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Posts: 729
Joined: Oct. 13 2004

teaching methods and materials 

I was thinking about recent thoughts from:

El Burdo “The mechanics have to be practised of course, but I can see it's better done in context, generally practising techniques/lines etc from actual pieces of music or improvising over known ground”.
JasonM “I spent a lot of time learning new falsetas or pieces and obsessing over my tone instead of working on refining and pushing my limits with a metronome. I just moved on to a new falseta when I got bored and now I can’t remember most of them anymore.”
Johnnefastis “Just hammer the basics and remember you only really need good compas a couple of falsettas and and you can really join in with stuff.”

At the good old age of 66 and still a beginner I need to use my time wisely. So, I had a look first at my accumulated materials gathered over the years. I’m sure many have equally big piles. But while many of these suggest they are structured courses built by people claiming years of teaching experience, they (if you followed them from start to end) simply crash you through a dozen palos. Many palos getting just two or three A4 sides.

So, I find myself always on the look out for good practise materials from a wide range of sources. Two examples:

The other day a guy who offers an online course, sent me an exercise (free, I don’t pay him - yet). It was basically a scale. But it had a few scale variations and some simple bits of bulerias you could add to the start, middle and end. It had tab, script materials, and fast and slow video. And it sounded musical. It is something I can use overtime to learn a technique, to drill it, and expand upon it – and not get bored.

By contrast I found an arpegio exercise that to me sounded about as musical as a dead parrot. And described as a basic arpeggio practice exercise it suddenly switched to arpeggio on strings 2, 3 and 4 just once.

Maybe there are just too many guitar players who can’t earn enough gigging or recording, and thus with no real teaching talent they knock up an online course, or publish a “learn Flamenco guitar” book.

Anyway, I find myself at the moment with 2 flamenco online courses (with both I can get feedback using skype or equivalent), and my man in Jerez who I just have fun 90 min sessions practising and he spots technique errors). But I still find the need to hunt exercises. That's because I refuse to play something I think sounds terrible or boring.

Sorry that ended up longer than I thought but I feel better now . Just wondered what others felt? And any thoughts on if the huge drop out rate (someone here said 90% I think) is in a large part down to the quality of the teaching methods and materials?



nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2019 9:09:48

Posts: 14899
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: teaching methods and materials (in reply to flyeogh


Maybe there are just too many guitar players who can’t earn enough gigging or recording, and thus with no real teaching talent they knock up an online course, or publish a “learn Flamenco guitar” book.

What happens is most teachers, we get excited about some new discovery that helped us over come some obstacles and feel compelled to share that specific thing... of course it only works the same for the students that are at the same place as us or a few steps behind. The brilliant idea might be totally worthless to many students at different levels. In the past I’ve talked against all the method books I have seen because they are simply not efficient for flamenco style. They function as tools no different to me than transcription materials, in fact might be less inspiring even.

The reason for the drop out rate being high is because of the depth of what’s required and difficulty overcoming the various milestones. It can be very discouraging even for pros. Even at my level I had a “F this flamenco dance sh1t!” Moment a few years ago. The only thing that helped me brush it off was a private conversation with McGuire who had experienced the same frustration as myself with the same individual years ago. If things get boring or discouraging it’s good to put them aside and look elsewhere for inspiration, maybe take a second look at it at some point down the road with a fresh and informed perspective.

As far as basic exercises, Gerardo Nuñez shows in the Encuentro video lots of useful things that sound beautiful and function in some context. Even his chromatic scale things were more musical than the typical stuff.


CD's and transcriptions available here:
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2019 11:57:44


Posts: 58
Joined: Mar. 11 2019

RE: teaching methods and materials (in reply to flyeogh

Well, I'm only at age 45, but I had similar problems. Tried many methods, read many books. And finally I came to think, to learn an instrument and play music is same as sex:))) Not for fun (well, not only), but I can't pick a better metaphor.

Because after all, everybody has to figure out, what is working for himself and what is not. And the best advice one can get from somebody who did, is how he found his working way. Because chances are great, what he founds, and works for him, is useless for you. Just like in sex.

Therefore I finished looking for exercises. I'm now looking for interviews, storytellings with musicians I have high regard, how they find the working ways for themselves. And filled with his inspirations, I start to listening myself, and make MY exercises.

Here is may way to good sex:)))))):

My learning method is something like reverse engineering. First and foremost I imagine the sound what I want to hear when I'm playing. I try to imagine as sharp as possible. How the notes are to sound, how the left hand fingers positioning on the fretboard, how my right hand moves. And how these complex movements creates music. I do nothing serious till I'm not seeing this image sharp enough.

Then I try to play. If it's sounds what I imagined, then everything's fine, I have nothing to do, just play.

But if it's not sounds right, then I get a metronome, and try to play it slowly. If the problem is a minor one, fingering, wrong beat counting, or something like that, slower accurate playing will show it.

Then I try to fix it, because if I can't play it slowly with a metronome, I will never be able to play it in tempo.

If it's still sounds wrong, I'm looking for the section contains the problem. Start working on this section, looking for the error(s) I make.

If I found it, try to fix it as slow and accurate as it needs to be. Only that section. Because, if I can't play a section, I never be able to play the whole piece of music.

If it's still sounds wrong, then I make a sequence of the problematic phrase. If the problem is kind a musically thing, I make a little study exercise. If the problem is technically, I have to make a technical exercise. Because if i can't play it as an exercise, I never be able to play it as music.

And this is the bottom. Playing this exercise(s) will solve the root of my problem. Then I can move forward, and try to play the section. If it's fine, moving on to slow and accurate playing. And if it's sounds well, I can play in tempo, and it will sounds good.

So, my answer in short is this: the good exercise is corrects your playing errors. Maybe it can solve by some nice musically thing. Maybe it needs to be a boring technical study.

It depends on the level of YOUR playing error needs to be solved.

And, since nobody on earth knows better what is your playing error than yourself, the best and most efficient exercise for you is what YOU make for yourself.

This method is, what I found for myself. Maybe it works for you too. Maybe not. Or, maybe just give you some inspiration...

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 29 2019 15:48:46


Posts: 42
Joined: Jun. 9 2016

RE: teaching methods and materials (in reply to flyeogh


And any thoughts on if the huge drop out rate (someone here said 90% I think) is in a large part down to the quality of the teaching methods and materials?

Yes, there is a lot of good material in the sea of all material but finding good ones is time consuming. It is nice to have access to teachers, if one can afford, who can help with that.
However, it is also probably because of "expectation vs reality" . I got interested in flamenco from watching the greats and thinking that , oh if I practice regularly (about 1 hour everyday) then I will get somewhere in a couple of months or maybe 2-3 years in the worst case. Duh, I could not be more wrong. 4 years have passed and I am still a beginner doing exercises :)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2019 6:14:43

Posts: 729
Joined: Oct. 13 2004

RE: teaching methods and materials (in reply to himanshu.g


if I practice regularly (about 1 hour everyday) then I will get somewhere in a couple of months

Love it. I must admit I didn't go that route. I thought if I did my 2 months of an hour a day I could learn to play 30 seconds of cool stuff. As the chicks gathered around I pretend modesty and stop playing. Then move on to "Do you come here often?"

Seriously, and to be fair, most of the courses and profs I have come across talk of enjoying the journey and none have claimed that there is a PdL in each one of us. But as you say ambition can get the best of us. I've always been an optimist.

My latest on-line course (only my third ever) offers a one hour chat session (about 8 to 10 members seem to join) with the prof answering questions and demonstrating techniques. As most people seem to learn in isolation I think this is a good way to go. To me that is 50 hours of sessions in a class of 10, plus the online materials, for less than 200 Euros a year.


4 years have passed and I am still a beginner doing exercises :)

himanshu but you're still in the race I know that after several start-stop attempts over 15 years I'm now making more progress than I dreamed of. Back 1st Jan I thought, due to aches and pains of age, I'd probably drop barre chords beyond P1, four finger rasqueos. stretchy chords, and tremelos on other strings than high-E. With the lessons I've had, time I've put in, these are all back on the table. Not saying I've cracked them you understand

Well back to practise. Got a bit of tennis elbow so will be lots of right hand for a few days.


nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 30 2019 8:48:29

Posts: 215
Joined: Mar. 17 2015
From: Virginia USA

RE: teaching methods and materials (in reply to flyeogh

Hi Nigel, I am probably in the same Flamenco situation like you. I started taking Flamenco guitar lessons with a local teacher at the age of 66. I stopped after about 6 months because he moved a little further away from me, and plus the fact that he wanted to steer me into playing rumba. Then I took up Skype lessons with Ricardo for a period of about 18 months. He basically taught me what I wanted to learn. If I wanted to learn Siguiryas palo, he would teach me that, rasgueado, no problem, etc. All these Skype lessons with Ricardo have given me an idea about the depth of flamenco and the skills required to execute it. So 4 years after starting, I am still a novice but I go at it very religiously, 2-3 hours every single day. My goal is not be become a professional guitarist, instead a humble goal that I become good enough to hear Flamenco sound coming from my guitar and to play for a small group of friends at gatherings. My goal also does not include that I play the piece in its entirety. The difficult parts would be left out and used as exercises like another foro member suggested. Initially I only wanted to learn 3 palos: Solea, Alegrias, Farruca. The four guitar vacations in Sevilla in the last two years certainly have helped my continued enthusiasm for flamenco. So now Bulerias, Tango and Siguiryas will be given more practice time. When in Seville, I was more interested in learning playing compas with the various techniques of the right hand,rasgueado, picado, arpegio, tremolo, golpe, pulga, azapua, all right hand techniques. The Seville teachers also taught me some falsetas but I do not spend much time learning them, especially I have to look at the fingerboard to pick out the notes. I’d rather learn the falsetas from the transcriptions of Alain Faucher. Learning from the music notation is much easier for me and less time consuming. How much progress have I made? Some. All I know is I play better than last year and the year before. But most of all I enjoy the music, the journey and challenge each new piece presents. The planning for the next guitar vacation will keep me excited.
Nigel, I do not have a single flamenco method book. In short, I learned the compasses and right hand techniques from the teachers, then I open the transcription of the piece I want to play and start learning.

Sent from my iPad
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 1 2019 12:38:18
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