INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: On Practice and Plateaus


Author Message
On Practice and Plateaus Mar 05, 2003 11:44 a.m.

A while back there was an excellent discussion on practice regimen and some excellent tips were offered - stick to a single theme for a session, play the kaida theme over and over and over and then add paltas, set goals like working towards a complete solo performance, etc being some particularly helpful ones.

I would like to continue the discussion along the same lines and discuss the inevitable plateaus one will encounter in one's training - periods extending into months where progress appears to stagnate. Is this fairly common ? Other than plain stubbornness and being at it (and I have no problem if that is all there is to it) , are there any other remedies ? The reason I ask this is that in my particular case, after close to 3 years of playing, I was still very dissatisfied with my teentaal theka. Out of pure frustration, I switched to playing SitarKhani a lot and soon found out within a matter of weeks that it helped my sound production and laya to such an extent that the theka started sounding a lot better. It may have been pure chance, but maybe it wasn't. Maybe there are such specific devices for specific ruts. Opinions ? Similar experiences ?

My current plateau is building speed in the kaida - even though all kaidas that I have heard in performance are in medium tempo, my teacher insists I need to play these a lot faster. And it makes sense - only if these are 'taiyyar' in drut can I pick and choose any paltas at will and sprinkle them in my theka at appropriate instances, if I feel like. What are some other experiences in building kaida speed ?

The next plateau and I can see it even before getting there is filling the gaps of the vilambit ektaal appropriately. I hear Nizamuddin Khan do that, and I would give an arm and a leg (ok, just a leg) to sound 10% as good. I would be very interested in finding out how others progressed from playing at medium and even fast tempos to the leisurely pace of the bada khayal - the skills and aesthetics that it demands seem to be so much different (and difficult, to my mind). Because my interests are almost exclusive to classical vocal accompaniment, a sweet vilambit theka is my ultimate goal. As an aside, does anybody else also find that the vilambit is where the tabla player's signature is so distinct that it is almost impossible to mistake one for the other (at least for all the big names) ?

Enough rambling for now,


Re:On Practice and Plateaus Mar 05, 2003 03:05 p.m.

What I have found to be the most useful in getting out of ruts is to be around someone that is more advanced.
In order to comprehend an improvement your mind must signal that it is possible then comprehend how it is possible . After this your body will work toward that possibility through practice. You must stretch for this. Sort of ford the ocean of stagnancy, beat yourself into the next level, sweat, sweat and more sweat. This is why who you are around is so important. You also need muscle , I know when my arms are out of shape and my playing suffers drastically . If you don't have someone to drive you find tabla videos. Watch these tabla videos like Prafulla, take something and drive yourself for a month to play it . This is what Zakirs class is about , he is going to play something that is just on the edge of your capability and at a tempo that hurts! and keep you playing for 1:30 minutes straight. We literally sweat a pint of water , people comeout soaked there drums soggy, it's physical , its just like anything else in life . Don't expect big progress without suffering. But keep your eye on something , don't lose focus , pick a video or at least audio , just a small thing and focus on that while you practice all your things then use that as a meter . Are you getting towards it , are you closer or are you floundering.
The other night 3 of us practiced
dha-tere,kita taka, terekita, geredhere, dhere dhere, kitataka, dha-tere, kitataka, | dha-tere, kitataka, terekita, dha-tete, gerenaga, dhi ne naga, dha-tere, kitataka| Kali and all sorts of paltas at a gruelling speed for over an hour . It's painful but a good pain. For me the fact that 2 other people are as good or better than me drives me to improve.

[quote]kulpreet (Mar 05, 2003 11:44 a.m.):
A while back there was an excellent discussion on practice regimen and some excellent tips were offered - stick to a single theme for a session, play the kaida theme over and over and over and then add paltas, set goals like working towards a complete solo performance, etc being some particularly helpful ones.

Re:On Practice and Plateaus Mar 05, 2003 05:31 p.m.

I try to raise new compositions to a performance level. I practice strict technical exercises and also just themes of bunch of kaidas or relas to keep it going. I do a lot of thinking about my own ideas, listening cds and watching videos. I record my solo every once in a while to see how I am developing. I don't take headache of the things that I am not yet able to perform. I know that if I just keep on working it will come. I am enjoying of the compositions that I am able to play at performance tempo and when playing a solo I play that material. Different tals are not too big problem for me. Eventually I want to be able to play the whole spectrum of tabla compositions and use all its different colours. Technic just don't come over night as you all know.
Re:On Practice and Plateaus Mar 06, 2003 09:05 a.m.

Dear all, Thanks for the above ideas. The idea from Zakir-ji sounds great. I have been in a bit of a rut for a long time now. I will try that one. Where I live is still freezing now so I wont have to sweat buckets.
I have one question though to ask about this style of practice. If you feel pain in your hand after a lot of prctice should you push through this barrier as someone in a gym would do? Or does this risk damaging your hand? I don't want to do any damage to my hand.
I often find that the individual doesn't notice their own improvements. So when you think you are in a rut maybe it's not as much as you think. I often think I have made no progress but then my girfriend says that I have got better. This is also the same when studying languages too.
Keep on trying everyone, Steve
Re:On Practice and Plateaus Mar 06, 2003 09:23 a.m.

About the rut or plateau, this happens on every musical instrument, not just tabla. It's a normal part of the learning process. Also, the more advanced you get, the longer these plateaus will be, and the less you will improve given a certain amount of time.

You just have to be patient, and try to stimulate yourself in different ways. Like Warren said, practicing with other people at your level, or more advanced is really great.

About the pain issue, I remember posting on this last year; maybe the post is still around if you search for it. If not... basically, there's good pain and bad pain. Be aware which one your pain is, otherwise you'll end up with a bad case of tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Be very careful...

Re:On Practice and Plateaus Mar 06, 2003 02:19 p.m.

Thanks all for the suggestions - I will most certainly these out.

No takers for strategies for developing vilambit vocal accompaniment - other than of-course listening and listening a lot ??

[Previous] [Up] [Next]