Learning various specific techniques of Flamenco guitar (alpazúa, rasgueados..) I always prefer musical exercises for instrument technique, avoiding mechanical exercises. I make a point of drawing from other repertoires (Villa-Lobos or Léo Brouwer’s classical guitar studies, for instance). Special attention is paid to the student’s posture to promote a relaxed position and avoid bodily tensions. For more advanced students I also offer less conventional techiques learnt from other guitarists or developped in a number of my compositions.
Flamenco is a very rich musical culture ryhmically. Working on Flamenco rythms is always enriching for musicians hailing from other musical traditions. I lead them to discover the various ryhmical cycles proper to Flamenco (compases) This can be done without an instrument, by clapping hands.
With its use of open strings, Phrygian mode, or specific dissonance, Flamenco is interesting from a general harmonic point-of-view. This work interests jazz players but classical guitarists as well who approach the ‘impressionist’ or classical Spanish repertoire of the late 19th century (Debussy, Ravel, Falla,..)
They are a key point in a Flamenco guitarist’s training, and are full-fledged disciplines. Without a singer or dancer during a class this work is limited, yet I deem it necessary to learn the basics of accompaniment in the various styles (palos) we work on.
Developping a student’s creativeness via various improvisation practices. These improvisations are mostly oriented and help internalize certain rythms and harmonic progressions. The practice of free improvisation for less advanced students is a powerful tool to tackle musical problems early on before having acquired a solid technique.
Improvising helps demystify the sacred aura of composing. I encourage students to rapidly discover their instrument on their own and keep certain ideas in mind for later compositions. Repertoire arrangement makes difficult pieces easier for students wishing to play them.
Commenting on musical excerpts with students, reflecting on the musical background of the pieces we study, and learning a few basic notions on Spanish and Andalusian culture : I strive to awaken the student’s curiosity by letting them explore different musical aesthetics, whether they are linked or not to Flamenco.
My teaching is essentially oral and based upon imitation. Although I seldom work with scores, I still teach my students the notions of musical theory necessary for playing the guitar.
Constructing a programme, thinking about how to present pieces and how to behave onstage. Establishing a work schedule for the weeks leading up to a concert, presentation or competition. Psychological preparation and how to handle stress caused by performing before an audience.