Guitarist of the Month: Lalo de Pilar

Lalo de PIlar is a world-class Flamenco guitarist who began his musical career with his first performance at age six in his hometown of Lugo, Spain. For over four decades Lalo has performed as an accompanist and as a solo artist. He toured throughout the world until the early 2000’s.

Since then, Lalo has been residing in Houston, Texas composing for film and television. He has not only been asked to present awards for best music in film, but he has also performed at The Gulf Coast Film & Video Festival on several occasions.

For approximately 7 years he was with the University of St. Thomas where he taught guitar and music as well as lectured about the ins and outs of flamenco.

Lalo treasures his Spanish heritage and his love for Flamenco. Therefore, he continues to push the boundaries of this beautiful art by creating a unique repertoire that reflects his culture, energy, creativity, and passion.

Being self-taught and reaching such heights in guitar mastery – what was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was when I was a child and had to put countless of hours of practices on a daily basis. It was a good and productive challenge. I was always very studious, so I studied diligently. However, at times it was a very lonely time for me although inspiring. I am very glad that I did it.

How would you describe what a flamenco guitar is to someone picking up a guitar for the very first time?

As an instrument that may take him or her away to places that they may never have dreamed of visiting. I would also describe a flamenco guitar as the best form of discipline one could ever acquired on an instrument.

What is a thing about flamenco guitar you wish you knew when you were first starting?

I wish I would have known that it would have been a never ending lifestyle. Peradventure I would have studied more diligently. It has been a wonderful time, a wonderful experience and I learned how to be very disciplined doing something I deeply love. I am very glad that I spent all those years perfecting my craft.

Having years of experience as a musician, how do you personally set goals for the continuous development of your guitar skills?

Although setting goals for oneself is a very good thing, I no longer set goals for myself. I am past that stage of my musical career and practice. However, as a seasoned professional musician I did set goals for myself, such as how to handle rehearsals and the repertoire of a future concert. There were even goals set for the scheduling of a tour.

What I do is practice scales daily for continued strength and stamina. That I shall have to do for the rest of my life. I work diligently on compositions in order to perfect them. I no longer have a set goal for what I am going to do or practice. This is perhaps because everything that I do is internally very inspirational.

After a few years of experience, things fall naturally into place because of what I have learned due to my tremendous discipline.

What are some realistic goals a beginner flamenco guitarist should set for themselves when first starting?

I find that technique is an excellent place to begin. Still, it all depends on the individual. I always start by teaching beginners scales. A simple C scale is always a good place to begin.

I then move on to arpeggios and thumb, alzapua, exercises. Certain arpeggio exercises are excellent for building a strong and flawless tremolo.

While teaching these techniques, I also have the student work on compás, rhythm. It is vital for them to do so. The compás is the foundation of everything in flamenco.

How does your process of writing music for film and television go?

I often begin by asking the producer and/or the director about their project. As they speak and describe their project, I either begin composing in my head and/or I begin quietly playing my guitar. Something usually comes up as I am playing even if it is a small idea.

You also teach at the University of St. Thomas. How did you go about creating your curriculum?

I did teach at UST for seven years. I was on faculty there. Although I have been asked to return to teach at UST, my time there ended when Paul Krystofiak sadly passed away. I had many wonderful times while there and Paul made it comfortable for me while I was there.

My curriculum has been established since I was a boy. What I have first learned has always stayed with me and has continuously been perfected. Therefore, it is very easy for me to refer to my internal curriculum whenever I fancy to do so.

What is your dream musical project?

My dream musical project is to compose for an orchestra, perform with that orchestra and conduct it. That would be the epitome of my musical career. Wish me luck!

Currently Lalo is creating a course of all what he has learned and mastered throughout his musical career. He is putting things together that shall eventually come together naturally in the form of a book, CD or both. Stay tuned also for Lalo’s return to the recording studio where he will record and produce a variety of music that he has composed over the years.

Contact Lalo via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lalodepilar/ and subscribe to his YouTube channel here.

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