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.
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 facebook.com/rishiichowdhury, twitter.com/TablaRishii, youtube.com/user/04mrrishi and Rishi Arts on facebook.