Friday, 21 September 2012

Rishii puts "Yo-Tabla" into practice.

Most of us would agree that every teacher should practise what they preach. This becomes vital when they have an inquisitive niece like Nishka as a student. Rishii is embarking on a tabla tour, the UK leg of it starts this weekend in Leicester and Wolverhampton. After the UK dates in September and October Rishii will be going onto India. I caught up with Rishii during the week and we chatted about tour preparations and how yoga has been a godsend.
 Performances involve mental and physical preparation and Rishi explained how yoga has helped him to focus his mind and body. It is not just the performances, but the individual practise  preparations and rehearsals. On stage it may look effortless but often quite a show goes on behind the scenes.
Madonna has always been known for her punishing fitness regimes during tour preparations. Yoga is a very strong focus in Madonna's regime, once again marrying the disciplines of music and yoga.
This Saturday Rishii will be giving a Tabla demonstration at Beauchamp College, Oadby Leicester and talking about the health benefits of Music. Nishka and I are excited about attending this event and the next post will give full coverage . I have uploaded footage of one of Rishii's performances in San Francisco last year in front of the legendary tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Husseinji. Please refer to the previous posts for links to Rishii's work and forthcoming tour dates.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Yo-Tabla- a Holistic Approach to Music and Life.


It is an absolute pleasure to be contributing to my sister’s blog. It is a great way for a writer and musician to collaborate on ideas that we share and are passionate about. I have been playing tabla since childhood and have had the opportunity and fortune to have learned from the very best in the industry.

Teaching is a strong passion of mine and I think it comes from being surrounded by educators on a daily basis such as Mum! As well as being a student of music, I am also a student of ‘Ashtanga Yoga’(Pathanjali). These two disciplines really complement each other as it provides one with a more flexible approach to life. It was one of those rare divine interventions that the concept of ‘Yo-Tabla’ came to me last year. As Indian musicians, we sit for long periods of time absorbing a vast amount of information whether in our own practice or performance. From personal experience, I have found that by incorporating basic breathing techniques and stretches, the body and mind become fully prepared. You have the clarity of thought and sharpness to handle any challenge that comes your way. This holistic approach has provided me with positive results, not just in my music career but in other facets of my life as well. This has also been the case for the students I have had the pleasure of teaching.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching kids and it is an incredible learning journey to go on. I was a tutor at an Indian Music Summer School that took place in Leicester in August. I was teaching young children how to play the tabla. The transformation was amazing. Not only were they playing, but the children had a strong level of focus and determination. It is seeing these types of results that inspire me to keep on teaching.

Some tips

When teaching children, I have found that keeping sessions short, varied and fun really helps. I have a five year old student and when I sense that his energy levels are a bit low, I like to allow him around 8 seconds(counting slowly), to just jump, run, make noise or whatever he fancies doing in that time. After eight seconds he must come back immediately to play tabla. The benefits are that he gets an energy release, but then he also learns discipline knowing that he must to come back and play again.  It is quite unconventional, but it works.

Playing tabla or playing any other instrument can be quite demanding, so levels of concentration need to be at their optimum. However, there are some yoga stretches that you can turn into games. For example, seeing who can stand in the tree position the longest, staring at an object, standing on one leg and so on.

When you are teaching kids that are so young, it is important that the parents know the benefits of what their child is learning because they can do these fun exercises at home together. However, when communicating to the child in class, it is important they feel reassured and not overwhelmed with information. Just by reciting and clapping a very simple rhythmic pattern, becomes a mantra in itself. If the learning process comes across as fun and interactive, students will react to this and will respond. The educational part will be the by product.

Teaching my niece Nishka is an absolute pleasure. Since birth, Nishka has been surrounded by music in our house and it is wonderful to see her embracing tabla. We have a lot of fun together and I am excited to see her develop over the next few years.

It has been great sharing my experiences of Yo- Tabla with you all. I am thoroughly enjoying my path and grateful to have a wonderful support network around me. I hold regular classes in Leicester, do contact if you want to find out more. Also, feel free to follow my music journey by visiting,, and Rishi Arts on facebook. 


God Bless





Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Music- The Breath of Life

As Nishka is getting older and more energetic I have found the perfect way to keep her occupied, something I would recommend to all parents. Nishka has taken up music and has started learning to play Tabla (Indian drums). This however is no ordinary music lesson, it is in in the style of "yotabla" which a fusion of tabla and yoga. This unique style has been created by Rishi Chowdhury a renowned performer and teacher of tabla, who also happens to be my brother and Nishka's uncle. This post is really an introduction to the next post where Rishi will be making a guest appearance and explaining more about "yotabla" and how it benefits young children. From a parental point of view I can say it is a brilliant concept that marries two holistic disciplines together.
Tabla or yoga alone provide many emotional and spiritual benefits, why not bring the two together. For children especially there is the coordination and concentration aspect of tabla and the calming and physical benefits of yoga. As I said in the last post Nishka has now started school and I feel this is the perfect time to introduce these disciplines.
In my own experience I have found that it can be difficult to get children to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time. This can often hinder the benefits of music lessons. Break the lessons down with yoga and I am sure Rishi will tell you the benefits he has observed with his own students. My own initial observations of Nishka are she seems calmer and sleeps better at night.
Having a calm and happy child has a positive knock on effect for parents too. If there are any parents out there looking to calm down their hyperactive kids who refuse to sit still, keep a look out for the next blog post, where Rishi will be appearing as a guest blogger to go deeper into "yotabla".

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A New Journey

My little one is not such a little one anymore, Nishka has now started school. The run up has been occupied with uniform shopping and home visits, while still juggling other commitments, writing especially. As the big day dawned closer certain emotions got conjured up in me, resulting in  the following poem of the same title as the post:

A New Journey

It is hard for me to perceive
A child I once could not conceive,
Is now all grown
and stepping into the world alone.

I had my fears
over the last few years
trials and tribulations out of the blue,
but we got through.

Of what she had to endure
has made her mature,
This journey is an easy ride
In comparison to the high tide.

She has already done me proud
and stood out from the crowd.
Made of stern stuff
when times have been tough.

A trait I never had
of this strength in her I am glad.
For this journey she is ready
but life is not steady.

She keeps me strong
when things go wrong.
But the world is a cruel place
How will she run the race.

She is human after all
And we all take a fall.
But each and every endeavour
we will face together.