INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Too Slow

 

Author Message
Chris
Too Slow Dec 20, 2002 08:52 p.m.


It is almost a year now I started playing the Sitar, but it is so slow to learn... I love the music but now I lack interest... how do I revive that?
Jeff
Re:Too Slow Dec 21, 2002 12:52 a.m.


Hi Chris, Did you ever hear the saying "writers write"? For me, I have to play, I have to create. Be it on sitar or guitar. Before music I painted and did ink and pastels, for me its just something that has to be done. So you play or you dont. If you have to force yourself to do an activitie then why do it? Why strain to have an interest in something if your not really interested in it? I dont want to discourage you from learning this great instrument but maybe your calling is something else. Take me for example, I have no interest in working at all, so I work only when I must. But, I have an almost un-human interest in beer, soooooo I drink as much as I can. You see what I'm saying, you too can be a chronically unemployed drunk like me if you try hard enough. Seriously though, if you want to play then play.
Lars
Re:Too Slow Dec 21, 2002 01:09 a.m.


Hi Chris,
Don't get discouraged, life is full of peaks and valleys you know? Maybe you need to let it rest awhile......or if you've decided to become the best player you can be then you should 'force' yourself.......if you don't feel creative then play some exercises or a little Alap before bedtime, etc. Or put on your favorite player and play along in Alap as well may help rekindle your spirit.....! Don't worry......
Russ
Re:Too Slow Dec 21, 2002 01:43 p.m.


I think we all go thru that. I played a little sitar from about 1970 to 1974. Then I got bored with it and put it the closet. I picked back up on guitar early synthesizer. I didn't pick up the sitar again until somewhere around 1994. It lay dormant for nearly 20 years! But then I felt like going back to the old flame, and I'm glad I did. So, like everybody has said, if you have no passion for it, then why bother?
Amitava
Re:Too Slow Dec 23, 2002 12:08 a.m.


Strangely, attending live performances and/or listening to recordings you enjoyed in the past can help. However, a good liveperformance can be as inspirational and dipressing at the same time. The latter comes from the knowledge that I will never be that good. But it does make me practice harder for some strange reason. I guess it depends on your personality and objectives...
Lars
Re:Too Slow Dec 23, 2002 01:33 a.m.


A great point Amitava!........attending a live concert is a great way to revive your enthusiasm or go visit a friend who is into the music!
Stephen
Re:Too Slow Dec 23, 2002 07:56 a.m.


I have noticed the phenominon of "steps" throughout the two years I have been practicing sitar. At first the climb to each new level of skill, or "step", was rapid and often went unnoticed. As the first months slid by, it became more pronounced. Now, I will lay in the doldrums of a plateau for weeks, feeling like I'm playing the same thing over and over with no improvement. And then I will intro duce one extra/less note or strumming technique and a whole better version of my playing will emerge. Then for weeks I will see advancement on a daily basis, trying to figure out if I have any more hours in the "paid time off" bank so that I can leave work a few hours early and get home to my sitar.
Playing a CD or attending a concert can be good, especially if you get there 45 minutes early and are in the first few rows where you can actually see what is going on. And then you state "I'll never be that good". It is a cycle that you are a part of. I recall an old Steve McQueen or Charles Bronson movie where the helicopter pilot is teaching the guy, Steve or Charles, how to fly the helicopter so that he can swoop in and rescue the imprisoned unfortunate one and told the helicopter pilot that he had two weeks to be as good of pilot as his helio-guru. To this, the pilot quipped, "you will never be as good as me, as I just keep getting better". You are occupying a point in time, a point where many possess greater skill on the sitar than you, but with time you will have more skill than many. Unless you are performing or have some other urgent agenda, sit down and play only for yourself. If you find that you are boring yourself, perhaps this instrument or the musical form of self-expression isn't for you and you should go off and do something different, invent the longer lasting light bulb or something. If you play for yourself and enjoyment, enthusiam, and desire to play as well as you can for yourself are there, the skill will reveal itself in a unit of time that is directly proportional to the amount of quality time you put into it.
If you don't enjoy it, quit.
If you enjoy it, persue it.
If you totally enjoy it, you might just have the desire required to approach some form of mastery of the elusive sitar.
Time (practice) will tell.
Best of luck
Russ
Re:Too Slow Dec 23, 2002 02:05 p.m.


Yes, I think these are all good answers. The original question was how to revive your interest because it takes so long to learn and you get bored with it?

I agree with the guys that going to a live concert can help, but that's too rare where I live. So, I listen to a lot of sitar CDs by various artists, and I've found that some of my playing already sounds a bit like my favorites. A little bit anyway. Each time I play, I push myself to play with a little more control, just a little faster and just a little more complex. And I do love to invent my own music which sounds somewhat like the raga that's playing in my head at the time. All of this keeps the boredom away for me.

All that being said, yes you will not only get bored but also frustrated at times. This does take years to learn. But if you do the above, it becomes fun. Does to me anyway.

I have no intention of dedicating my life to the instrument or music, so I know I will never be as the "names" are. I'll only be as good as I want to be, and that is enough.

Jeff
Re:Too Slow Dec 24, 2002 12:19 p.m.


Another thing I do to keep stuff fresh is switch instruments. Right now I,m playing a little more didge than usual, as a matter of fact I am going to up-grade to a nice $200 one. Anywho, I go from guitar to sitar to mountain dulcimer to didge etc, etc,, and when I get back to the sitar I'll have some fresh ideas. I have the luxury of many different instruments so this doesnt apply to everbody. Another thing I just took up is bird watching believe it or not, when I come back from hiking and "watching" I have a little more enthusiasm to play for some reason.
Jeff
Re:Too Slow Dec 24, 2002 12:27 p.m.


Another thing I do to keep stuff fresh is switch instruments. Right now I,m playing a little more didge than usual, as a matter of fact I am going to up-grade to a nice $200 one. Anywho, I go from guitar to sitar to mountain dulcimer to didge etc, etc,, and when I get back to the sitar I'll have some fresh ideas. I have the luxury of many different instruments so this doesnt apply to everbody. Another thing I just took up is bird watching believe it or not, when I come back from hiking and "watching" I have a little more enthusiasm to play for some reason.
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 02, 2003 12:18 p.m.


Chris -- A couple of additional thoughts: (1) I don't have a teacher because there isn't anyone available in my area. If you don't currently have a teacher, and if you can find one near you, perhaps that would accelerate your progress. (2) Are you perhaps trying to learn music that is hard at your stage of development? When I taught classical guitar years ago, I found that the worst thing students could do would be to fall in love with some huge piece that was much to difficult and then knock themselves out trying to learn it. The result was usually frustration followed by boredom and then loss of interest. The cure was to get them to work on things that were well within their range of ability. This would lead to a series of small successes that would cheer them up and bit by bit, result in progress.
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 03, 2003 02:30 p.m.


One more thought on what to do when it seems like progress is not happening quickly enough -- I once read an article by a piano player who said that while he was temporarily in the doldrums, he kept himself going by teaching himself to "play by ear." He would pick a little tune that he was able to sing or hum and try to play it on his instrument. At first he was very bad at it, but he kept on challenging himself to continue trying. Finally he devised an exercise where he would begin trying to play a tune by ear but as soon as he made even the smallest mistake he would go back to the beginning and start over. He eventually was able to pretty much play any melody in his head perfectly on the first try. Now he plays in clubs and takes requests from the audience and plays them ad lib, without sheet music or preparation. (Of course he also needed to learn alot about harmony but thtas another story.) I think that having this kind of direct mind-to-instrument connection would be a wonderful thing for any sitar student. I'm sure all the professionals can do this readily. I sure can't -- but I have made a list of 150 tunes and I use the above method on them -- one a day. I'm getting a little better at it, and it's fun. Particulary when I'm not in the mood for working on my usual stuff. Maybe you'd enjoy this too ...
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 03, 2003 02:59 p.m.


Bob, you described quite well the characteristics of those able to "play by ear". Perhaps 19 out of 20 guitarists, both professional and amateur, have never had a lesson from anybody, and some of those are "big names" in the business too. Whether or not everyone has this ability I can't say, but if you do and you REALLY want to learn any instrument, then you can by simply listening carefully and attempt to duplicate what you hear. This does involve much repitition, time, and learning the capabilities of the instrument (or your voice if that's your instrument). Somewhat frustrating in the beginning for everybody unless you're a prodigy, but in time, you do improve and eventually sound pretty good. Once you hear the change, that is reinforcement enough to keep you going....
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 06, 2003 11:16 a.m.


Just for the record, I didn't mean to imply that I believe being able to "play by ear" is necessary. I have known quite a few people who play an instrument very well but can't really play by ear at all. I suspect that there is some degree of inborn ability that we don't all have in equal amounts. I myself have very little such ability and that was one of the primary reasons that when I was in my late teens I gave up on trying to play rock guitar and went to classical where you could get your hands on the sheet music and know exactly what the notes were. Not to plug a product, but I recently downloaded a demo version of something called Slow Gold from the Worldwide Woodshed site which will slow down any CD to make it easier to hear what's being played. You can also adjust the pitch so that you can match it perfectly to your instrument. I recently used this software to copy Buddhadev (sp?)das Gupta's brief rendition of raga Adana from "Raga Guide." This is the first time I've had any real success with learning something from a recording and I feel like it kind of makes up just a littler for all the Jimi Hendrix solos I couldn't work out way back when.
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 06, 2003 01:02 p.m.


Oops, sorry Bob. I guess maybe we're opposites. I tried and tried to learn how to play piano and guitar using sheet music, but I was awful and gave up. I could always play just about anything "by ear" on several instruments (odd, since there is nobody else in my family I know of that can do that).
Since Indian music doesn't use sheet music, playing by-ear seems to work for me. I'm told one can learn ICM using the hybrid sargam- equivalent of our staff notation, but only to a point!
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 07, 2003 02:49 p.m.


I guess it just goes to show how different from each people can be in their approaches and aptitudes. I am excited about improving my ear abilities and hopefully Slow Gold will help. I also came across a little ear training game on the Web -- I don't remember where, but if anyone wants it, I will e-mail it to them. As there are no sitar teachers here in Cincinnati or anywhere nearby I have a secret ambition to save up vacation time and money and be able to spend a week in some town where there is a teacher who'd be willing to work with me for maybe an hour a day. This is probably outof the question for the next year or so.
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 07, 2003 05:15 p.m.


Hey Bob;
I thought Hasu Patel lived and taught sitar in Cincinatti or close by? I have CD by her, and she's not bad. Oh, and I've seen other posts on this forum from sitarjis in Cincinatti, so you have company there.

I'm planning on going to College Station Texas sometime in May this year to continue sitar lessons with Indrajit Banerjee. I think he prefers to teach more than one at a time if possible. The more the merrier. So, would be cool if you could make it for a week.

PS- I could never play Hendrix either....

Stephen
Re:Too Slow Jan 08, 2003 07:42 a.m.


I think she lives in Westlake Ohio, or something like that, up near Columbus. If she lived in Cincinnati, I'd be all over it as Cin City is just an hour and a half away. But if further research reveals that she is in Cincinnati, let me know.
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 08, 2003 11:27 a.m.


Oops, you're right Stephen. Slip of the memory. How far are you from St. Louis, home of Ust. Imrat Khan (who also teaches)? Since you're a big fan of Drupaad and he is a master of that form, would be a good one to try for if you can.
Stephen
Re:Too Slow Jan 08, 2003 02:51 p.m.


I have talked with Ustad Khan about training with him. But, St. Louis is 6 hours away. I have been researching a relocation after this upcoming May to either St. Louis or Chicago so that I could locate an instructor. Now if I win the lottery, I would just move to Mumbai, but as they say - If you want to win, you have to play.
K.K.
Re:Too Slow Jan 08, 2003 06:28 p.m.


...and if you want to play, you have to pay.
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 13, 2003 11:54 a.m.


Russ, thanks very much for your comments. I tried to call Hasu Patel a few months ago but the number I got from the Guru Shishya database had been disconnected. I just got a new number for her from Hasu's own Website. Before I talk try calling her, I've got to evalute how often I can really commit to making the four-hour drive from Cininnati to Westlake. As far as participating in studying with in Texas, it sounds like fun and undoubtedly a fine learning experince, but that's a major trip with expenses and I'd really have to think carefully before signing up. Thanks for letting me know about it, and who knows, maybe I'll wind up going if I can get the money, the vacation time from work, etc.!
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 13, 2003 12:13 p.m.


You bet Bob. Yes, that's a long drive for you, but my drive is 800 miles plus. I'm taking a bus next time. Texas is just too damn big! Know what you mean about expenses; I racked up a pretty good tab last year, but the training was first-class. Just a drag that it can only be done once a year. Your situation is a bit better. Like the guys say, this can be an expensive hobby! Good luck.
Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 14, 2003 02:01 p.m.


Russ -- I replied to your last message early yesterday, but I don't see it posted. I may try to get in touch with Hasu, but before I do, I need to sit down and figure out how often I can honestly commit to making the 5-hour drive up to Cleveland. I'm sure she's well worth it, and if I do decice to take the plunge, I wnt to be sure that my road trip energy level is high enough to stay the course. Texas sounds like quite an adventure, but my going depends on how busy we are at work and how much change I have left after the colleges my kids go to turn me upside down and shake me.
Russ
Re:Too Slow Jan 14, 2003 05:58 p.m.


I understand that. I teach technology at a university, and these kids look broke most of the time. If you don't have scholarships, a job, or some expense offset,it is expensive.

Well, no two ICM music teachers charge the same; there is no standard. She'll have to tell you, based on duration, frequency, your starting point, etc. Plus travel and lodging expenses. No, its not cheap if you have to travel!

Bob
Re:Too Slow Jan 15, 2003 11:28 a.m.


Russ -- I replied to your last message a couple of days ago, but I don't see it posted. I may try to get in touch with Hasu, but before I do, I need to sit down and figure out how often I can honestly commit to making the 5-hour drive up to Cleveland. I'm sure she's well worth it, and if I do decice to take the plunge, I wnt to be sure that my road trip energy level is high enough to stay the course. Texas sounds like quite an adventure, but my going depends on how busy we are at work and how much change I have left after the colleges my kids go to turn me upside down and shake me.
Lars
Re:Too Slow Jan 15, 2003 07:13 p.m.


Hey Bob,
Indrajit Banerjee may be in your area this spring/summer, they were in Ohio last year if I remember correctly. He is an excellent teacher.....I'm helping him out with this stuff so if you might be interested then send me your email and I will let you know......

Lars
sitarfanatic@hotmail.com

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