Shine Music School has a host of impressive and talented teachers. Many of whom are working on new music. Our teachers are often recording albums or performing, and continue to practice and learn everyday. They bring these talents and expertise into the classroom and each of their students can benefit from their knowledge.
Check out some of their new work!
Gian Carlo Scevola is one of our brilliant guitar teachers. He has been teaching with Shine since its humble beginnings in Barcelona, almost 10 years ago! Visit his profile to learn more about him, or sign up for lessons with Gian Carlo. Gian Carlo recently made it to the final of the International Music Competition of Cambra d ‘ Andorra, Amics Cambra Romànica with the Trío Desconcierto. Here is some of his new music with his Scevola Ensemble:
A new album by the accomplished César Munera titled Wood Mirror is out now. Cesar teaches guitar, specialising in fingerstyle guitar, classical guitar and flamenco guitar at Shine. Follow him on Instagram and enjoy frequent videos of his playing or contact us for a lesson. You can purchase his album on amazon or listen on Spotify.
Sebastian Pan, another of our superb guitar teaches plays in collaboration with Antonio Monasterio Ensemble in the video below. Sebastian frequently shares great videos performing on his really cool travel sized electric guitar on his Instagram. He teaches electric guitar at Shine. Contact us if you would like to do some lessons with Sebastian.
The guitar is a very versatile instrument, with which you can play songs from different musical genres. Flamenco, which is very popular in Spain and throughout the world, is one of them and flamenco guitar is one of the most popular varieties of Spanish guitar.
The origin of the word “flamenco” is inexact. It is believed to come from the cultural tradition that gypsies introduced to Spain during Arab domination since before the 15th century. However, it was during the 18th century when flamenco was recognized as a musical genre and elevated its artistic expression from the cultural fusion of Muslims, Gypsies, Spaniards, Africans and Caribbean that at that time coexisted in Andalusia.
The first historically documented flamenco guitarist dates from the year 1850 known as Francisco Rodríguez “El Murciano”. However, the oldest record of flamenco music dates from 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso.
In general, when we talk about flamenco we refer to the result of a harmonic mix of different cultures and musical styles that has an artistic expression of deep feeling through cante (singing), dancing and toque (the way the guitarist plays the flamenco guitar). Over time, other instruments such as the flute, cajon, and violin have enriched this music, which has allowed it to renew melodies and shape the flamenco that we know today.
The flamenco guitar is similar to a classical guitar but with thinner parts and less internal reinforcements. It usually has nylon strings and is used in toque.
This instrument is often equipped with a kick plate (pickguard), commonly made of plastic, whose function is to protect the guitar body from rhythmic beats.
Flamenco guitars are normally made of cypress wood, a material that brightens the sound and adapts very well to the characteristics of this musical style. In addition, it has a narrower box so that the sound is smaller and does not overshadow the singer’s voice.
Perhaps the main difference between a classical guitar and a flamenco guitar is that in the last one, the harmonic bars are located in a different way, which generates a more percussive and brilliant sound.
Regarding posture, the flamenco guitarist often crosses his legs and supports the guitar he is highest on, while the neck keeps it almost horizontal with respect to the ground.
Since 2010, flamenco has been considered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
Some of our teachers offer recommendations for those who are interested in studying flamenco guitar:
César Munuera, graduated in flamenco guitar from the Conservatori del Liceu, assures:
“Paco de Lucía is the benchmark for any flamenco, but then there are Vicente Amigo, Gerardo Núñez, Tomatito, etc., who are from a later generation but equally great.
In my opinion, in flamenco there are no specific works that are essential … the most important thing, beyond listening to guitarists, is listening to cante and the more traditional flamenco to understand the rhythm and singularities of each palo. You have to listen to a lot and, above all, study a lot of technique in the most meticulous way possible … Since this genre develops specific guitar techniques that do not exist in any other style. “
The director of the Shine School of Music and expert in classical guitar, Milos Sajin, mentions some important works:
Our music school is located in Barcelona, a place historically recognized for being one of the first spaces where flamenco flourished in Spain between the 19th and 20th centuries.
Have fun studying music with us! The classes we offer are personalized and for all ages. Although you are a beginner or already have a more advanced level, do not worry, our music courses will always be adapted to your needs and interests.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US and all over the world have triggered a positive interest in educating ourselves on understanding racism and acknowledging its prevalence in our societies. Knowledge of our history can empower us all to make the right changes to move forward and build a world that is equal, and that celebrates different cultures.
The history of music is no different, and it is impossible to not recognise the genius of a multitude of black musicians, or ignore their contributions and advancements of the art. Despite this, in the past 200 years, many black composers have almost been forgotten or overlooked, and struggled against the odds to be heard. Even now, their symphonies and operas, concertos and quartets are often ignored, and remain underperformed.
Shine Music School made its start in post apartheid South Africa, and we are well aware of the institutionalised inequalities in our everyday lives. Even so, we still have a long way to go in educating ourselves. Let’s stop being silent, stop standing by and advocate for change! Let’s uplift and support black musicians and composers. In today’s article, we look at 6 fascinating musical composers and highlight some of their works.
Listen to their music, play and perform their pieces, and applaud their contribution!
Our first composer is non other than Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). If you are a music history buff you will have heard of him. This guy led an extraordinary life. Full of swashbuckling adventure, politics, kings, queens, drama and last but not least music! It’s the stuff of movies! Born in the French Caribbean, the son of a wealthy plantation owner and a 16 year old female slave; Joseph Bologne, or Saint-Georges (as he is better known) was brought to France at a young age by his father, where he continued to spend most of the rest of his life.
St-Georges grew up in French high society but his heritage restricted him in many ways. He was both unique because of his colour and status, but for the same reasons was never able to marry and although his musical expertise was recognised, he was not allowed to take on certain appointments, such as the director of the Académie royale de musique, the Paris Opéra.
He made a name for himself as a champion fencer, even fighting off four men in an attempted assassination for his political involvements. At one point he lived in the same house as Mozart, and indeed may have influenced his younger counterpart. He was a prolific composer (with a multitude of operas, violin concertos, symphonies and numerous chamber works under his belt) and talented violin player. Saint-Georges even played intimate concerts for Marie Antoinette, and a performance of of his second opera, La Chasse was performed at her request at the royal chateau at Marly. He became a colonel in the French Legion during the Revolution. After the Revolution shattered France, St-Georges was forced out of the army with little to show for his accomplishments, he returned to his music, and continued to compose and perfect his violin playing. He died at the age of 53 from what seems to have be gangrene. Read more about his music and fascinating escapade here.
Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869 – 1954) was the first African-American to write an opera (Epthalia, 1891) that was successfully produced. He was a composer, musician, conductor and music teacher and founded the Freeman School of Music and the Freeman School of Grand Opera. During his lifetime, he was known as “the black Wagner.”
Around 1908, Freeman moved his family to the Harlem neighbourhood of New York City where the Harlem Renaissance was just getting into swing. Freeman’s work was already well renowned and sometime in 1912, ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who was then living in New York, asked Freeman to assist in revising his three-act opera, “Treemonisha,” production of which had halted the previous year. Freeman opened a music school in New York.
Freeman composed a number of operas and other musical work, most famous, his opera Voodoo.
“The last couple of decades of his life he struggled to get any performances of his work. Almost all of his music was unpublished at the time of his death, and no recordings of his work have ever been released commercially. Twenty-one of his operas, as well as many of his other works, survive in Freeman’s own manuscripts, and are kept in a collection of his papers at Columbia University” (source)
Scott Joplin (1868 – 1917) was an American composer and pianist. Nicknamed the King of Ragtime, he was most renowned for his ragtime pieces, including his most famous composition “Maple Leaf Rag” which today would be considered the Billboard all time number one hit of ragtime. He was a prolific composer, and wrote two operas, although these were less popular, and he struggled to become recognised for his classical compositions. He taught piano, and although his popular hit helped to support him for the duration of his life, he frequently found himself in financial straits and the score to his first opera, A Guest of Honor, was confiscated in 1903 with his belongings for non-payment of bills, and is now considered lost. (source) None of his operas were performed in his lifetime, and ragtime music died with him. He was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in the 1970s, and Treemonisha was finally performed. His ragtime compositions have influenced jazz and big band swing music.
Florence B Price (1887-1953) was a classical composer, pianist, organist and music teacher. She became the first African American woman to have a work played by a major orchestra. In 1933 the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony in E minor for the first time. Although she is considered to be successful in her life time, her numerous compositions are rarely played today. If you consider the era when she was writing and performing music, her accomplishments are enormous.
Florence grew up in the American south. Her family was well to do and she was a whip-smart, valedictorian of her class. She escaped some prejudice by identifying as Mexican during her studies in Boston, but later returned to the south and married only to move again during what is known as the Great Migration to escape Jim Crow conditions in the deep south. The Price family eventually settled in Chicago. Despite the odds of being black and a woman, she studied composition, orchestration, and the organ with the best teachers in the city, and published four pieces for piano in 1928. Her marriage fell apart and Florence worked hard to support herself and her children. Price made considerable use of characteristic African-American melodies and rhythms in many of her works. (source) She won various musical awards and wrote numerous pieces for Orchestras, and for film and advertising under a pen name. Despite this she was almost forgotten until “in 2009, a substantial collection of her works and papers were found in an abandoned dilapidated house on the outskirts of St. Anne, Illinois.These consisted of dozens of her scores, including her two violin concertos and her fourth symphony. As Alex Ross stated in The New Yorker in February 2018, “not only did Price fail to enter the canon; a large quantity of her music came perilously close to obliteration. That run-down house in St. Anne is a potent symbol of how a country can forget its cultural history.” (source)
Her work has currently received some more airplay and recognition:
Francis “Frank” Johnson (1792 – 1844) was another prolific African-American composer during the Antebellum period. You can read more about that time period in our article on The Banjo. African American composers were scarce in America during this period, but Johnson was among the few who were successful. This guy could do it all! Performing on the (now rare) keyed Kent bugle and the violin, he wrote hundreds of compositions in a multitude of styles— Operatic airs, Ethiopian minstrel songs, patriotic marches and various dances. Johnson was the first African American composer to have his works published as sheet music. His dance music was published and played at balls across the country. Only his manuscripts and piano transcripts survive today. He even performed for Queen Victoria. He also was the first African American to give public concerts and the first to participate in racially integrated concerts in the United States.
Since no actual recordings of his work exist and critic of the day did not go into much details, historians surmise that Johnsons work included many details which are not recorded on the actual publications of his transcripts. According to wikipedia:
“Available accounts show that his composition and playing must have had qualities which cannot be reconstructed from the surviving manuscripts. Historical accounts suggest that his performances infused stylistic rhythmic changes, differing from the written versions, which were either inferred by performers or instructed verbally. This is presumed to be similar to the improvisations made by jazz musicians today, although the current practices and idioms are probably vastly different from the ones used by Johnson. He was able to create interesting music, harmonies, and effects that differed from the diatonic harmonies and triadic melodies that were popular at that time.”
His performances must have been something to see!
And finally George Walker, (1922 -2018), was the first black American classical composer to be awarded the Pulitzer prize for music (for Lilacs, a piece for voice and orchestra, in 1996) while still alive. Walker balanced a career as a concert pianist, teacher, and composer. He was a man of firsts, first black instrumentalist to appear with the Philadelphia Orchestra, first black instrumentalist to be signed by a major management, the National Concert Artists. He became first black recipient of a doctoral degree from Eastman School of Music and the list goes on! Walkers’ body of work included over 90 works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus. However, for all his accomplishments, he still remains a cult figure in the world of contemporary composition. (read more here)
As summer vacation is fast approaching, and international and national restrictions lift, holidays are looming, and even perhaps a little bit of travel if you can! Perhaps you have already planned your first trip! You can start dreaming again of sand between your toes on a beach in Ibiza, or the Canary Islands. Perhaps even a secret cove in Mallorca. Close your eyes and think of the mountain hike you can go on in the Pyranees. The birds singing in the trees, the sound of a softly trickling stream. Suddenly you realize something is missing. What could possibly make this moment even more magical? Yes! Music! What if you had an ukulele or guitalele right next to you?
Traveling with an instrument is difficult!
Most guitar players that travel are worried about their precious guitar getting damaged on the plane. Imagine turbulence as you descend over the Pyrenees bumps and scratches your favourite guitar! And you didn’t insure it! Even worse, you are forced to stow it in the luggage bay, or pay for an extra seat to accommodate your instrument. Then the baggage handlers loose your luggage, including your guitar! A nightmare for musicians! This is why finding other options than traveling with your guitar can be a smart idea.
Here are some benefits of choosing an ukelele or guitalele as your travel instrument of choice:
1# Size and weight: The ukulele and guitalele are small enough for taking inside the airplane and are easy to transport, making them the perfect instruments for travel. Extremely lightweight and easy to transport, they fit perfectly in the overhead luggage compartment in an airplane. Small and easy to carry, but offering a similar sound to the original guitar.
2# To socialize: Because of their small size and weight, both instruments become a great way to make friends and meet people. The great thing about them is you can take them everywhere! You can easily play the ukulele or guitalele on Barceloneta beach, perform on Barcelona streets or jam in the most popular pubs and bars around town. The joyful sound of both instruments easily attracts peoples attention and you will often find yourself surrounded by smiley faces. People love singing along to today’s favourites played on a cheerful little instrument.
3# Price: You can get any of these two instruments at a very reasonable price and not worry if they get damaged. While traveling it’s easy for your instrument to get damaged by the sun, bumps or too much use. So better not take your expensive guitar on the road! You can easily rent or buy an ukelele or guitalele and not worry so much if something happens to your little buddy.
So why not give it a try?
Our teacher Sebastian Pan regularly plays his electric guitalele, you can get a lesson with him if you like!
If you in Barcelona and want to try an ukelele or guitalele, please contact shinemusicrental.com for more details.
If you are a musician, and you have the space at home, it may be a fun project to design and create a home studio. Somewhere dedicated just to your music. A place that inspires you to practice and play. If you don’t have the space at home, perhaps some of these ideas can be applied to other parts of your home decoration! We all could use a little bit of music in our lives!
All Important Acoustics
Different textures covering the walls and ceiling of your home studio help to absorb and break up the sound waves, giving you a better auditory experience! Experiment with the acoustics! Go all out with these grass walls from Design Milk.
You could even get yourself your own custom Vocal booth, or try your hand at building one yourself!
Or you can try different kinds of padding to achieve better sound and protect both your family and neighbours when you “rock out!” It doesn’t have to be ugly, check out this stylishly upholstered door.
And have a look at this useful setup, explaining where to place your acoustic boards to improve the sound in your studio. You can find acoustic foam boards at your local hardware stores like Leroy Merlin or even have them delivered on Amazon.
These drum machines and keyboards have been cleverly placed on an IKEA Stolmen Shelf. A good and inexpensive solution to storing and using your equipment.
Experiment with this DIY hack of bending and altering the shape of vintage vinyl records. The possibilities are endless! From Shelves to lamps. Just using boiling water or by placing the vinyl in the oven, bend the vinyl as desired!
Storage shelves for musical odds and ends, or even a book or magazine rack!
Or keep it classical with these framed music note sheets. Print out your favourite musical piece or song and decorate your home.
Or if you feel up to it, create a piece of furniture out of old instruments or like this light fixture, out of old drum sticks. Perhaps keep an eye out at vintage and second hand stores for old musical items you could repurpose. And now you know what to do if you accidentally break a stick as you are thrashing away your most complicated metal track!