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Hello again everyone,
Firstly, I'd like to thank Jon Boyes, Miguel De Maria, Anders, Patrick Escribano and everyone elso who contributed advice to my previous posts. Your help is greatly appreciated, as I know very little about Flamenco guitars!
My new question is this... should I seek guitar lessons from a proper Flamenco guitarist, or stick with my current teacher? My current teacher is not an expert in Flamenco guitar. He specialises in Classical guitar (and electric), but says he has taught a little bit of Flamenco in his time. He is familiar with a few Flamenco techniques, and I'd say he's pretty good at tremolo picking (as it is also used in Classical guitar). However, he doesn't claim to be able to do things like the Rasgueado. I have purchased a couple of tutor books (Mel Bay's "Flamenco Guitar: Basic Techniques" and "Flamenco Guitar Method for Beginners" by Anita Sheer and Harry Berlow), and these seem to be fairly good books for a beginner, and my tutor is happy to go through them with me. I also have the "Play Flamenco Guitar with Juan Martin" book and DVD, but tellingly, the title is "PLAY" not "LEARN", and the lack of detail on technique makes it a bit beyond my level.
My other option is to take lessons specifically in Flamenco technique at The Spanish Guitar Centre in central London. I spoke to the guy there, and he was like... "you should learn from the best" and "we have several proper Flamenco guitarists here". But then perhaps he would say that, as everyone's keen to make money these days. My current teacher says that I "probably wouldn't learn anything in the first 2 years" [or so] that he couldn't teach me himself, "even from a professional Flamenco guitarist", and that "after about 2 years, maybe then I might want to seek a professional teacher". But maybe he would say that too, for the same reasons as the other dude.
I feel I should mention that the 2 lessons (current teacher or Flamenco teacher) are approximately the same price. Also that I am a complete beginner when it comes to Flamenco technique.
If anyone has an informed opinion or some general advice, I'd be interested to hear it. Thanks.


Jon Boyes -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Jan. 31 2005 11:54:05)


He is familiar with a few Flamenco techniques, and I'd say he's pretty good at tremolo picking (as it is also used in Classical guitar). However, he doesn't claim to be able to do things like the Rasgueado.

Go to the Spanish Guitar Centre, no question.
If they have a Spaniard in their ranks who has worked in Spain, go with him. You are very lucky to have this choice!

BTW, the self tuition materials you have are not the best. The Juan Martin DVD is OK but you have already spotted the flaw in that one! Juans orginial video series (now also on DVD) is IMO far superior -lots of instruction and explanation. Graf Martinez method is great too, and a lot more modern in its approach. The trouble is if you get both, you'll be asking lots of questions like "should I do it this why or that..."

So I'd get booked up with a flamenco teacher first, then ask his opinion about materials to compliment your tuition.


flyeogh -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Jan. 31 2005 12:16:14)

I started with Steve Holmes at the Spanish Guitar Centre. Although Steve is not Spanish he ouzes flamenco. And one advantage was that you didn't need to bring your own guitar if you didn't want to (which when coming from work was useful). Now I have lessons with Mark Dennet in Bristol, also 100% flamenco (nothing against Steve, simply geography).

At the start I also enquired of a non 100% flamenco and immediately hit a problem. His approach was to sight read first and then progress on flamenco technique.

I started from scratch, no previous guitar of any genre but after the first lesson I had something very flamenco to practise and within a couple of months I could entertain myself with bits of Solea, Sevillanas, Tientos and Verdiales. I could appreciate Flamenco more. As Juan Martin says "you play flamenco with your soul, flashy technique doesn't make you a great Flamenco" (miss quote no doubt but you get the drift).

So my vote is the same as Jon, go with the Flamenco and leave the other guys to their thing.

But whatever enjoy. Good Luck


Thanks for your post... more good advice. Although I'd like to think that it's not just Spaniards that can can have a high degree of competency when it comes to Flamenco. I know several Spanish people, and I'd guess they are clueless when it comes to Flamenco. Nigel recommended his previous teacher (Steve Holmes) at The Spanish Guitar Centre. Apparently he's not Spanish (not sure if he's been to Spain or not... probably), but I certainly wouldn't hold that against him... if he understands Flamenco well, and is a competent teacher, then surely that should be enough? Take you for example (I'm assuming you're not Spanish)... I had a listen to some of your work on your website, and it seems pretty good. Perhaps you don't have as much knowledge as a professional Flamenco guitarist (Spanish or otherwise), but I'm sure you'd agree that a English person fluent in Flamenco technique and culture is a better teacher than a Spaniard that isn't.
Anyway, I think I'll look into what different teachers are available at The Spanish Guitar Centre. As you may be right that someone from an authentic Flamenco background (who has been immersed in the culture all their life) has a better understanding of it than someone who may have only come across the culture at a later stage in their life. However, I will keep an open mind and try an make an informed, rational decision of which of their teachers to use. I'll also look in to the Graf Martinez tuition books you recommended, and seek advice about them from the teachers there.
In the mean time, I may have to break the bad news to my current teacher...


PS. I know what you mean about the bends (in your "setting up my new guitar" post). These microtonal bends are used in some forms of rock and metal too (I think Pink Floyd used to use them quite a bit). However, I think they are easier to do on a guitar with a lower action, as you only need to "tweek" the string slightly, rather than push the string quite far toward the top of the fretboard. Correct me if I'm wrong, though...


Thanks for the advice... I'll bear it in mind. Good to hear from someone who's actually been to the place where I'm considering taking lessons from. And from what I hear from you, it seems to be a good place to go. Although I've been a little concerned that a great guitarist doesn't always make a great teacher, it's reassuring to hear that your teacher (Steve) was both competent and able to convey the essence of Flamenco music to you (even as a complete beginner to guitar).
Interesting that you had problems with a non-100% Flamenco teacher. My current teacher is good and patient, but I have to admit that it would be nice to learn from someone who can actually do the things that I want to learn... and the fact that you were able to play recognisable bits of Flamenco in just a few months can't be bad. Plus, not having to lug around a guitar on the train to central London would be an added convenience! [:D] Thanks again.


Jon Boyes -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Jan. 31 2005 19:40:29)


Although I'd like to think that it's not just Spaniards that can can have a high degree of competency when it comes to Flamenco. I know several Spanish people, and I'd guess they are clueless when it comes to Flamenco.

Hi james, if you re-read my post, you'll see I was referring to a Spanish pro flamenco, not just any old Spaniard [;)].

Yes, of course there are many fine non-Spanish players around too -there are quite a few on this forum! But ask yourself who taught them.

It was just if there was choice at the Spanish Guitar Centre, thats all..
I am sure the guy you mention will be great.

Dive in, and enjoy the ride.


gerundino63 -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Jan. 31 2005 20:29:07)

Hi James!

First of all, you can learn a lot from anybody, so I am sure the teacher you have can learn you a lot.

The one problem, that crosses my path as a flamenco guitar teacher, is, that somebody with a classic background who teach flamenco, is the different way of technique.

Some things for instance, a flamenco guitarist would play with the thumb, a classic player assume it to play it with their fingers.

When you learn that "mistakes" it is difficult to get rid off.

So, if you choose to be a flamenco guitarist, better go all the way, and take a flamenco guitar teacher.

Good luck!



Cheers Jon, I understand what you mean. And I certainly don't doubt that there are a few non-Spanish yet skilled Flamenco guitarists on this website. I think the best way to decide on a good teacher would be to pop down to The Spanish Guitar Centre and see if I can check the teachers' credentials and have listen to them play. That way I can tell who would be most suitable. And, if he happens to be Spanish, then all the better. If not, then so be it.


PacoPaella -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Jan. 31 2005 22:41:53)

I took a few years of lesson. This is what i can tell you:
- a good teacher will send you away after he showed you most of his stuff. I would funamentally mistrust a teacher who advertises himself like that because its obvious that his own interest is more important to him than your progress. Luckily i made different experiences, my first teacher told me theres no way i could stay with him longer than two years at most.
- many if not all flamenco techniques are fundamentally different in exectution, speed and force as well as "feeling" and sound from classical guitar - starting with the tremolo that you mentioned (flamenco tremolo is 1 bass and 4 trebles, whereas classical tremolo is 1+3 - sounds totally different). The longer you practice the classical approach the harder the way back will be.

my 0.02€,ymmv...


Thanks for your advice. I can understand that there are definite differences between Flamenco and Classical techniques. Also that it may be tricky to play or teach one technique when accustomed to using the other.
However, I don't want to put my current teacher down. Admittedly, he's seen better days... but apparently (he tells me) there was a time when he was "one of the best Classical guitarists in the country". Exaggeration or not, I do know that he's a competent and patient teacher. And if Flamenco was what I chose to study, then I'm quite sure he'd go to great lengths to ensure he's teaching me the correct techniques.
I suppose my only doubt is whether he's as familiar with the techniques of the Flamenco genre as I'd like my ideal teacher to be. And whilst he certainly isn't too competent in Flamenco technique, I could forgive that if he were very knowledgeable regarding it and reasonably good at conveying his knowledge to me.
However, I suspect your judgement (as with the other guys' posts) is right. And when faced with the option of a teacher who is knowledgeable AND competent in the genre for an equal price, its pretty hard to say no. Thanks for your help.



Thanks for your advice. I think what you're saying is that I should go for a Flamenco teacher rather than a Classical (as everyone else is also saying!). My current teacher didn't specifically say he'd send me away after teaching me everything he can. I asked him whether it would be advisable to seek a professional Flamenco teacher at this stage. He just said that he could teach me the basics, until perhaps some time in the future my technique became beyond his comprehension. In other words, he is generally familiar with the principles of Flamenco, but when I get to a level where I have to deal with more complex issues (such as "Compas"... I think that's what it's called!) I may want to seek guidance from someone who has a deeper knowledge of it. Which is fair enough.
Yes, I do understand that Flamenco techniques can be very different to Classical ones. Fortunately, though, my current teacher has been mainly teaching me Metal Lead (electric) guitar techniques (and at a basic to intermediate level), so I haven't really adopted too many Classical traits that I would have to change/re-learn when switching to Flamenco. But I do see the advantages of learning "the Flamenco way" from the start.
Maybe, what I think I'll do is to stay with my current teacher for electric and Classical lessons (as he is quite good at those). Then just take additional Flamenco lessons from a proper Flamenco teacher at the Spanish Guitar Centre. That way I get the best of both worlds.
Thanks for your help Paco! [:D]



I think you mean that I shouldn't trust the guy at the Spanish Guitar Centre who was advertising himself. It wasn't actually a teacher I spoke to, it was, I think, the manager or owner. He said the Flamenco teachers there were "pretty good", but he "didn't want to take business away from my current teacher"... so I guess he WAS interested in making money, but perhaps not to the extent that I wouldn't benefit from it.
As for my teacher being good for telling me that he can only teach me until I become too skilled... yes that is good, as he is honest... which I respect. But I suppose honesty ain't necessarily gonna make me a better guitarist... whereas a professional teacher might just do that. Thanks again.


Jon Boyes -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Feb. 1 2005 8:09:08)


Admittedly, he's seen better days... but apparently (he tells me) there was a time when he was "one of the best Classical guitarists in the country".

James there are so many alarm bells going off I am having difficulty hearing myself think.

No offence meant there, but you have made the right decision - metal from the metal teacher, flamenco from the flamenco teacher. A good teacher would not be offended by that.

I buy my chips from a chip shop, and not from McDonalds, where I get a poor substitute.



You are right, as usual. And I think it was Socrates who said that if you are seeking advice regarding a sick animal, it is surely logical to ask a veterinary surgeon (who is educated in such matters) rather than the layman in the street (who isn't). I don't suppose the principles of learning Flamenco guitar should be much different.
However, I'm not dissmissing my current teacher as a layman, as he knows more about guitars and techniques than I do. But, I'm beginning to think (as you say) that there are different teachers best suited to different things.
Although, apparenly he was a very good classical guitarist... he just stopped playing some years ago due to ill health. I'm sure he'll take the news fairly well when I tell him... especially since he'll still have my money from the electric lessons. Thanks again.


Thomas Whiteley -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Feb. 2 2005 5:00:18)

I have been playing guitar since I was 10, and that was 52 years ago. During that time I have studied several styles including classical and flamenco. Sometimes you are lucky and find a teacher who can teach. At other times you find a teacher who wants to make you a miniature version of them selves! And then there are the teachers - about 85% of them, who cannot teach you very much at all!

If you are truly interested in flamenco you should define what you want to do. Solo and accompaniment work are very different. In solo work you can do a lot of the type of things you want to do, while with accompaniment you had better know your business!

When you learn some basic techniques and a few palos then you are ready to go off on your own and truly learn! Listen to the type of flamenco music you like. Study the palo and its history. Most teachers do not teach anything about a palo – just play each note they set before you.

One suggestion I like to give is to study traditional flamenco first and then go on to what you are interested in. Starting with a few recordings of Carman Amaya would not hurt one bit! [:D]


Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. My current teacher is very capable of teaching. He is a good teacher, and importantly, he is patient. However, my main concern is that as he is not quite as enthusiastic about guitars as he used to be, he is less fluent in the techniques and cultures involved. For example, he knows only the basics of Flamenco, and is able to perform even less. So when it comes to teaching, we would rely heavily on tuition books. Whilst learning (with his guidance) from tuition books is an acceptable method, it perhaps cannot be compared to learning from the same books yet with the direct guidance of a professional Flamenco guitarist (or even one who isn't a professional, but is an enthusiastic and accomplished guitarist who is familiar with the culture).
As for which type of Flamenco I'd like to play, I have to confess that I edge toward the new school of Flamenco, which is, perhaps, slightly less traditional. And it is definitely the solo aspect that I wish to persue. Obviously, I am prepared to study other aspects of the genre if these will help my understanding of the music, and make me a better player. But ultimately, I may seek a teacher who is able to take me through the particular areas that I aim to master, rather than one who isn't. Thanks again for your help.


Skai -> RE: TAKING FLAMENCO GUITAR LESSONS (Feb. 13 2005 7:09:59)

This teacher of yours, from what you seem to describe, shoulgn't even be considered as a flamenco guitarist. He appears to lack the knowledge of the various palos which is VERY important, in my opinion.

Secondly, he sounds like the many classical/fingerstyle guitarists that learn a few basic flamenco techniques to use for Spanish pieces. Eg. Aranjuez, Sevilla, Asturias are all Spanish classics and thus the use of flamenco techniques will help interpret them better. But is that flamenco? No way.

Learning both, I've noticed many obvious differences between flamenco and classical, which makes a classical teacher unable to teach any flamenco. Do classical guitarists understand compas structures and all the techniques? I don't think so. And I'd prefer to start off with a proper flamenco guitarists to teach all the authentic techniques, rather than learn a farucca or malaguena from a classical guitarist by memory. I must say that your teacher isn't that great of he can't even pull off a single 4-finger rasguedo used so commonly in classical.

The Juan Serrano book you bought is horrible instructional material, mainly tabs to pieces without instruction. I have it too [:D] No technical or compas explanations. The Juan Martin method or Graf-Martinez one should do the trick.



Thanks Cheston,
It seems that you, like most people here, think I should go for the proper Flamenco teacher rather than my current Classical. I'll look into it.
But if anyone in the England can recommend a cheap stockist for the Graf-Martinez tuition book, it would be appreciated... I usually get all my books from www.amazon.co.uk as, generally, they are the cheapest, do mail order, and can supply second-hand copies sometimes. But they don't seem to stock this particular book (perhaps as it is an import) and the only second-hand copies available through them are in German. Perhaps someone else can suggest a better place...


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