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Ryan Gomez
Ryan Gomez

Challenge The Tabla (Percussion) ((LINK))

And not just for percussionists, even a vocalist or any other instrument player would benefit profusely from learning to play tabla. It will add more profoundness and a completely new dimension to their learning as well as practicing experience.

Challenge the Tabla (Percussion)

We need to learn about the challenges in the learning process. It will help us to realize that we are not the only people who are facing beginner's challenges. And also, that these challenges can be dealt with.

Here is the first step of a whole new process of how to learn tabla for beginners. The very first concern in the entire process is to learn how to generate the sound. At the very initial stage, some students can create the right kind of sound while others need a fair amount of practice to get it right.

It is quite similar to the intonation of voice or any other musical instrument. At the initial stage, this might be very discouraging for the students. However, it is one of the first hurdles. And it would be extremely educative and morale-boosting to be able to overcome this challenge.

Training starts with how to use the fingers on the tabla. Initial few days, it is better if the learners just stroke the tabla to observe the kind of sound it makes. Then gradually, the teacher introduces them to the basic techniques of how to use the finger, palm, and wrist to create different sounds.

Some percussionists are not as proficient in bol recitation as they are in playing the tabla. Some students pick up one of these skills faster and struggle to acquire the other one. However, all these are a part of the learning process.

While we discuss how to play tabla for beginners, this is one area that deserves a special mention. While playing tabla, a lot of pressure comes on the wrist as it has to be kept in a certain way over the drums for a very long time. This may lead to muscle strains, fatigue, or even pain.

One of the extreme predicaments in playing tabla in the wrong way is the risk of getting fingers injured. Striking the finger in the wrong way may lead to swelling of the finger. In extreme cases, it may even lead to bleeding.

Not just the wrist and the fingers, tabla playing also involves your arms and shoulders. and back muscles. We have often seen percussionists shaking their heads up and down or sideways while playing tabla. Perhaps it is a way to release tension from their shoulder and back.

How comfortable you would be while practicing tabla and how much pain you would be able to avoid depends entirely on your posture. Minute details such as whether you sit on the floor or on a cushion also make a lot of difference in this regard.

In a very traditional setup in Indian classical music, the tabla is introduced to the students at a very young age. It is easier for them to adapt and attune their bodies to the demands of the instrument.

When we think about tabla or any other percussion instrument, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is an accompanying instrument. It would be a part of a musical ensemble or support vocal renditions. And this thought is quite intimidating in itself.

However, a very basic understanding that the learner needs to understand is that initially, tabla has to be learned as a solo instrument. It is like a vocal or any other instrument. The learner first needs to expertise it as a solo performer. Also, it takes a substantial amount of practice and proficiency to be able to perform as an accompanying percussion with vocal artists or in a concert.

The importance of tala and laya in Indian classical music can never be emphasized enough. And tabla is by far the choicest instrument for maintaining tala and laya in Indian music. Having originated in North India, the instrument is rapidly finding worldwide acceptance.

Do you want to know about the different components that go into making the tabla? It will help you to understand how each component behaves while playing the tabla and how to get the best out of them.

By the look of it, tabla looks like it is pakhawaj separated into two parts. According to modern historians, the origin of tabla dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. It was invented by the great Sufi poet Amir Khasru who wanted a more subtle and melodic percussion instrument that would support Khayal Gayan.

Tabla is a membranophone. It means that the sound that it produces comes from vibration on the stretched skin that the head of the tabla is made of. Goatskin is used to make the head of the tabla, the outer circular edge of the head that holds the skin in place, and also the straps that run on the sides from the head of the tabla to its base. Small wooden drums are between the shell of the tabla and the straps to create the optimum stretch.

The head of the tabla is further divided into three rings - each creating a different sound. It is significant for the percussionist to know that how the skin behaves depends on several factors. The room temperature and sweat from the hands of the percussionist make the skin loose. It will impact the sound of the tabla.

That is the reason percussionists are often found striking the edge of the tabla head and the small wooden drums with the help of a hammer. This is done to maintain the stretch of the skin to get the best sound out of it. Percussionists even steal out time in between the recitals to create the stretch of the skin.

This may sound repetitive. However, no matter how many times it is repeated, it is never enough. Finding a good mentor is the be-all and end-all of learning a creative or performing art. And tabla is no exception in this regard.

When small kids are introduced to tabla, their limbs are not completely developed. The same is the case with their learning and retention capacities. A good mentor understands that and guides them accordingly.

Explore the tabla classes on to connect with some of the renowned percussionists and experienced teachers. They have chosen this platform to share their knowledge and skills with thousands of students from all over the world who are taking live online one-to-one classes with them.

Hence, as a new tabla student, you might love to listen to Zakir Hussain. You might want to play tabla like him. However, do not expect to achieve it too early. This learning curve is infinite. Hence, brace yourself for that. Take small baby steps, one at a time, listen to your teacher, and keep practicing.

Learning tabla helps to understand the assimilation of music with rhythm beat and tempo. If the students learn to take the initial challenges in their stride, the way ahead would be extremely rewarding.

With the right kind of guidance, dedication, and thorough knowledge students can learn to deal with these challenges with aplomb. And the best part about music is that learning or acquiring a skill does not come easy. But once you acquire it, it becomes a part of your being. And as you learn more, you also start improvising and composing on your own. At this stage, you start creating a unique identity of your own where music is your anchor. And it is just the beginning of an eternally blissful journey.

Common Ground in collaboration with Patchogue Arts Council will present percussion from across the expanse of Asia: the Near Eastern hoop drum, Central and South Asian tabla, and from Japan the taiko drum will be presented individually and in communion along with the gamelan of Indonesia.

Krissy Bergmark is a tabla player, percussionist, and composer in the Twin Cities. Bergmark centers her work on bringing tabla to new genres and cross-genres through composition and performance. She has received commissions and grants through the Cedar Commissions, the Jerome Foundation, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the Minnesota State Arts Board for her tabla studies and compositions for tabla, percussion, and strings. She was also a participant in the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in 2018, and Silkroad Ensemble's Global Musician Workshop in 2016. She performs with her world/jazz fusion percussion group Matra, folk/newgrass trio Sprig of That, experimental global folk trio Piciformes, modern flamenco guitarist Ben Abrahamson, as a solo artist with her percussion-based solo set trio, Concentric Spaces, and has played with the Pan-handlers Steel Band since 2014. Krissy is a 2010 graduate of Northern Illinois University and a 2012 graduate of the University of Minnesota. She is an Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Gustavus Adolphus College, and teaches percussion at Lakeville South High School. She also currently serves as the Vice President for the Minnesota Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. Krissy endorses Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets. You can read more about her at

Instead of ranking them 1-10 (which seems dishonest since they are all challenging in different ways), we have grouped them by type (percussion, string, and wind) so that their difficulty may be compared with similar instruments.

Hailing from the Indian subcontinent, the tabla is considered by many to be the hardest percussion instrument in the world to master. The art of playing the tabla is so complex, subtle, and multifunctional that it even requires the player to make a range of accompanying sounds with their mouth.

The true challenge to playing the timpani lies in the need to repeatedly (and silently) tune your drum mid-song, and in the stringent precision with which you need to hit the drum with your mallet to evoke the perfect tone.

With a range of differently sized pipes attached to an inflatable pocket, the bagpipe looks more like a wineskin than an instrument. Mysterious and willful, simply controlling the beginning and end of a note is a challenge in itself. Irish Uillean pipes are bellows-blown, making them a little more straightforward to handle; however, most other kinds can only be inflated with raw lung-power.

Their fifth guest conductor of the 2022 season is Alastair Willis. A truly fascinating and entertaining man. He has a wonderful English accent, he was born in Massachusetts, he grew up in Russia, and eventually wound up in Seattle. I challenge you to find another person with that resume. 041b061a72


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