This is Part 1 of bansuri student Akshay Sachdeva’s article series documenting his bansuri learning journey. See all of Akshay’s articles right here.
I’m Akshay, a bansuri enthusiast and one of Dr. Kerry’s new students. I’m going to be sharing my journey of learning to play the bansuri, so you can join the fun!
To give you a bit of a background, I did some research online to find a good bansuri teacher, and found Dr. Kerry’s style to be unique, blending eastern and western styles. His videos were different from the ones I’d seen, so I decided to reach out to him.
What I liked most about him was that he makes bansuri playing fun, interesting and ‘fluid’. When I say ‘fluid’, I mean he has the innate ability to make his fingers do a dance on the bansuri holes so they produce a sound that’s soulful, upbeat and sounds sweet to your ears!
So I decided to document my bansuri learning experience as I learn from him. This is going to be so much fun! Let it begin.
Ironically, my bansuri ‘cracked’ in my travel bag, just when we were about to begin the first lesson. It couldn’t produce any sound, so Dr. Kerry shifted the focus of the lesson to the lessons learned from this experience (build a proper flute case that protects your flute and allows it to breathe), and he pointed me to some amazing sources to buy my new bansuri!
In a nutshell, if you haven’t already seen one of his videos on how to buy a flute, there are a few things you should look out for when buying a bansuri:
* Try to get one with 7 holes or ask your flute maker to make one with 7 holes. I find this to be quite different compared to other flute teachers I’ve visited, and I’m looking forward to knowing more about the wonders of the 7th hole.
* Make sure your flute is well tuned. You can check this by playing the flute in Kalyan scale and listening to ensure the notes sound correct. Kalyan is the best scale for testing if a flute is well-tuned because it does not have any partially-closed holes. If you test a flute using a scale that has partially-closed holes, you can adjust for poor tuning by changing the amount of the partially-closed hole that gets closed. With Kalyan however, the flute must be well-tuned for the notes to sound correct.
* You could use a digital tuner to determine the pitch of Sa (e.g. E, F, G) and how close to a Western standard 440Hz tuning the flute is, but don’t rely on a tuner for testing the other notes.
* Hold the bansuri to your mouth and just play it. Get a feel for it and see if you enjoy playing it. The one you enjoy playing is probably the one you should buy!
You can spend anywhere between $5 and $300 buying a bansuri. There are a few resources on buying flutes that Dr. Kerry has for Bansuri Bliss Members. He also recommends letting the flute maker know who referred you to them, so they look after you well!
Oh, and try to get a G flute (Sa = 3 holes closed = G) to start with if you are a beginner -- unless you have small hands, in which case start with an A flute.
Being a complete beginner to music theory, I found this to be very insightful. Basically, a scale is a series of notes, and notes (or ‘svaras’, as they are called in Hindustani classical music), are the names given to the sounds in music. In Hindustani music, notes such as ‘Sa’, ‘Re’, ‘Ga’ are the svaras with which you make melodies, ragas and scales.
There are thousands of scales in Indian classical music. Some of the important scales for beginners to learn include Kalyan, Bilawal and Bhoopali. When you play a scale, it sounds like a melody or tune, which is awesome. You start feeling like you’re making some music!
The interesting part about this section in the lesson was something called the “Ma Pa Bridge”. Playing Ma and Pa in sequence, and fast, requires some practice, and Dr. Kerry was kind enough to listen to me "fail at it" until I started to get better at it. I’m still practicing and it’s harder than you’d think! But eventually, you get it.
End Of Lesson
That’s about it folks. That was my first lesson. Pretty good, given that I didn’t even have a bansuri! Can’t wait for the next lesson!
This was Part 1 of bansuri student Akshay Sachdeva’s article series documenting his bansuri learning journey.
See all of Akshay’s articles right here.
Akshay is a new flutist, and loves the sound of the Bansuri. He's learning the Bansuri to create magical, soulful melodies that blend eastern and western music, and make him a versatile flute player, for the love of Lord Krishna. He finds the flute to be a very meditative, spiritually fulfilling instrument. Reach out to him and talk to him about anything!