Photo cred: Eddie Adams/Associated Press

I just read in the NY Times

of the passing of Jose Molina – the first dancer whose class I ever played for. Weird as it sounds, I have very fond memories of Jose yelling at me for my lack of understanding about flamenco. He was right to be mad at me, really. I had no business playing for class when I had literally just begun, months earlier, to play flamenco. Yet he tolerated me, and after each class I ran home to learn the thing I was ashamed not to know, or I would ask my guitar teacher, Dennis Koster, what exactly he was talking about.

Among other things, he taught me how useful repetition was to learning. For the sake of his students we would play the same little bits over and over, and this happened to be exactly what I needed at the time to also learn the various patterns that we accumulate in our ears and our muscle memory to be able to accompany dance. He had no reason to give me a chance, really, but he did.

I didn’t know him well, or appreciate what a great opportunity he was giving me.

But I always remember him fondly, with his shirt tied backwards around his waist so he could demonstrate what the mostly female dancers should do with their skirts. He was the first in a long line of very generous dancers who put up with the ignorance of a kid who just wanted to learn about flamenco, and I will always be grateful for this.