INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: Self Teaching - Realistic?


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Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 29, 2002 11:23 p.m.

I know to really become a tabla player, a teacher is a must. From my reading thus far, theres so many intracasies and subtleties in the art that its pretty much impossible to learn to be a good tabla player without a teacher.

Now, that said, do you guys think its realistic to be able to learn basic bols and rhythms from David's books and/or other books and videos?

I ask because I'm really having a terrible time trying to find a teacher in my area, and this is after a year of trying. I dont want to play classical Indian music right now, or even proper Indian music for that matter. I pretty much just want to get with my buddy who plays guitar and have a little fun.

Could I realistically meet my objective through books?

Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 30, 2002 11:10 a.m.

Almost impossible--- for example, a teacher will know when u played a composition a fraction faster than u should have. You will be thinking that u are playing fine and go on like that for years without realising your mistakes.....but he will know best, believe me!
If u get good books and good videos I guess u can play something. But if u really want to become a true tabla player you will have to find a teacher sometime or another(and not just any teacher). You must listen to a lot of tabla music. Simple bols like TeTe will cause u a lot of frustration if u don't eventually find a teacher. Doesn't mean u will never play them well just because u don't have a teacher(i don't believe it to be impossible) but the frustration will be less intense and instead of taking u perhaps 20 years to become a good tabla player u might (with a teacher) take only ten years(..and that is a very short time in tabla terms). ..god luck in anyway u go about doing it!
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 30, 2002 12:34 p.m.

I believe it's possible. You have to gather a lot of information from different books, videos, CDs and do a lot of thinking and be very analytical about what you're doing.

I have played a year and a half and I don't have any teacher (no teachers in Finland). Teacher helps of course. At the moment I am able to play relas 8 note per beat/matra for 120 or little bit over that. Fixed compositions maximum is 140 after that it don't work. I play my own variations. I have practiced variations from books aloud, but at the moment I have found my own style of developing themes. I am able to play different tals. I have also developed a way of improvising tukras, chakradars and gats. I have worked hard to understand waht different players are doing and I am not a radical tabla player. Quite the opposite. I use kaida as my improviational tool. My fixed compositions and different phrases sound the way they should. I just feel, that it doesn't seem right for me to play from note to note, what others have played. Term gharana is also much looser nowadays, so everyone is playing and mixing different styles.

I have played percussions in general for about 10 years now. I have learned congas, bongos, timbales and other percussion instruments and their traditions also by myself. It's up to you in my opinion.

Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 31, 2002 12:01 a.m.

Thats cool Jake, I've been playing the drum set for about 9 years now. Might I ask what books and videos you've been using?

Thanks for your response too Rod, I certainly understand what you're saying. I plan to continue the search for a teacher, and probably go ahead and start with some videos and books and stuff. Like I said, I dont really aim to be a great tabla player at this point in time. Just good enough to jam a bit.

Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 31, 2002 04:37 a.m.

for someone who has been into drums and music for such a long time it can be completely different story altogether. It will be much easier for you to understand tabla wether u have a tacher or not.
People may be mixing different styles but, I believe that the styles are still very distinctive when u really get to know them. It comes to your own choice how do u play as an individual. I personally would stick to one style and teacher untill u have very good practical and theorectical knowledge of tabla. Then everything would become a lot more clear so not to get too confused. To play fast relas or kaidas is not a major problem. the problem is to play them beautifuly and on precise time. Also, stick to one taal (tintal) untill u are really good at it.Then any other tall will just fall into place with the minimum effort. But the major challenge is to improvise on the fly(that's after long years of practise)! when u start doing that(mostly as an acompanist) u will need a guru/master to guide u on . It is the most difficult part probably but perhaps the most rewarding I guess!
With a teacher or not, go for it but I would rather have one than not having! ....and believe me, there will come a time when you will whant to become a trully good/great player! It is just to addictive and tempting to avoid it!
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Jul 31, 2002 03:32 p.m.

I'm very glad to hear that my past experience would help me out here Rod, I thought maybe it would but I wasnt sure. I'm sure you're right about the adictive properties of playing, its adictive just listening! Its such an expressive instrument, it never fails to impress me with how many sounds and colors can be made on the tabla. I'm going to start asking around at some Indian resturants and things to see if I can locate a teacher as well, and in the meantime I think I'm going to see if I cant get started with some bols and basic rhytms (is tala the word?)
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 02, 2002 12:53 a.m.

With teacher is much easier to learn the technical aspect of playing right from the start. Try to find teacher. David Courtney's books Fundamentals of tabla covers thoroughly basic information about tabla. There are a couple of kaidas and lots of thekas and their variations in numerous tals. Alla Rakha's video/book is also good. In Aloke Dutta's books there are plenty of different kaidas and relas in different tals with variations. Dutta's Poetic drumming is about 250 pages and it's a superior book. It has a LOT of material.
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 02, 2002 03:08 a.m.

Hi Jake,

Where can I find Aloke Dutta's book? I have been looking at Amazon and Khazana but with no luck. Where should I look?


Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 02, 2002 06:09 a.m.

hey Jake,

I found this web site and saw the books there and they sound very promising. I will be buying the one you mentioned above pretty soon.
for Sadala, have a look at this web site and by reading the reviews about the books and videos, they seem to be exactly what you need to start your learning.

Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 02, 2002 09:27 a.m.

Jake put an ad in your weekly paper and at Indian restaraunts and stores. You might be surprised to find there is someone in your area that can help you get the basics. Any tabla teaching videos are worth 10 books for a begginer because tabla is as much about learning what not to do as what to do especially coming from a drummer background.
If your in US you can take a week and go to either NY or CA, Houston or Austin TX and get lessons.
Check the Ali Akbar Khan , Sameer Chatterjee websites or the Austin tabla website , there is a lot of good training material here on David's site and on the Austin site . Start printing yourself a personal notebook out of internet material
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 03, 2002 06:34 p.m.

Wow Varuna, thats a really really great idea. I actually have quite a substantial Indian community in my city, so places to place such an ad are abound. I think I'll do this, thanks for the idea!

As for traveling, I would do just that if my time and finances permitted. Maybe one day they will, and I'll do that.

thanks again for the ideas!

Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 05, 2002 04:46 p.m.

Let us know if you find someone and about them
Good Luck
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Aug 12, 2002 11:30 p.m.

I just found a video on the web called Tabla Tutor by Ashwin Batish. In his first video he talks about various parts of the tabla, tuning, etc. But in the second he goes over production of Bols. Do you guys think this would be easier to learn from than a book? I would think so, but I'd like to have some educated opinions before I spend the cash. They arent exactly cheap videos.
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Sep 13, 2002 02:31 a.m.

to me it's realistic. basic things should be okay first (good technique, good sound, basic bols, time and cycles) and then sing. In my humble opinion the art of playing any percussion is beauty in melody, rhythmic and good sound means "harmony" and accuracy in sub division and the last is improvisation dynamic, speed and go. I sing my ethnics sound of west java music by tabla that makes me happy day by day. I love Bikram ghosh and Gaurishankar those who sing all the time. thanks a lot.
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Sep 13, 2002 08:46 a.m.

Hi Iwang, are you Indonesian? Dari Sunda?Can you explain what you mean with:"I sing my ethnics sounds of West Java music by tabla..."
Re:Self Teaching - Realistic? Sep 14, 2002 05:55 a.m.

Hi. yes I am sundanese. When playing tabla I always sing my ethnic sunda song which mostly in cycle of 8 but you can multiply it with any number. Because we feel that gong will be hit on first note so i can play any cycle as improvisation (combination of 2 and 3 cycle) create a "story?" and this is the art of dancing in my humble opinion. The richness of indian traditional music is in this improvisation and it is written as "traditional" means you might follow precisely to your guru. My favorite sunda tunes mostly come from "happy, passion, joyfull" ambient. No risk No fun ??
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