The following is the answer of Ruben Diaz to a letter of a flamenco guitar ¨teacher¨ in USA who wrote that:
¨Paco de Lucia’s works are not important at all to learn flamenco guitar nowadays, hence its old-fashion and bogus¨
Ruben Diaz answer:
The steps to improve in our guitar practice are:
1) To be aware of the obstacle, or bad habit, or whatever you want to call it.
2) Once we find the location and whereabouts of the problem, we proceed to know what the solution is.
3) We decide to solve the mistake and we do it.
4) We check that it may not be happening again, eventually getting help of others who are cleared themselves from the problem or misconception.
5) We continue to create another good habit in replacement of the bad one.
6) We reach a position in which you do not have to bother any more for the thoroughly and already solutioned the problem.
That’s all I can humbly advise you to try, eventually, under proper guidance, every fault can be replaced with the appropriate thing. The most common problem is that we do not even realize that we may have any problem, or obstacle about how to accomplish properly our guitar practice. Some reasons for that are: 1) that we don’t want to ask for help, perhaps because one does not want to appear to the eyes of himself or others as ignorant of the particular question we may be in need for further information or knowledge or because we want to keep our Guruship on guitar. 2)Maybe we really don’t want to solution the problem, maybe we actually like the problem having become so used to it. 3) To convince oneself that “this is MY way to play”, or “life is like this”,or “anyway, many people is committing the same mistake if it is even a mistake, actually maybe is not a mistake it is a virtue that many people is praising me for that”, that’s it, that I like, or “this is the way that follows on how to play and practice stuff in the next generation”, the so called after Paco generation, or “Paco is old fashion, in Spain, there are many others as good as he himself, etc.”, “why should I accept a teacher?, I can do alone, I am myself the greatest authority on guitar, and I don’t need anyone else”,or “internet will solution the problem” etc.
Of course help by the association and approval of other people who are in our very same situation (which is the most common reason I have seen in my 25 years of experience).
So as you see, there are many details to become aware of, of course I clarify that I am not saying this is the absolute truth and that’s all, rather I am talking about my own personal experience with the guitar, so perhaps it’s only valid for me, but if any of these advices can help you to become a better player somehow or other, then I will be happy that I helped in some way to your guitarristic progress. I admit that, maybe, I am old fashioned because, in my time (which is before the internet era), when I learned what I learned, the current thing was to accept a teacher. And I don’t mean formally but really AT HEART, and follow his line without doubts. Now people generally do not want to accept or follow a teacher like that anymore. Nowadays things have changed a lot, in part due to internet alienation, or should we better say the cool inventions of technology?... People have accepted internet as their teacher and not any person or artist, and they consider and regard any and every opinion as same valid and true, like “we all have the same rights” etc. Many arguments they put forward in the name of freedom, equality etc. All these arguments, in my humble opinion, are not good in the path of learning but just to avoid the responsibility, respect, and discipline that goes along with accepting SERIOUSLY a teacher and follow what he says, and, therefore, finally get the desired results.
To learn guitar properly again, in my opinion, one HAVE to accept a particular teacher and line or style. But what I see nowadays is that, far away from accepting a teacher, people want to be their own teacher or they are even against the philosophy of accepting a teacher or line, they have no respect for that, so, they just do jokes about these people, others write or say malicious remarks to satanize the people like me, who are free from doubts and therefore are fully determined to accept a teacher, a line, and to honourably represent that line or teacher. For that kind of people this has no value at all. They just want to follow a mixture of 2 million different views, opinions, speculations and advices, as if everyone would have the same authority or knowledge, and, of course, they end up reaching nowhere on the guitar themselves, but they don’t mind to remain in ignorance provided there is granted to them the company, friendship, fellowship and consent of many people like them, with the same vague ideas and pseudo-convictions or misconceptions about guitar, art and composition etc.
In other words people with no identity, with no PERSONAL OPINION OR CONVICTION on any subject, they are all brain washed, so, they think that they know, when they actually not. That’s why it is next to impossible to even try to enlighten or help them, they don’t think that they are wrong or anything, nor do they even dream to consider the possibility that they could be wrong, so, they continue like this for years and years. I mean that people now a days is generally SUPERFICIAL and not deep, and that’s why they like to so-called learn guitar like that namely in emptiness and remaining empty of course. They like the light and democratic way of learning guitar, wandering and re-wandering with no guide, nor a really PERSONAL OPINION about whatever subject on the guitar you want to mention, from technique to composition etc.
As far as for me is concerned ,I don’t accept their easy and cheap philosophy, and, therefore in my life I didn’t do that, because, for me, learning guitar is like flying and airplane. Imagine what would happened if I try to learn to pilot and airplane on my own, or by getting some data I read in the internet as well as opinions of people that are not a pilots themselves but people that offer their cheap advices, and pose themselves as an experienced pilots; what would happen if I do not learn to pilot the airplane from a person that really is a teacher-pilot himself and knows how to fly?... Later, when I will know how to pilot, then I can fly on my own and not before that. That’s how I ,Ruben Diaz see things, that is what I can advise you to improve your practice on the guitar for now, I do it with all my heart and with the only intention to help you all, as I was helped with the precious gift of this advices from my teachers and generous preceptors on the path of the guitar and composition. The more you are inspired to follow, the more you will see the results. Please, at least meditate scrutinizing about what I just said and good luck. I encourage you and everyone that is reading this to try to get serious and determined into this adventure that is TO LEARN GUITAR.
Actually if you think ,to learn there are no limits , the only limit is our false pride , this obstacles that are in our path are unfortunately too common, and rather constitute the rule more than the exception, as far as studying and learning REAL Knowledge , in contrast to the BOGUS so called Knowledge, which is actually IGNORANCE DISGUISED AS Knowledge ,to get real Knowledge we need to be sincere , no cheating propensity, and most difficult thing to find WILLINGNESS TO ENDURE THE PROCESS OF GROWING MUSICALLY. Despite the amazing effort one has to do to resist the tendency of going for the path of least resistance, that is TO NOT PROGRESS OR, STAY WHERE WE ARE ETC: so one should be willing to do ANY sacrifice for the sake of getting Knowledge.
Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience.
And therefore as human being, it depends on what you want ,if you want to be cheated ,then destiny will provide the cheaters for you to enjoy this cheating business,and that’s just due to our desire to be cheated, can’t blame anyone. Anyway, provided, we have an open heart and a real interest in MUSIC and not in politics , you can achieve nice results .