Education Matters: Students learn to play Flamenco guitar

FRESNO COUNTY, California - The look on a teacher’s face when he sees his students connecting with him – playing in sync

Guitar instructor Brian Garcia believes in his students, and he believes in the one of a kind program he has created in the Central Unified School District.

“Most of my students can’t take private lessons because they don’t have the funds or resources for it, so the goal was to create in a public education system a sequenced, curriculum, performance opportunities that will put them in a position if it is their choice or their desire to go to a music school to possible receive a scholarship,” Garcia said.

He established the classical guitar program five years ago starting with junior high and expanding it Central High School – making it a six-year program.

“When I first found out that I had the opportunity to take guitar in middle school, I almost felt enlightened in away because I didn’t have to pay really,” student Leonardo Tapia said.

Tapia, 17, is now a senior and is in awe of the opportunities this program has provided him.

“It’s so amazing to me because I never would have thought that through just playing guitar in school that I would be able to play a piece by Jason McGuire,” Tapia said.

Yet here he was in a class learning from famed flamenco guitarist Jason McGuire, known as El Rubio. McGuire composed a piece especially for this lesson.

The teacher of this class studied under McGuire and was able to get the Oakland-based guitarist to teach a special class for his students.

“There is nothing like this program anywhere in the United States,” McGuire said. They are being immersed in the art of flamenco which is something that cost a plane ticket to Europe and a lot of hotel fees and things like that. It’s not an inexpensive endeavor and they are getting it right here in Fresno.”

Their teacher wanted his students to learn the art of flamenco because of his own experience studying guitar with Juan Serrano at Fresno State.

He had his students rehearse with flamenco dancer Clara Rodriguez. There was a lot they could learn.

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