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Riyaaz The 9 Step Magic

‘Riyaaz’ is a term all musicians are familiar with. Afterall, only practice makes perfect! Most Gurus teach a new lesson and tell the students to do ‘Riyaaz’. But the technicalities of how to do it are seldom explained.

Vivek Sonar is not only a student of music but is also a keen academician of music. His in-depth research, learnings from books and an analytical mind, have led him to develop a methodology to this age-old practise of ‘Riyaaz’.

According to Vivek ji, ‘Riyaaz’ involves an application of both, effort and intellect. The example he gives is that of a labourer v/s a body builder. The former goes about it only physically, while the latter has a structured plan which he follows diligently. Similarly, the flautist also has to go through the rigour of practising like a machine, but along the way, one should be able to apply the lessons and create one’s own music, during the ‘Riyaaz’.

In the previous blogpost, we have touched upon ‘Alankars’. In the MyGurukul App, many ‘alankars’ have been demonstrated. As per the level of the student, he/she should go over the relevant ‘Alankars’ umpteen times, till all of them become second nature. He/she should be able to play them all with complete ease. Then comes the next step, applying one’s thought. This stage is real ‘Riyaaz’.

Most teachers tell the disciples to do ‘Riyaaz’ for 2 to 4 hours. But what and how exactly should the disciple go about it? To do ‘Riyaaz’ on the Bansuri, Vivek ji shares a 9-step, 2-hour practise module, for beginners. Firstly, a plan needs to be drawn up, which will require a level of discipline. He emphasizes that the disciple will have to follow a routine, which requires one to dedicate 2 hours every single day! Here are the.

9 steps of ‘Riyaaz’ crafted by Vivek ji, for every practitioner of the ‘Bansuri’.

First 1 hour:

  1. For starters, one should practise ‘long notes (swaras)’. In other words, ‘one breath, one note’, and aim to hold the same for 15-16 seconds, aiming to go up to 30 seconds. This process varies from person to person, and helps one enhance concentration and stamina. It also helps one to move away from distractions. To begin, go from ‘Sa’ to ‘Taar (upper) Saptak Sa’ holding each note for the prescribed time period. Do this for 10 minutes. This exercise will instil patience in the student.
  2. Practise the scale from the ‘Mandra (lower) Pancham’ to the ‘Taar (upper) Saptak Pancham’. Being the normal scale for the Bansuri, this should be easy to play. Set a boundary and play within the set boundary for 15 minutes, going through all 3 ‘layas’ (tempos) – Vilambit laya, Madhya laya and Drut laya. This exercise will ensure that the ‘swaras’ which are not part of the selected ‘raga’ will not get played.
  3. Play each of the recommended ‘Alankars’ twice. Do this for 10 minutes This will bring to you the ease of playing.
  4. The practice of Kana/Meend Swar is very important. Also known as ‘Grace notes’, they are considered the soul of Indian Classical Music. Starting with the ‘Mandra (lower) Pancham’, go to the ‘Taar (upper) Saptak Pancham’. Repeat this exercise for the next 10 minutes.
  5. There are different types of ‘Gamaks’. Practise these for15 minutes.

  6. Next 1 hour:

  7. For the next 15 minutes, choose any ‘Alankaar’ of any ‘raga’ and practise in all 3 tempos. Simultaneously, apply your thoughts, discover different ways of playing the same ‘Alankaar’, ‘Meend’ and ‘Ghamak’. .
  8. Your next 15 minutes should be dedicated to revising all the compositions from different ‘ragas’.
  9. Choose any ‘raga’ and for the next 15 minutes, try to improvise the ‘alaap’ and ‘jod’.
  10. In the chosen ‘raga’, play a composition, ‘alaap’ and ‘taan’. Keep trying to improvise the ‘raga’. Continue doing this for the next 15 minutes.

This in a nutshell is Vivek Sonar ji’s guide to effectively incorporate ‘Riyaaz’ into your daily routine. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Indian Classical Music seeking a structure, can adopt this 9-step, 2-hour practise module and master their basic playing technique, readying themselves for the next level!

…………………Let the Magic begin!

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