Andrei Kuzin, a Year 13 student at Brooke Weston Academy had the opportunity of a lifetime when he met renowned Spanish flamenco guitarist, Juan Martin, who passed on tips on playing the distinctive music.
Andrei met Mr Martin in London and was introduced via his guitar teacher Mr Paul Balmer, who gives lessons at the academy. Andrei said: ‘Mr Balmer has got a lot of connections and Juan Martin has played flamenco guitar for over 50 years and has a wealth of experience. He was playing and explaining why he does certain bits in a certain way and I was questioning him on his techniques. Juan Martin talked about how you accent certain bits, what you play between the main beats of the bar and how the way you strike the guitar with your fingers is important.
‘When you get good at guitar you can play anything so it becomes about interpretation rather than skill so flamenco is my favourite style of guitar music because it has a certain aggression that makes you want to get up and move.’
Andrei is studying maths, further maths, chemistry and physics and wants to do an engineering degree. However his music provides a welcome counterpoint to his studies and he is currently practising two hours a day in preparation for his grade 8 music exams soon. One of his exam pieces is based on ‘Soleares’ – the oldest form of flamenco.
He said: ‘Meeting Juan Martin was a great opportunity as he is a leader in his style of guitar. Not everyone has a chance to meet someone like him so it was a very rare experience and I am really happy I did it!’
Mr Balmer said: ‘The biggest difference in ‘flamenco’ as opposed to ‘classic’ guitar is that flamenco guitar is an integral part of a bigger performance, usually being led by a singer or a dancer. ‘Classic ‘ guitar is mostly a solo performance.
When I was younger my teacher did the same for me and sent me to Andres Segovia and John Williams – which was a real revelation of what ‘world class’ really means! The idea behind Andrei’s time with Juan Martin was largely ‘inspiration’ and ‘experience’. He will never forget that experience and will one day tell his grandchildren about it!’