INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: questions from a novice...


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questions from a novice... Apr 19, 2001 07:47 p.m.


I am looking to start learning the tabla. So would appreciate any help from folks on do's and dont's...
a. best way to learn ?
b. is a knowledge of classical music essential ?
c. does one need any background in music to learn ?
d. how much does a tabla instrument cost to buy and rent approximately in the US.
e. any pointers to good instructors in Northern California will be appreciated.


Re:questions from a novice... Apr 20, 2001 05:30 p.m.

hey there,
I myself am starting out, so i do think that anyone has a shot at learning tabla if you are inspired by it and driven to learn it. however, it is extremely complex so you would require some help, books are not enough. look around your town or city at music stores, call around and see if anyone either sells tablas- since there may be someone around who might play as well. so call around, look at a music consevatory, piano players often take up tabla. you may find tabla players hidden in many places. i know, that in my city, I only knew one person and from there, I tried calling around and found out that there are more people out there interested than there seems. anyhow, if you are serious about buying a set of tabla, quality is very important and i would suggest to look at Ali Akbar's home page since he sells tablas there of great careful in choosing where you buy. your price range will vary, but quality for beginners will range in the 250-300 zone and up of course. I hope this has been a bit useful- it is not necessary to think that you need prior knowledge of any musical instrument to take up another, i myself have no such background. Tabla speaks to many people through different mediums, dont be intimidated. Oh, yeah, one thing that may help- I was told that "Learning Tabla with Alla Rakha" is excellent (he was the greatest tabla player). it is a book and video to accompany it so you can get the key bols (strokes) of the tabla. so if all else fails or you are interested in this, check it up on, it is there. Good luck, and I hope i was able to be somewhat helpful to you.
Let me know how all goes.
Gabe Halberg
Re:questions from a novice... Apr 20, 2001 11:56 p.m.

Hi there,

If you live in Northern California you may be in luck. The Ali Akbar College of Music is in San Rafael (Marin County) where Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri teaches tabla. He was my first teacher. Their website is You can also purchase tabla from the Ali Akbar College store. Another excellent source for tablas is from Pandit Samir Chatterjee's organization Chhandayan in NYC (they ship to anywhere in the country). That website is

You do not need any prior experience or knowledge to study the tabla. You can't really be expected to know anything about it prior to initial studies with a teacher. Although there are a lot books and material out now to help a person get started (and these can be a great inspiration initially) there is ultimately no substitution for an actual teacher.

Good luck!

Gabe Halberg
Burlington, Vermont

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