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A Student guitar program in Central America has asked me for help.

For the past 10 years I have been working with Suzuki Communities in El Salvador and Guatemala to help build programs in Central America. The next event I will attend begins 16 days from now in Guatamala City in December. One of the teachers there who works with families in a more remote area has asked for two guitars for his program.

A local Houston-area merchant who is supportive of growing guitar programs has agreed to supply the items at the lowest rate he gives to schools.

Here are the items and projected cost for the requested guitar supplies:
Cordoba 1/4 Sized (w/ gig bag)      $135.
Cordoba 3/4 sized (w/ gig bag)      $ 135.
Crossrock 106 Gig-Bag               $   25.00
——————-   TOTAL:  $295
New Strings are also needed.
They cost  $107 per box of 12 sets  (lots of teachers could use these)

If you are able and interested in donating to the GUITARS FOR GUATEMALA Project, you can do so by visiting this link:

The Southeast Texas Suzuki Association is supporting this initiative and has already helped send violins and other supplies to Central America.
Visit their page where you can donate via PayPal or use your Credit Card.

Every amount is appreciated! We are working against the clock since the next festival begins in a little over two weeks!!


Thank you!


Today I found a dime. It was on the ground during my morning walk.

Earlier this year I attended a Music Conference where a colleague told me a story: A former instructor who had emigrated to the U.S. from Europe many years ago believed that when you saw money on the sidewalk, even if it was a small coin like a penny, you should pick it up. It’s true value lies in an opportunity – you should look at the year printed on the coin and be grateful for something good that happened in that year.

The dime I found this morning was minted in 2015. Well, I do have a standout memory from 2015.

My summer music camp travels had begun and I was in Ottawa, Kansas – which was a new town for me. Though I was watching my step, somehow I ended up on the ground during a morning jog and later on, in the emergency room. I broke my ankle in two places.

Once home in Houston, the doctor recommended surgery, followed by time off and physical therapy. Mixed in was depression due to the sudden inactivity, learning to get around on crutches and braces and missing planned events. All told, it added up to months of time I would have much rather spent doing other things.

So, today when I picked up that dime, it was disappointing to see the year 2015. The first thing I thought of as a memory was my broken leg.

I know we’re supposed to be thankful even for challenges because they often work out for good. But, on the other hand, it would sure be nice to have a happy memory from 2015!!

So I worked to think and to remember one: it was also the year I traveled to Ohio to work with students in a small but vibrant studio with a family who hosted me and with whom I’ve stayed in touch.

I decided that’s a pretty nice memory from 2015 that I can feel grateful for!!

And another memory came – I started a new job as a college professor, which has been great.

And then I remembered something else really special – an Arts organization in Guatemala City endowed a scholarship in my name to allow an underprivileged child to receive music lessons. That has been a standout – and they regularly communicate about her progress and joy in playing. I was even able to meet her in 2015.

And I met all of the nice people – including Emergency Room Staff – in Ottawa, Kansas for the first time.

So – to overcome the bitter memory, it required a bit of digging for one nice one. After that, it seemed as if the walls gave way and many other good thoughts followed.

Here is the dime that inspired it. The coin that taught me – much in the same way the physical therapist did – that the first step is often the hardest one to take.

“Success breeds success.”
Shinichi Suzuki

One thin dime which was found on the sidewalk taught an important lesson..

One thin dime which was found on the sidewalk taught an important lesson.

Taylor Swift has 18million subscribers and 7+billion views on YouTube. Wow!!
Korean Guitar phenom Sungha Jung has 3million subscribers and 1.5 million views.
B.B. King, immortal blues guitarist, is a little more down-to-earth with only  13,000 subscribers and 8 million views.
Classical Guitarist David Russell has 7,000 subscribers and nearly 3 million views.

Of course, they all deserve so much respect for their fame and I admire them all for different reasons. But all the same, I feel TOTALLY AWESOME because Guitar Arts Studio Student Video Channel has . . . (drumroll??? )

230 subscribers
over 1,000,000 views!!
And truly, other than post them and share around a little – there hasn’t been anything really done to promote the channel.

We’re just that doggone good!!!

See for yourself at:

Here’s our most popular video:


These two are pretty close in views:

Lord of the Rings theme for Guitar Ensemble

Malaguena for Guitar Trio

Student Performers aged 10-16

and My Favorite – “Take the A Train”

Honors Ensemble performing in the Guitar Foundation of America Youth Showcase in Ithaca, NY (June 2009)

Well…there may be lots of other channels with over a million views, but I still feel really proud and happy about this.


…and Thank You for watching!!

Working lots lately on writing and recording. And CD-ing – at least, that’s the plan for where this is all going to end up. It just seemed like sharing a “Lick of the Week” might be a nice project to add to the blend.

For the Inaugural Week I present the “Wheaties Warm-Up.” My first teacher, DC area Jazz Great Rick Whitehead gave it to me at my first lesson. I thought it was so cool!

He made the comment, “you’re going to have to eat your wheaties to play this one!”

This exercise consists of a chromatic scale ascending and then descending on the 1st string. It alternates w/ the Eb on string 2 and the open E, 1st string.

Here is the first sequence. After that, you can watch, listen and figure it out.

Eb – E – F – E – Eb – E – F# – E – Eb – E – G – E etc…..

I first learned this with a pick as a study to improve alternating. It’s also good for fingerstyle right-hand patterns.  The video shows PIMI. Try PAMI and other patterns for more fun!  And practice.

You can and should go beyond the 12th fret. This video does not because to do so made it longer than the 15-second Instagram Limit.

Today from my vacation spot in Destin, Florida I’m listening to the music of  Joe Pass. Joe used to come to Berklee often during my time there. My teacher, Al Defino, had lived a while in LA where he studied with and hung out with Joe. So, when Joe was in Boston for a gig, we often saw him in the halls at school on the 5th Floor where the Guitar Department was. During the days, he didn’t have scheduled time and he said he wanted to see what was up in our guitar dept because “This is where all the good, young players come from.”

And today I thought if there were smart phones back then, I would have a selfie with Joe from one of those times he was hanging with us or doing a clinic in the Performance Center.

This is one thing vacations are good for…time to muse around with ideas like this one. So, included with this post is a composite of Joe and me, how we might have looked if there had been a photo back then….Sort of.

And another picture just of Joe that looks like it might have been taken in the BPC during one of his clinics.

There are not many guitarists who don’t cite Joe as an influence on their playing and the development of their career choice.

Thanks, Joe, for all of the inspiration.


Last year in February,  I was on my way to a Suzuki Guitar Workshop in Florida when I heard the following news: ‘guitarist Paco de Lucia passed away suddenly from an apparent heart attack while vacationing with his family at the beach in Mexico. He was 66.’  I felt a sense of loss for us as a guitar community. He was such a passionate and fiery player.  Through his refinements and fusion of flamenco and jazz harmonies as well as his collaborations with artists including Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, he helped make the nylon-string guitar more recognizable to a wider audience.

I thought about all of the young guitarists I would be working with over the weekend and wished for a way to share something with them that would remind them of Paco and his contributions to our instrument.

Flaming Flamenco’ is an original song created as an introduction to improvisation and to rasgueado technique in a fun format for guitar students. On that weekend in Florida, I saw it as a bridge to offer to the students – a bridge to introduce them to a style solidified and popularized by a guitarist they would never have the chance to meet.

We guitarists have *hundreds* of etudes and pieces in the key of Aminor since it utilizes the open bass strings as primary chord roots. In Flaming Flamenco, students learn the Amin scale as well as two easy and very singable melodies. The accompaniment consists of two repeated chords – Ami and E.  Employing a basic rhythm with rasgueados supplies an exercise that builds coordination as well as strength. In a group format, students can pair off and exchange playing the rasgueado accompaniment and the scale with the melodic patterns.

It’s pretty much instant gratification!

For the performance in Florida, there were parts for every student, the parents and even the audience, too. The beginners were given a rhythmic pattern of hand-claps (or palmas).

There was ‘percussion’ using the hands to play on the body of the guitar itself.

We closed our portion of the concert with the Paco Tribute. The crowd response was warm and enthusiastic. That brought the weekend to a satisfying close for me.

Since that time, ‘Flaming Flamenco’ has been shared and performed in many more cities around the US and beyond. [‘FLAMING FLAMENCO’ C2008, AndreaCannonMusic, all rights reserved]

Here are some notes I’ve received from colleagues:

“I’m having the studio do a recital in February, and one of the group pieces is your “Flaming Flamenco.” Those kids love it! That’s all they want to play! I have to ask them to stop when we are in our private lessons. It’s really funny.”

“The tribute to Paco was a hit with my students! It’s great because it’s

all-inclusive.  There are parts easy enough for 1st position level students to play while beginners love doing the palmas throughout the song.  The excitement of playing up the neck in IV & V position is an added bonus. The improv section is also very enjoyable for students to break away and do some creating of their own! For months after we used it in our Winter Recital. I still hear kids playing it while noodling around before and after group lessons!”
Brannon Lyons; Lyons Guitar And String Lesson Studio (Mt. Lebanon, PA)

“Flaming Flamenco is a great piece. I used it both in Pennsylvania and in Florida with my students. I like the fact that there is something for everyone to play, from absolute beginners playing the palmas to an easy melody first position students to learn, and an opportunity for improvisation, which can be simple or advanced, depending on the student’s level. Plus it is a crowd pleaser that the parents like.”
Joette Giorgis; Joette’s Strings Music Studio (Port Saint Lucie, Florida)

Here are some links to information about Paco:
Paco de Lucia  –  BBC Video News (very short report)

Paco Playing Guitar (short sample)
With my students, we focused on a short segment of this video that showed the right hand close-up. We talked about the placement of the his fingers and helped clarify ways to improve our own sound

Here is Paco de Lucia’s website:



Flaming Flamenco (in memory of Paco de Lucia) [‘FLAMING FLAMENCO’ C2008, AndreaCannonMusic, all rights reserved]

I hope you will enjoy performing this spirited tune in tribute to a legend of the guitar and most of all, grow with your students in the love of playing music on the guitar and sharing with others!


What an honor to receive the exciting news that a scholarship has been created in my name to assist a deserving child’s study of guitar in Guatemala.

On behalf of my colleagues in Central America I am always happy to work very hard because I know their deep desire to support the arts and education in their countries. This is just another example of how wonderful their hearts are to reach out and share what they have.

I am so proud of all of them! I look forward to meeting the recipient and watching her development with music.

The photo below is from a past Festival, just to help put a face to the story. This boy is NOT The child receiving the scholarship – that news has not yet been released – he is a young man from Guatemala City where the school is.

Here is a link to the story and below that, the text in Spanish with English translation.

“El día de hoy en ALARTE & Estudio de Guitarra Paco Godoy se decidió crear la “BECA ANDREA CANNON” en gratitud a la Maestra Andrea Cannon por sus esfuerzos, entrega, corazón y el trabajo que realiza en pos de la enseñanza, aprendizaje y compartimiento de la Guitarra Clásica y la aplicación del Método Suzuki en Guatemala y Centro América. Muchas gracias maestra Andrea Cannon, así como a la Asociación Suzuki de las Américas, Asociación Suzuki de El Salvador y Asociación Costarricense del Método Suzuki. Pronto compartiremos acerca de la niña que recibirá esta beca, la cual procuraremos mantener y renovar de por vida. Gracias de nuevo. Atrévete… Libérate… Elévate… ven Alarte.”


“Today at Alarte & The Guitar Studio of Paco Godoy it was decided to create the “ANDREA CANNON SCHOLARSHIP” in gratitude to Master-Teacher Andrea Cannon for her efforts, dedication, heart and the work done towards teaching, learning and sharing Classical Guitar and implementation of the Suzuki Method in Guatemala and Central America. Many thanks Andrea Cannon and the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Suzuki Association of El Salvador and Costa Rican Suzuki Association. Soon we will share about the girl who will receive this scholarship, which will seek to maintain and renew her throughout her lifetime. Thanks again. Dare Yourself … Free yourself … Rise Above… and come with Alarte.”

Two teachers from Guatemala City with their young student

Two teachers from Guatemala City with their young student

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