The study of Cuban music – Theory and practice

Sep 8, 2020


What is more important in the study of Cuban music: theory or practice?

Although both are important, many of the greatest instrumentalists on the island were self-taught. Without demeaning the musical educational system, geniuses of the stature of Mongo Santamaría learned Afro-Cuban percussion at the bembés of the solares.

This is not a backward step from the past, since Noel Nicola or Jorgito Kamankola, for example, did not receive instruction at a conservatory or art school. They, like many Cubans, already had rhythm in their blood.

Other greats such as Jose Luis Cortés, Arturo Sandoval or Chucho Valdés were school musicians and received a careful education in the theoretical aspects. Although it is true that talent is irreplaceable for being a good instrumentalist, theoretical training strengthens and enhances musical ability.

A compromise solution in the study of Cuban music

The great dilemma for the music student lies in the length of the courses. No one denies that a course of six months or more, which is the standard for academies and conservatories in Cuba, provides a solid foundation for understanding and performing the rhythms of the Island. These courses include, besides the practice of the instrument, elements of solfeo, harmony, musical appreciation, history of music and other theoretical elements.

But, many times, those who wish and come after the study of Cuban music cannot have so much time away from their family, their work and their responsibilities. Besides, there are levels and levels: an amateur who has learned to play in a self-taught way may not wish to pass a deep academic instruction, but simply receive the practical elements necessary to play Cuban music.

In the same way, a professional musician already knows the theoretical aspects because he has received them elsewhere: what he lacks is the practical ability and knowledge to sound like he was born in the Greater Antilles.

Havana Music: balancing the load

The work of Havana Music is oriented towards this type of student. As a new type of school in music instruction, it adapts itself in a personalized way to the requirements of its students, and helps them to achieve their goals.

It is eminently oriented towards the practice of the instruments and the rapid learning of the Cuban way of playing. In addition to a small part of the essential theoretical elements for playing, it nevertheless has a group of recognized teachers in its faculty who, if requested by the student, can also delve into the theoretical issues surrounding the study of Cuban music.

However, what as a student cannot be played in class can be reviewed later. Through the online courses and their blog on the history and biographies of Cuban music, available on the site’s portal, it is possible to soak up all the characteristics that make Cuban musicians one of the most renowned on the international scene.

Located at calle 28 #172, in Vedado, Havana Music effectively combines your time with your interests, both from a theoretical and practical point of view.


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