SPC student rekindles his passion for flamenco guitar in Spain

An encounter with local student minstrels and a tour of a guitar factory inspire a new commitment to music during study abroad in Spain

– Keith Martin, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

España is famous for a variety of things, the most well known include: flamenco, jamón ibérico, the flamenco guitar, and Andalucian horses. Having had the opportunity to return to Spain a second time with St. Petersburg College, I must assert that there is so much more to this country than the aforementioned.

An amazing family welcomed me for the second time. Last year when I was required to repeat ´Esta casa es mi casa,´ (this house is my house), now they insisted I say ´Soy de casa´ (essentially, I am home). It would be difficult to describe my amazing experience in Spain so instead I will share a short story of happenstance that serves as an example of the amazing experiences one can encounter while studying abroad.

At the Marce guitar factory. Photo courtesy of Keith Martin.

Gloria, a housemate, and I were wandering back towards our Spanish home; stopped to check an ATM, bought a few postcards, some stamps, then randomly encountered a few others from our group.

Slightly bigger now, the group continued towards the Plaza Mayor and home, along the way finding a few others and Roxana Levin, our SPC instructor.

While chatting, a few students of the University of Salamanca, the third oldest institution of higher education in the world, emerged from a store wearing regalia resembling minstrels from many years ago. We asked for a photo; however, the most interesting part remains, Roxana asked if they would play a few songs for us.

Before long, we found ourselves at a cafe in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca listening to an impromptu live acoustic concert. It was an unplanned event that came together organically and might have never occurred with a single change in the stops we made prior to encountering everyone or the time spent at each.

Ana and her father at the Marce guitar factory. Photo courtesy of Keith Martin.

What is more, the next day our cultural activity included a tour to a guitar factory, Marce. They have been crafting guitars completely by hand in Spain for 49 years and provide guitars for some of the most famous classical and flamenco guitar players in the world.

Ana and her father, the founder, gave us an amazing tour with some students having the opportunity to participate in several steps of classical guitar construction.

Finally, as the tour finished, a Flamenco guitar called to me, reminding me of my own interest in the instrument that had remained latent for nearly 20 years. I now find myself the proud owner of a hand crafted Spanish Flamenco guitar, for a fraction of what it would cost anywhere else in the world and will likely be home in Clearwater before I will. Incidentally, the minstrels were playing Marce instruments.

– Keith Martin, SPC Student, Spain Program, June 2019 

Thank you for sharing Keith!

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