If you are completely new to the Cuatro and to string instruments, the recommendation is always to start from the very beginning. The first lessons provided are the very basics of how to play, what to look out for and getting a hang of the most basic techniques you need to know. Our lessons are categorized in several ways, one of which being the difficulty level. Try not to get ahead of yourself and following the curriculum as much as possible.
Follow the Lessons Chronologically and Start to See Results!
It is highly important to take time with the lessons. The more time you dedicate to the techniques and to practice, the better you will advance. The first lessons will be relating to how to tune the Cuatro, some housekeeping to bear in mind, beginners strumming techniques, an easy rhythm and ultimately your first song!!
If you have ever dreamt of playing the Ukulele, this is the perfect course to start!
We have created 5 lessons with the very basics to learn how to strum and how to play 3 simple chords. We will guide you with some easy steps so you can repeat these chords and get to practice some simple exercises with your own Ukulele.
The Cuatro is a four string instrument originating in the northern areas of South American and the Caribbean. Similar to the Ukulele in many aspects, but having some very specific characteristics as far as how it looks and how it is played. The first characteristic we can pin point on the Cuatro is the pick guard or fingerboard which covers the top half of the instrument. Typically this is made with a different kind of wood and it gives the instrument a distinctive look to it.
How about the size of the Cuatro? Well, its not as small as a Ukulele and not as big as a guitar, but the sound of the instrument makes it seem as if it is a heavy weight as it has a very rich sound. The instrument can be played very comfortably either standing up with no strap or sitting down.
The uniqueness of the Cuatro is found within it’s ability to be a percussion and string instrument at the same time. Cuatro players (Cuatristas) use different strumming techniques to give the effect of a percussion accompanying the music.
Here’s a quick demonstration on how the Cuatro sounds:
Cuatro Demonstration by Professor Adrian Toro
Cuatro Demonstration by Professor Luis Natera
In this course we will give you an introduction on how to play the Cuatro using your Uke experience. We’ll first see how to tune and hold the instrument and later how to play chords and strumming patters.
Can I play Ukulele songs with the Cuatro?
You can definitely make use of Ukulele interpretations with the Cuatro. The resulting sounds can come across differently, but essentially as long as you make use of the same chords and the rhythm, then you can repeat what you play with the Cuatro. Translating the interpretations is slightly different.
It is not as easy as moving over a couple of frets, but it is easy to see how we come to this conclusion. The traditional tuning of the Ukulele is (G – C – E – A) and the tuning of the Cuatro is (A – D – F# – B). Basically everything is one tone lower than the Cuatro. In fact, the Ukulele can be tuned the same as the Cuatro! If you have some favourite music for the Uke, give it a try with the Cuatro! We have a full song library where you can find chords for both Ukulele and Cuatro.
Let’s start our introduction to the Cuatro. Select the next lesson to start:
Saturdays 10:00 – 15:00 CET (What Time is It?)
Online learning is a great way to learn how to play the Cuatro or Bandola, but sometimes we prefer a more conventional way of learning.
We are now offering the possibility to take private lessons with Darwin Medina who is one of the emerging artist in the world of the Cuatro. Where are these lessons being offered? From the comfort of your own home! The private lessons are offered through Skype or Google Hangout sessions and can be followed from any location.
Exploring Your Fretboard Public Demonstration
How are the classes lead?
Darwin Medina has a wealth of experience as an instructor and will first evaluate the level of his student. Based on the level and goal of the student, he will lead the lessons and orientate them towards achieving your goals as a Cuatro student. The lessons can be catered to your liking, whether you wish to learn a couple of rhythms, how to play a specific song or wish to improve your current skills, the classes will be specific to you.
Classes can be viewed in English or Spanish!
Lessons are purchased in packages of 4 hours. Typically each class has the duration of 1 hour, but this can be discussed with the instructor to be extended to 1.5 hours. After having purchased the 4 hour package, you will be contacted directly by our scheduling team to set up the first appointment. After direct contact has been established, then the instructor will organize the remaining lessons.
Cost of Lessons
The lessons offered are 25 USD per hour with a grant total of 4 hours per package.
By purchasing a 4 hour package of lessons with Darwin Medina, you will receive a complementary 1 month of TuCuatro membership to our Learning Program Courses!
Are you ready to take the next step in your Cuatro learning?
There are such a vast amount of rhythms to touch upon with any musical instrument….and the Cuatro is no different. In this course we focus in on several rhythms which are living more in the shadows of the more popular genres such as Joropo and Salsa. There are some amazing songs coupled to these rhythms and we will take you through the soloist versions of some of these songs.
One of the more famous songs we will be exploring is Moliendo Cafe by Hugo Blanco which is played using the rhythm of Orquidea. A marvelous way of expressing one self and you will have plenty of material to review relating to a variety of rhythms.
We will also be exploring more of the Periquera rhythm and see how it is to be interpreted in numerous positions along the fretboard of the Cuatro. This in itself is highly useful for students who are in search of improving their ability to switch between chords along the fretboard and increasing their familiarity in chord variations.
Level 1: Get to know your instrument. Learn all parts of the cuatro with this introduction.
Expanding Your Skill Set
Whenever we see a musician playing amazing pieces, doing improvisations which are out of this world and are dominating their instrument like never before, we do wonder how is it that we can get to that level. The answer is a combination of solid theory, skills knowledge advancement and years of solid practice. Within the different levels that are typically considered, there are different sub levels relating entirely to the amount of time that a student has been experiencing within that stage. The advice is, be patient and make sure that you practice, continue to explore your instrument on your own and expand your toolbox of skills.
Within this lesson, we will touch upon some of the advanced techniques used by Cuatristas. Although individually they can be applied by intermediate players, it does take some time to practice each and every one of these individual techniques. If we take some strumming techniques for example, the execution can be practiced with patience and with dedication. The application of the strumming whilst playing your instrument is a different level all together. This is so because when we are trying to maintain a rhythm, a special strum or a finger picking technique may through us off and as a result jeopardize the whole piece in itself.
The overall learning objectives of this course is for you to familiarize yourself with some of the advanced techniques used by the greats. We also have a section dedicated to the strumming techniques by some of the best and exclusive Cuatristas. This can be considered as an introduction to your exposure to advanced techniques. We will work on expanding your toolbox and preparing you to finalize your intermediate level and begin to enter the realm of the advanced student. Remember, your progression depends on you!
Level 8: Apply special techniques to your strumming and get to be an intermediate cuatrista.
Level 7: An introduction to intermediate techniques and tricks to get better with the cuatro.
Level 6: Take off with Joropo and learn the different progressions and chords used.
Level 5: Start developing your speed. Practice with Joropo and different Waltz.
Level 4: Learn the difficult art of “Frenados”. A technique that only exist for the cuatro.