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Who did this?



Due to flamenco being a difficult art to teach and to learn I was not willing to give a few hours of classes for starters. I used to say "what can you learn in an hour about flamenco?". 
But in 2006 a very good and creative friend of mine convinced me to do so. 
I was going to give a one hour introduction class to a group of 40 participants, aged between 10 and 70!  I asked them to form a circle and i stood in the middle telling them a brief history of flamenco. Then I said I was going to show them a short choreography and that first we had to study its rhythm. Since the students were already quiet shy and generally embarrassed, I did not tend to count already complicated rhythm. Just not to scare them. So I was saying "ta ti ti, ta ti ti, ta ti, ta ti, ta ti" in order to explain the 12 count rhythm in flamenco. But suddenly I had an idea and said "ta-til mi, ta-til mi? Ta-til, ta-til, ta-til"( translated: "Is it vacation, Is it vacation? Yes its, yes it is, yes it is"). There we were! Suddenly EVERYBODY in the class, from the old gentleman to that little boy, everybody had the rhythm in a matter of seconds!!! We were clapping our hands, hitting our feet on the floor to give the accents, singing the "song" and more importantly, smiling! In that short class I could teach the students soleà marcajes and a llamada. I was really amazed.
This experience taught me that the best way to teach a new thing is to go through something we already know. It is as if we get a new information using familiar tools, we can learn new and complicated things much faster than we can imagine. I believe the reverse is also true.
One year after the above experience, I was preparing my classes in Seville, Spain. I was planning to teach 'Bulerias' to my new students. I again decided to explain the rhythm through a song, this time of course in spanish and this sentence came to my mind: "qué quieres, qué quieres? Nada, nada, nada" (what do you want, what do you want? Nothing, nothing, nothing"). The first half of the Bulerias compas seems as if it's a question and the second half is a response, resolving the first part which stays in the air. That's why I was paying attention that the sentence was a question and response sequence. The class consisted of spanish, italian, swedish, french and british students. Again, ALL the students got the rhythm very fast, and at the end of the three month course period all my students were able to dance the choreography on their own, starting on the correct moment! The only thing is that they wanted me to change the nada (nothing) part to todo (everything) :)
Last year I had to give a rhythm class in The Netherlands. This time half of the students are musicians, some are guitarists, some are percussionists. This time I told them the "song" in english : "who did this, who did this, I did, I did, I did". But a strange thing occurred in this class: the non-musician students got the rhythm right away, but the musicians struggled more! I was very surprised at the beginning. I think they put a lot of pressure on themselves knowing they are musicians, so they started to think, instead of feeling the rhythm. I saw the power our mind has on our action once again. Also I believe if we have a lot of theoretical knowledge in a subject, we tend to learn new practical things slower. It's as if thinking too much blocks us.
I wish you all beautiful flamenco days!
Till next blog next week! Besos