte remains the best tool I know to help a student start hearing and playing flamenco.
I was a classical and jazz guitarist and composer before I took up flamenco.
As flamenco started to take on a larger role in my life, I realized that I would have to choose between these three styles. I cheated and chose flamenco. Flamenco contains all other musical styles that interest me. It has the expressive depth of great classical music, the spontaneity and intellectual challenge of Jazz, and the visceral power of rock. I still compose music in both the classical and jazz genres, albeit heavily influence by flamenco. You can learn more about my music on our website for our group
In class in a cave in Granada.