"Luthier" (noun. Spanish) - A person who makes or repairs stringed instruments.
"Lutheria" - A school for such instruction.
Attracted by the sounds of guitar music drifting through the warm evening air, I wander into la Escuela de Lutheria in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Comprised of just a workshop and a small office tucked inside La Manzana de las Luces, the school attracts students from all over Argentina looking to master a skill set still in demand by the world’s top musicians.
Working mainly with hand tools, pupils pick up the art of instrument-making by first learning how to make the traditional spanish guitar. After learning the basics they continue on, building instruments of their choice.
Dedicating their evenings to the discipline, they listen to music, work, and pass communal gourds of the traditional yerba mate tea. Conversations occasionally punctuate long periods of intense focus as they are completely absorbed in their shaping, sanding, and assembling. The teacher and founder, master Wayra Müyoj, pads silently around the room inspecting the progress of each piece and offering suggestions and advice.
My Spanish is as barely functional as their English and communication is limited to a few hand gestures, tenseless verbs, and mistaken nouns. Somehow the message gets across that I’m taking pictures as part of a personal project on learning. It's interesting to work in such close proximity with a group of people and have very little idea of what they're saying. The sounds of their voices meld into the ambient music as I focus all of my attention on creating images. Eventually they resign to the fact that I am not just a passing turista and am sticking around for awhile. I become just a minor nuisance as I click away, another instrument punctuating the strands of Spanish guitar seeping from a dust covered stereo in the corner.
Visitarlos a http://www.jatunmaki.com.ar
What I learned on the shoot: People crave tradition, whether it's fine craftsmanship or sharing a gourd of bitter tea.