www.spanishguitarschool.com – Flamenco Guitar Lessons
Today’s review is all about an online guitar course for those interested in Flamenco guitar! On his website www.spanishguitarschool.com, Nicolas, your instructor, offers an online course for acquiring the necessary skills to dive into the fascinating world of Flamenco guitar.
Nicolas started out with his classical guitar education in Belgrade then moved on to study at the Conservatorio de Música de Málaga in Spain after graduating at the Conservatori del Liceu Bacelona. He is nowadays renowned for his virtuosic Flamenco playing which is exactly what he teaches in his online course at www.spanishguitarschool.com.
During the course of this review, I will go through the general structure of the page and how it relates to the curriculum and material offered there as well as going over the general assumption that I had while gathering the material and then practicing it over the course of a few months. While doing so, I will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of this course as well as what the reader can expect and what the target audience may be.
Let’s fist start out with the target audience. This course goes beyond what is considered basic in many other guitar methods. It goes pretty deep into phonetics and how the individual tones and notes are derived from it. This does deepen the understanding of what it is that you are produce on your guitar, but at the same time raises the bar quite high. This leads to the assumption that the course is aimed either towards the ambitious student who is truly into music and wants to get a very solid foundation out of a course or the intermediate to advanced player, who already gathered basic knowledge on music theory and now aims to move on, getting deeper into that particular field. Considering the latter, this would make this course a master-class type course rather than an ordinary one.
Moving on to the general structure of the site, one does immediately notice the clear structure at the very top of the page. There, you can get some basic information about your instructor and his biographical references which further strengthens his competences in Flamenco and Classical guitar playing. Besides that, the site features a contact section as well as a live-chat plugin that allows you to contact your instructor very quickly. You will also get a brief instruction on how the method that Nicolas designed works out and what his philosophy is on teaching Flamenco guitar.
This leads us to the core of the site, the course material itself. The curriculum is structured in four sections that each work build upon each other, further strengthening your previously gained knowledge. The four sections are:
Harmony basically refers to the theoretical concept of what you will need to know in order to get into achieving a more flamenco-type of sound. You will start with the basic history of the Flamenco guitar before moving on to elementary theory of the guitar such as restringing your instrument, tuning the guitar as well as saddle compensation. After that, you are then introduced to the world of intervals and chords. You will learn what intervals are and how the relate to chord construction, the last section of the “Harmony”-section. This very section does go fairly deep in what is called harmony but at the same time gives very basic information as to how to restring the instrument and tuning the guitar. This leads to the assumption that the course is not exclusively aimed towards the intermediate player but also opens its gates for the ambitious beginner who wants to get to the essence of theory straight away.
After being equipped with the necessary theoretical knowledge, you are moving on to the “Techniques”-section of the course in which you will learn all about terms such as “picado”, “arpegio”, “tremolo”, “rasqueado” as well as “alzapua”. These terms are all well-defined techniques that are considered a core part of Flamenco music. In each sub-section related to a particular technique, you are given several video lessons in which you will receive explanations as to how that particular technique works and how to practice it.
Furthermore, you will also be able to see and listen to the technique being performed by Nicolas. This section goes beyond a basic introduction to a particular technique. The rasqueado part of this section for example, focuses on getting the basic technique right by focusing heavily on the wrist movement and distinguishing between different types of rasqueado. I found this part of the course particularly interesting as it may be considered essential to the success of the method.
After having learnt the basic theoretical knowledge and the proper technical tools, you move on to the “Styles”-portion of the course in which you will be able to listen to and learn more about the various styles that comprises Flamenco guitar, such as Bulerias, Tangos, Alegrias as well as the infamous Rumba. Each section features several mini-lessons that consist of rhythmic patterns and how to apply them in a musical context. In the Rumba lessons in particular, you will also learn about scales, improvisation as well as harmony. Furthermore, you will get a performance video of the masterful piece Entre Dos Aguas by Paco de Lucia and a breakdown video in which you will learn about the various parts this beautiful piece is comprised of.
The last part of the course is dedicated to the nail care and how important it is for your performance. Being able to get that soft and at the same time crisp sound of the Flamenco guitar is closely related to the proper maintenance of your nails that get into direct contact with the strings and thus influence the sound that you produce immensely. Here, you will learn how to ideally shape your nails and how to fix broken nails.
All lessons are brought to you in video format with supplemental material being provided underneath the videos. You can always download, print and review the material that you are given in each section to revise your knowledge gained in the lesson. Furthermore, you will have access to an ebook consisting of pieces, exercises as well as theoretical information that you will further solidify your knowledge on the Flamenco guitar.
Another important feature of the site is the built-in loop player that features a huge selection of samples that allow you to practice what you have just learnt over the course of Nicolas’ video lessons. These samples are of very high quality and make practicing much more fun and entertaining, both for you as well as your audience.
The site is subscription-based, which means that you will have to pay a certain amount to be able to access the site with its features. At the time of writing, there are three different levels of access that you can purchase. The first one is for the style section and particularly the “Advanced Rumba”. The second and third one is a full access that you get, with the only difference lying in having live online video conference lessons or not.
Before closing out this review, I would like to briefly summarize what I liked about Nicolas’ method as well as what I didn’t like that much or what I feel could still be improved or refined.
Let’s start with a few areas in which some adjustments could me make. In some of the video lessons, the overlay of the sheet music and notation that is meant to accompany the video lesson (i.e. further explaining and visualizing a particular concept or topic) was too dark and it was basically impossible to follow some of the notes. Another remark that I made is the lack of further exercises that give the student the opportunity to further practice a particular technique. This could be accompanied by some small studies that allow students to practice the technique in a musical context. This is particularly important for the beginner student, who cannot be expected to practice some of the more difficult techniques on standards Flamenco repertoire pieces.
After having spoken about some of the few negative points of the site, we definitely have to move on to the overall dominating positive part of the course. The material that is provided is of superb quality (despite these few, occasionally occurring negative points). The explanations and performances are of high quality and it is easy to follow and understand the concepts. Everything that is provided for the student, be it the accompanying ebook, the supplemental material, the outstanding loop player or the video lessons, is of high quality and truly fits in well within the curriculum and the overall structure of the course.
This course was a lot of fun to walk through and I definitely recommend this course to anyone who wants to dive into the world of Flamenco guitar. You are given a highly competent instructor who knows what he is teaching and who has designed an -easy-to-follow course that will elevate your playing to a new standard.
www.meridirhproductions.com – ‘cause music matters
This course was provided in exchange for an honest review.