You've read my thoughts on avoiding castanets burn-out, and you've read about what made castanets finally doable for me. Today I'll share with you five important technique tips. But first, a castanets confession.

It has to do with my moving thumb.

My right thumb, that is. My right thumb that moves when I am doing the roll with my four fingers, well, and when doing postiseo, but it's supposed to move then, so that's a good thing. 

It's a bad habit that I formed in my alone practicing.

I don't know if I could have avoided it had I spent more time studying under someone else's guidance in the beginning. I don't know if the teacher would have noticed it happening and helped me to prevent it from continuing and developing into a habit. These are things I wonder about.

Most people tell me it's almost impossible to "fix" at this point.

Most people except for Emilio.

When I asked him about it a couple of years ago he told me that he used to do the same thing.

Wait, Emilio used to have the same bad habit?! You have no idea how good that made me feel.

So one day he decided to fix it.

He said it took a lot of conscious thought and patience, but it was very possible, and he did it.

Emilio's triumph gave me hope.

Until I actually tried to do the same thing.

I tried watching my thumb as I played and thinking it to stop moving.

This became very frustrating. And seemed impossible.

So I resorted to actually physically holding my thumb in place and seeing if I could still do the roll with my fingers without the thumb moving. Because maybe it just wasn't possible. Maybe I just had one of those thumbs that moves when the other fingers move kind of thumbs.

But no, this wasn't true.

Because my fingers could still roll when I held my thumb in place.

So I tried rolling my fingers veeeery slowly. Remembering that I just needed to do this poco a poco.

And it worked.

My four fingers rolled, riii, my thumb did not.

But as soon as I would go any faster, my thumb insisted on joining in.

This was going to take a lot of concentration.

A lot of focus.

A lot of patience.

And a lot of time.

Like any habit that that one wants to change.

As of yet, I have not had the patience or discipline to change this habit.

Emilio, I admire you. Well, I already did, but still.

And that is my castanets confession for today.

Perhaps you're wondering why this is important.

Why does it matter if my thumb moves if it doesn't seem to affect the sound?

I don't know. Because apparently it's not supposed to! And I just don't want it to. And I feel I should be able to control my untamed thumb.

That's why.

And now for those technical tips

Because even though it may be annoying, go for the good technique.

Please don’t compromise on this.

1. On your "ri" hand (the hand you use to make the roll), scratch your fingers.

Arañar: Scratch the fingers inward onto the castanet and with strength and intention.

2. Consciously think of all four fingers hitting each time.

I promise, when you consciously think 1, 2, 3, 4 in your head it facilitates all four fingers actually hitting the castanet.

3. Try to hit the middle of the castanet.

Even if you don't make it, always think about hitting the middle. Let those fingers know where they're supposed to go.

4. Strike the castanet with effort.

We don’t just lightly tap it, no. We need to use fuerza. Again, strength and intention.

5. Hold your arms in position.

While practicing your exercises get in the habit of holding your arms in position. Stay in one position or change positions. But colocado por favor.

All of these tips I learned from Ricardo. They are all things he reminds us of in class. They are importante for sure.


What do you think?

Any tips you'd like to add? What about bad habits? Do you have any that you're holding onto? Have you had success at breaking any? How? Let me know in the comments.

You might also enjoy the following posts:


4 Simple Tips to Becoming Better at Flamenco

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