A serious tempo school for a guitarist

For two days I was asked to help my friend Maria, who runs a flamenco school in Tallinn. We have been performing together for a few years but this time she asked me to participate in her special Farruca-class to accompany her students. Usually they practise with music from CDs so it was a special occasion. I know, one flamenco dancer can make a sound to beat a guitar orchestra, so what about 15 of them? It went fine though.

I was repeating sections and different parts of the Farruca and didn’t feel bored at all. I’ve thought about it before and it came to me again: accompanying dancers should be a must for all guitar students. Especially the classical guitarists who mostly play alone and don’t have to keep an even tempo. And believe me, they even cannot do it. Last week I listened to our students’ technical exams and problems with rhytm and tempo were among the most common ones. Yes, they have chamber music classes but playing together with a bowed instrument or a wind instrument doesn’t help. Those instruments have slow attack enough to let the guitarist still fool around and pretend to play.

When we started my Dance Album project I had thousands of serious sessions with metronome, dancers, clappers, percussionists etc to make it clear to myself – accompanying a dancer demands extreme precision. Imagine that a dancers jumps up and you are not ready with your next chord. A singer could wait for you but not a dancer who’s in the air! If you think that as a rock guitarist you don’t have those problems then it is not completely true if you’re not a bassist. These guys together with the drummer have to be real pros while the soloists can float around as they wish.

So I will try to find a way to get my students at the Academy to accompany dancers. It’s a pity we don’t have dancers at the academy but I’ll find some, no problem.

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