- Show Gabrielle that you love her every day.
- Practice the guitar more frequently and regularly.
- Blog more frequently – with photos
Here is a photo of the unveiling of the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, at the Santuary in Santa Fe this summer. We were lucky to be there at the time.
We just got our photos from our trip to Mexico posted to Flickr.
This January, to celebrate my birthday, Gabi and I spent two weeks in Mexico. We visited four colonial cities around the central highlands: Puebla, Cuernavaca, Morelia and San Miguel de Allende.
Unfortunately, the day before we left, our Olympus digital camera died! To make things worse, half way into our trip, our Canon 35 MM camera died too! Most of shots ended up being taken on disposable cameras. All of the photos were digitized from film at very low resolution, so forgive the photo quality.
A great flamenco band at the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency.
A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend in Scottsdale Arizona. Not that California winters are all that bad, but we had heard good things about Scottsdale in the winter. So off we went to check it out.
We went with reservations for dinner at a couple of highly regarded restaurants in the area. The Vu Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency is one and for good reason. We had a fantastic meal there.
What we didn’t know about the Hyatt is that the hotel lobby bar comes alive with Flamenco music on the weekends. A band called Mosaico Flamenco plays there and they are the real deal. The singer and guitarist knows the old school flamenco as well as nuevo flamenco. There is a second guitarist that has a different, less traditional style. There is nothing like the sound of two guitars. They played a soulful Solea followed by Bamblaya, so they cover a lot of ground. About half way through their set, they were joined by a local dancer named Julia Chacon. Julia and her male partner were very good, but the music stole the show.
Flamenco guitars, the moon over the desert. It almost felt like Andalucia. OK, well it really felt nothing like Andalucia but if you closed your eyes …
I started up lessons again with Mariano on January 5th. I was surprised that he was able to hold my old time open. That is too cool.
I’ve already discovered something pretty interesting. As you would expect I’m really rusty and have forgotten many things that I knew by memory. In particular, songs and riffs that I picked up last year are all pretty fuzzy. But the surprising thing is that I am actually improved on some songs that I have been playing for years.
For example, La Farruca. Mariano tracks proficiency on a 1-10 scale where “only God gets a perfect 10” and 7.5 – 8 is a minimum for a professional musician. For the longest time my grade for Farruca has been hovering at 6. But during my first lesson back I played it and Mariano gave me a very strong 7. I have been practicing but didn’t expect this kind of an improvement.
I think maybe it has something to do with changing my approach to the piece. The Farruca was the first complete flamanco piece I learned. Over time, it has become somewhat mechanical to me so I never really developed the feeling and nuances that the song deserves. Taking a break like this definately forced me to break any mechanical habits I had developed. I didn’t really forget the song, I just forgot enough about how I played it to make me figure that out again.
I need to start my lessons again.
I stopped my lessons with Mariano when we left on our big cross country bicycle adventure. Since the weight we carried was a big issue, I wasn’t able to take a guitar. Even a small travel guitar was out of the question. So, I wasn’t able to play at all for four months. I thought I would forget everything I knew.
We I only forgot about half of what I knew as it turned out. Since we have been back, I have been playing again but I just can’t seem to get back into a regular pattern of practicing. And I still have not re-started my lessons with Mariano.
I wanted to get back to where I was before the trip before starting lessons again. However, I have found that taking lessons forces me to play more. I don’t know if it is the challenge of the lessons, the joy of learning new things or the feeling of obligation to practice since you are paying for lessons. Probably for me it is some combination of the three.
In any case, it is time to start again. Soon.
I found a photo of my guitar on the Conde Hermanos site.
Well, mine is a 1986 version, but some things don’t change much. And I mean that in a very good way. The Hermanos Conde are nephews of the great Spanish guitar maker Esteso. Flamencoheads normally just call them “Los sobrinos” or “the nephews”. They still make a guitar using his original designs that is easily identified by the signature Esteso head on the guitar.
You can find the English version of their site here.
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