Sal's flamenco soapbox
 

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About me

A simple teaching philosophy

I reasoned that if I can't stand bullshit and just look for stuff I can actually use to help me play guitar, there must be other people like me in the world who want the real stuff without all the fairy floss. My philosophy regarding reaching guitar is simple:

 

"pick up that guitar and let's play something ...NOW. Never mind all the theoretical fluff and endless talking about it."

 

Who do people search for basic flamenco standards that don't exist?

By it's very nature, flamenco is an evolving art form and also a personal form of expression. So many people think that there are just a couple of rasgueados and only one way to play tremolo. The truth is there are many ways to make similar sounds on the guitar and many different techniques for playing rasgueados. And what about the finger pattern I play PMAMI? That's wrong isn't it? Isn't it supposed to be PIAMI?

 

To my knowledge, the secrets of guitar technique were not given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of engraved stone tablets. It is OK to find your own best methods, even if they do not agree with the the most commonly taught methods.

 

What about sitting positions? There is only one way to hold the flamenco guitar, isn't there? Namely, with the bottom of the guitar resting on the thigh. Paco Pena uses this traditional sitting position and I favor it too. But Paco de Lucia, Sabicas and others have their own unique sitting positions that are totally different to tradition and to each other.

 

Right and wrong is an urban myth

What I do and teach is the way I do it. It is neither the "best" way, nor the only way, or even the most common way. It's just my way of doing things based on my experience. If you can use it, great. If not, move on. I make a point of telling people to use my techniques as starting point only and to find a good teacher to develop a technique that is suitable for them. Everyone's hands are different. There is no single, gospel or best way to do something on the guitar. The best advice is "just play the bloody thing" and stop intellectualizing about it. Make your music sound the best you can and play with feeling. This is what transfers to the listener, not the theories or technical details. Let the classical guitar players worry about "correct" ways of sitting.

 

I will never forget watching a classical guitar student set up for his recital. He fiddled around for 5 minutes adjusting his footstool, arm protectors, music stand and last minute nail filing. Life is about living and playing a guitar is about expressing yourself with feeling. At the end of the day, comparing yourself to someone else or getting hung up about fiddly details like optimal footstool height (that have nothing to do with making music) is a total waste of head space.

 

It really saddens me when someone leaves a message on my You Tube videos and says that I am not doing something right according to their highly subjective definition of "right". "Right or wrong" means nothing to me, especially when such comments come from classical guitar players who seem to be brainwashed with institutionalized "correctness". It's no good trying to explain my deviant behavior in terms of personal interpretation. If it's not played exactly as written, or exactly like the original artist it is automatically wrong as far as these stiff necked critics are concerned. End of story.

 

Mamma Mia. Give me a break. I feel like saying, "There is a life out there, go get one." But what's the point? Occasionally I get a comment that is intended to be plain nasty but instead comes across as incredibly funny. Check this one out. It was left in response to my Angie video.

 

it is terrible i hate it it sucks donkey dick its crap crap crap errrrrrr shit terrible it makes me want to punch my computer ughhh horrid

 

Geeeez.

Somebody call this guy an ambulance. It sounds like he's about to have a cardiac arrest.

I couldn't stop laughing

 

Stuck up snobs

With regards to information, I do not have vested interests to taint the outcome of my research. As a teacher of flamenco guitar who has been faced with many strange enquiries from students who want it straight from the hip, I am instinctively driven to share my findings and conclusions in plain English. That's it in a nutshell. I have come across so many self proclaimed "experts" who are not only unwilling to share, but are also stuck up snobs who ignore emails and letters. I say self proclaimed because they proudly display academic letters after their name. It's their subtle way of saying, "Be amazed, I'm an expert". I don't want to be like that. Life is too short for that sort of ego-based nonsense. Conversing with intellectuals can be a pain and you may have guessed I prefer the intellectual company of real people at street level who have a sense of humor and an easygoing outlook on life.

 

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