The City of Sunny Isles Beach offers lessons in a variety of subjects at Pelican Community Park (18115 North Bay Road). Qualified instructors give lessons in art, guitar, gymnastics, musical theatre, piano and Lego, to name a few. The guitar instructor, Rig Castellanos, has a bachelor’s degree in music, professional performing experience, plus a teaching philosophy that works with most any student.
Rig was born in Cuba and immigrated to South Florida in the 1960s. At home he listened to both Spanish classical music and contemporary American music. He liked to sing along to the radio with the likes of Elvis and the Beatles. When he was about 10 years old, he saw a guitar in a pawn shop window in downtown Miami and begged his father for the instrument so that he could “play like Elvis”. When he was 11, Rig got that guitar as a Christmas gift and by listening to the Beatles album A Hard Day’s Night, proceeded to teach himself how to play tunes using only one string. He studied music theory in school and picked up chords from others, teaching himself to play over a two year period of time.
Rig was able to begin more serious music education by taking classes at Miami Dade College, eventually enrolling at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, studying guitar and earning a bachelor’s degree. He started playing “World Music” in the late 60s, before it was called that, and studied micro-tonal music in college. Rig has also learned to play the piano, electric bass guitar, and the ukulele. He’s currently a freelance musician and instructor. In his professional career he played with the Baboons when they recorded: Global Gumbo. He has his own band, Rig Cast Band, which performs around South Florida.
He began teaching others the guitar even as he was becoming more proficient himself. Because of his early experience, learning the guitar on his own, he was inspired to help others. When he teaches students, he draws on that memory of the frustration at the lack of formal education, and then finally the privilege to be able to get lessons and eventually become proficient.
Rig teaches both theory and technique, but also asks his students to think about what it was that made them want to take guitar lessons. He tells his students that they need 3 things to become a good guitar player: intellect (theory and reading music), heart/inspiration (God-given gift) and technique (holding the guitar, pick, strumming, fingering notes & chords). He understands that there is a process to master an instrument or a piece of music. He respects differences in each student and uses an individualized approach, teaching in a group but spending time also to instruct each student individually. He recommends 30 minutes a day practice for his students.
He can see a correlation between education and music, “Many times the attention span is not good with kids in school, but teaching an instrument trains them to focus on the moment and to stop and think.” Sound memory is developed when learning to play. This develops discipline and benefits the child in all aspects of their life. He noticed that kids are very demanding of each other when they play; so he is equally demanding of the students in their lessons.
If he has to be stern, he will be, knowing that it helps them in the end. The culmination of the learning experience comes when he sees them become enchanted with what they are able to do, as they play along with him to make a song.
If you have a child from first to twelfth grade who would like to learn guitar, this is an opportunity for them to spend time with a wonderfully caring instructor, gifted with a wealth of experience and patience. To register for guitar lessons, or any other programs offered, stop by Pelican Community Park registration desk, seven days a week.
For more information call 305-792-1706.