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Arts & Entertainment

Playing Live: Connecting With the Listener

Carlos Santana

Lesson time 9:07 min

Learn Carlos’s approach to reeling in an audience, connecting with them on an individual level, and carrying them through an emotionally compelling performance.

Carlos Santana
Teaches the Art and Soul of Guitar
Carlos Santana teaches you how he creates a distinct, soulful guitar sound that moves the hearts of audiences.


Intensity of intentionality is a must requirement for music. For example, when you see a praying mantis, and he's going like this, and you know he's going to get it, but he's just going like this and he's creating tension just by looking at it. All of a sudden he goes and he gets it. You know? But just by doing like this, like this, you know he's going to leap and get what he wants. It's important to create that kind of tension and any kind of music that you make. There's tension and release, tension and release. So just practice looking at a praying mantis. Just look at it, and see how focused that that thing is, man. All of a sudden, zip. You know, and you're like oh! When, again, when you hit that note-- [PLAYING GUITAR] --it's like whoo. People are like-- and you know when they do that, it's really effective. Because if you're like-- [PLAYING GUITAR] And when you go like that, the drummer goes, pisht at the same time with the cymbal. (SINGING) Da da da da, pisht. Spat! (SINGING) Dun, dun. People like, oh. Then you know you're in the right club. This is not tapioca blues. This is mean all the way. Good mean. It's good mean, blues you know? And that's what I love about Chicago, man. They go-- [PLAYING GUITAR] You know? And you hear that pist, pop. (SINGING) dun, dun. You know? And then that then that silence afterwards is just as powerful as a guy playing a gazillion notes per second. You know? You're like, oh. 'Cause we're here to make contact. If you're a musician and you don't make contact, then what's the point? You know? I saw a person play piano one time at Nordstrom's. And he was so good. He was playing a Jimi Hendrix song. All of a sudden, there was a big crowd around him while he was playing. And nobody was buying anything. So of course, they fired him. If you play music and people keep shopping and they don't listen to you, what's the point? So if you get fired from Nordstrom, that's a badge of honor. [PLAYING GUITAR] Be courageous. Don't be a coward. Be courageous, don't be a coward. Brave people go in there, and they said oh, we got this good stuff for you. This is you know all the way to the back is when people are out this mall, you're going to be seeing a rocking. And I love seeing everything from-- starting with because we start with the security guard people. Let's get them first. And then they start, they start going like this. They put their hat like this, and they're like. You know the badges hanging, and then-- I love attacking the security guards. Because once you get them, the people going to stand up. Because they're already like in it, you know? And sometimes they're-- sometimes they're like this. Like I dare you to make me feel it. And I'm like, check it out. This guy in Rome. He had that look like, I don't even know why I'm here. Ugh, or whatever. And I said-- and the whole band is looking at me, because I got him. I'm zeroing in on this guy. So I go,...

Find the heart of your sound

With 10 Grammys and almost 50 years on stage, Carlos Santana teaches you how to play guitar in his spiritual style. Learn how he weaves emotion, artistic expression, and musical genres from across the world to create a sound that transcends classifications and connects with audiences. Join Carlos in his studio as he breaks down his process note by note—so you can discover the soul of your sound.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Santana has developed such a brilliant way of borrowing music from around the world and - with his own band - creates something completely original. very inspiring.

I learned a lot about myself and what it means to be an artist. It was inspirational to hear the words that Santana had to say and has inspired me to really dive in and find my sound. I could watch and listen to what he had to say a million times over.

Carlos is very inspiring! I liked it all. I would have liked to see him go through one of his songs and explain both the technique and the emotion

Actually, this has helped me in learning how to treat people. That was a shock to realize. I also learned more about the focus on the authenticity being who you are when you play and more so when you walk through life.


Faye L.

Love the part where he talks about the man who strummed the guitar and became one with the music

Gretchen T.

The ugly face really helped! I sometimes make faces to hit a high note, this is empowering!

Judy C.

I just love listening to Carlos Santana. He is as he speaks. I feel so invited into his world I'ld love to have him over for dinner to eat, drink, jam and enjoy life.


Tomorrow I will do everything like Carlos! When I breath, I'm gonna breath the shit out of that breath! My walk to the car is gonna be the fucking best walk I've ever done. Shit, I don't even play guitar but tomorrow I'm gonna make an ugly face while I drink the shit out of my coffee! I'm just saying.... I'm inspired to be the best me I can be. Tomorrow I'm gonna annihilate. Period

Mark B.

Whenever I hear someone sing I always wonder where to be creative, and hearing you explain that process really hammers home again the confidence you always preach. Also, I strive daily to play and deliver beautiful melodies like you Mr Santana.. this class is so inspiring especially to hear from you directly in these videos.. so much to take away eac time I watch.. Greatest class ever.

Roberta H.

Love this lesson. I particularly like the ritual of connecting your heart to your eyes before you play. We are not only learning how to be good guitar players and musicians, we're learning how to be good humans.

Brett B.

Some really useful instruction here! I love the story about the security guard. Find a way to connect with the audience! And I am eager to try the exercise of connecting the eyes and the heart before playing.... Now that is something I've never heard before and probably wouldn't think of myself! Thanks also for the reminder on ugly faces! I have been neglecting my guitar faces lately... Will try harder!

Joe C.

Good advice to complement my voice training as well - doesn't look pretty / energy / tension and release. Thanks Carlos.

Dan A.

to be honest this feels like a swimming lesson... you never really know what to do unless you wet you butt hehe joke I'm heading to Japan in February for about 3 months. I have some family business I need to take care of there. So whilst I still have a day job I'm going still be making music there. Maybe even land a record deal for my band.

Tom B.

At Thanksgiving, we had get together with our church group and two of us brought guitars to play some songs for everyone to sing. Afterward, I broke out the maracas, claves, and tambourines and began playing some Latin tunes. My rhythm section was made up of 3 to 6 year old girls and they had a great time as did their parents and we rocked the backyard!!! I gave them their part to play and they stayed in time. Your story of the security guard reminded made me want to share this! Great lesson Carlos!!!