Interview With Classical and Flamenco Guitarist Leah Kruszewski

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Interview With Classical and Flamenco Guitarist Leah Kruszewski


Guitarist and Richmond, Virginia native Leah Kruszewski currently resides in Seville, Spain, where she accompanies flamenco dancing and singing and teaches classical and flamenco guitar lessons to local and international students.

Leah studied on scholarship the Fundación Cristina Heeren, one of Spain's most renowned and rigorous professional flamenco schools, and performs regularly in Seville and abroad.


Magesh, Musicngear: You are one of the top guitar teachers on the American teaching platform Lessonface. It seems the guitar never goes out of fashion, what do you think draws people to learning the guitar?

First off, the guitar is such a versatile instrument. It can draw people from nearly any style of music. Whatever style of music you’re into now - and might get into later - you can probably play it on the guitar.

My specialties are flamenco and classical guitar, but I also start beginning students on general acoustic guitar. Often they’re not sure what they want to play - they’re just called to the instrument for some reason. So once they develop some basic skills, we can explore and figure out what style suits them best.

It’s relatively inexpensive to get started with a decent instrument, $200-400, so there’s not a huge economic hurdle. It’s light and portable. Guitar can be a solitary pursuit (if you want to be a classical guitarist or accompany yourself singing), or a social one, if you want to play with friends or join a band. So it can appeal to just about any personality type and lifestyle.


Do you have many people who come to you for lessons to become professional musicians or just play their favorite songs as a hobby?

The most common type of student I teach is a serious hobbyist. I’m fortunate to teach several long-term students who are really dedicated to classical or flamenco guitar. They put in the time and effort and made huge strides over the years.

I also teach adults who just want to play to relax, and young kids who are just starting to play (just for fun). I teach a few older children/adolescents who are considering music as a career — not necessarily guitar-focused, but guitar is certainly a part of their music formation.


There really isn’t a final destination or goal in a music career, it’s more about pursuing projects that excite you in the moment and accumulating skills that you can use to make a living.


What do you think about apps like chord AI which can work out the chords to any song?

I’ve only tried one site like that, and it wasn’t Chord AI. From my experience, I think it is a time-saver and can provide a good guide/starting point if you know what you’re doing musically and hear when the transcription isn’t accurate.

But they can be frustrating or misleading if you’re a beginner trying to get the hang of music. In my experience, the site tended to oversimplify chords in a way that sounds off. Sometimes it named chords with the wrong ’spelling’ (ie, A# instead of Bb), which would not be helpful to a student new to music theory.

It’s better to get a lead sheet that’s been revised by a professional musician.



Did you have a strict practice schedule when you started learning the guitar?

I started studying music and learning the guitar seriously as an adult (21 years). I took it seriously, as almost right from the beginning I was considering making it a career. When I was getting an undergraduate degree I practiced a ton.

I can’t say it was a strict schedule because I also had to balance working part-time. But I did what I could and focused a lot on technique, which helped me improve quickly.


Sometimes you have to do what pays the bills even if it’s exciting, but as long as you continue with projects that do fulfill you in addition to the ones that pay, you’ll keep growing.


What projects are you currently working on?

My main focus since moving to Spain 10 years ago has been flamenco guitar. In the last year or so I’ve been branching out a bit, it’s refreshing to try new things and learn some new skills.

This month I’m learning a ton of Rumbas and Sevillanas to play at the Feria, a big spring festival in Seville. The music is related to flamenco but demands different techniques and repertoire knowledge. Also, I recently started playing with a group that plays Afro-Latino covers, which is outside of my expertise. That’s a fun learning experience.

Specifically for that group, I bought my first amplified guitar (a Godin multiac), which is opening up new avenues. And then I still accompany flamenco dance classes regularly and play in tablaos (flamenco venues) when jobs come up.


Do you have any advice for young musicians who want to make music a career?

Be flexible and open to what it means to make music a career. There are so many ways to be a professional musician. Whatever stereotypes come to your mind first (rock star, symphony musician, singer-songwriter), barely scratch the surface of the options out there.

Explore paths that speak to you creatively, and develop skills and talents that way, rather than following some sort of thought-out plan to get to a destination. For example, maybe for a while, you'll be into developing your skills on a particular instrument, then you’ll tour with your band, and then later get into recording and audio engineering.

There really isn’t a final destination or goal in a music career, it’s more about pursuing projects that excite you in the moment and accumulating skills that you can use to make a living. Sometimes you have to do what pays the bills even if it’s exciting, but as long as you continue with projects that do fulfill you in addition to the ones that pay, you’ll keep growing.


Connect With Leah Kruszewski
Website / Lessonface

About Magesh Magesh

Magesh is a musician and producer who has worked with Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Nelly Furtado, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He released an instructional drumming DVD called "Unique Beats" where he mixed the drum kit with electronics and Indian hand percussion. He recently moved from Australia to the UK to explore new musical opportunities.
Website: mageshdrumteacher.co.uk

Contact Magesh Magesh at magesh.magesh7@gmail.com

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