You don’t need anything for a bansuri lesson other than a good internet connection and an open mind. That being said, here are some ways to be super prepared…
If possible, you should have:
- Read my Bansuri Buyer’s Guide for info on how to find a quality bansuri.
- The mic inside your computer may or may not be decent quality. Save up and buy an external mic (a USB mic is ideal).
- A real one and someone to play it would be great, but chances are you will just have a digital tanpura such as iTabla Pro.
- Portable Speaker
- When you play your digital tanpura, it will probably sound shrill if it plays through your phone or tablet speaker. Much more pleasing to the ear is a small portable speaker, which can be wired or bluetooth.
- Using headphones helps you hear the instructor and other students better, and reduces the potential for echoes and feedback.
- High Speed Internet
- Note that cellular, data, wifi and hotspots can vary in speeds.
- An upload speed of 5 Mbps or more is ideal.
- Set up with a full view of your hands on the flute
- Zoom Configuration:
- Original Sound On
- Paper, Pen & Notebook
- Water, chai or a non-carbonated beverage of your choice
A Quality Bansuri:
Read through the Bansuri Buyer’s Guide to learn how to best choose and purchase your next bansuri.
A Decent Microphone:
Put some thought into your microphone system, which hopefully is better than your internal computer or phone mic (as those tend to be low quality).
I use the Apogee MiC-96K…the more modern version of it is the Apogee MiC Plus. It plugs in to iPhone, iPad or laptop/desktop.
A less expensive option is to buy headphones that have an in-built microphone, discussed below.
Headphones serve three purposes:
(1) Ensure that the sound entering your ears is of higher quality than that which comes out of the very small and poorly made speaker system in-built in your phone, tablet or computer;
(2) Prevent echo from disturbing other listeners, as without headphones, our sound will go out your computer speakers and then back in through your microphone; and
(3) Many headphones contain an in-built mic, and it often sounds better than the mic in your phone, tablet or computer. It is also much closer to your mouth than your computer’s mic, which is a good thing, as mics work best between 3 to 4 inches from your mouth.
The Urbanears Sumpan are good low-cost headphones that have an acceptable mic built in.
Be prepared with a tanpura tuned to your Sa (which requires knowledge of what pitch your Sa is). Ideally, it is coming out of a speaker such as a Sony SRS XB-13, which will produce far more pleasing sound than the tiny speaker built into your phone. Watch my iTabla Pro tutorial to learn how to use digital tanpuras.
A Quiet Room
A quiet room with no people or pets moving around your video screen
Respect For Other Students And The Instructor:
Keep yourself muted when you are not speaking/playing so nobody has to hear your background sounds.
Be still…or turn off your video camera if you are making significant amounts of motion.
Be on time, especially if it is a private lesson.
Indian classical music is not easy. You will experience frustration at some point. Don’t fret. Just do your best to understand and remain open-minded.
Questions are good. Don’t assume everyone grasps everything but you. Everyone has questions, doubts and knowledge gaps. So ask your question when given the opportunity.
Play when given the chance. You can watch a thousand free hours of YouTube but YouTube won’t ever give you the chance to play and get feedback. The most rapid learning is when you play and your guru/instructor provides direct feedback. So when given the chance, play. No need to be shy. You aren’t expected to sound perfect.
Optimized Camera Angle:
Ideally, we should be able to see your entire flute when you play — not just your face and shoulders. You may need to rotate the camera or your body to bring your entire flute into view.
Proper Zoom Audio Configurations:
This is so important I made a post all about it, be sure to read through it, so that when you play, your Original Sound is ON (Enabled). Otherwise, it is almost certain that Zoom will garble your bansuri sound.
Notebook & Pen or Pencil
Pen (or pencil) and paper to write notes. Yes, actual pen and paper like they used in olden times! A notebook dedicated to music is best. Write the date of the lesson atop each page.
Remember 4th grade? What did you always take to class? A notebook! One dedicated to that class, with the name of that class written on the front. At each class, you would be ready with a pen or pencil and you would write notes in that notebook any time something important was stated. If you didn’t write notes, you’d either have to bug your friends to get a copy of theirs or you would not remember what took place in class.
So please get a spiral-bound notebook dedicated to your Bansuri Bliss lessons (use a different notebook than you use for your other music lessons). At the start of each class, write the date at the top. Write the name of the raga being taught at the top of the page. I like to underline the name of the raga so it is really visible. Every time I teach a line of music, write it down (or take a screenshot and store the screenshots in the folder on your computer dedicated to that raga).
Use your cleanest writing, and do your best to ensure the music is written correctly (e.g. sum and khali are shown; semi-circles are used as needed; komal signs and high octave dots are shown as needed, etc…). Of course, sometimes you have to write in a hurry, so just do the best you can, but remember that if you don’t write it down, you may never see it again, and there’s a high chance it will be gone forever. Whereas if you write it, you’ll have it and be able to benefit from it for potentially decades.
Have a three ring binder filled with loose leaf paper. Use this notebook to hold the final version of your notes. What’s the final version? It’s the cleanly and correctly written version of what you learned, in its archival form. The archival version is the one you would be happy looking at decades from now because it is so clear, correct and visually pleasing. In this notebook, order all your notes alphabetically by raga name.
Website visitors on indianflutemusic.com (the predecessor of this site) on November 18th, 2011.
Privacy Considerations At Group Lessons
If you are concerned about your privacy, read this post about privacy and group lessons.
Now That You Are Ready For Your Bansuri Lesson
Learn about Bansuri Bliss Office Hours, private bansuri lessons and Bansuri Bliss Memberships.
Dr. Kerry Kriger plays a sunset melody at Kuanidup, San Blas Islands, Panama, 2008