If you are an online student and learning bansuri techniques from online flute classes, one of the pitfalls you will potentially encounter is the right way to practice. Right from catching yourself from sitting in a wrong position to knowing how to make the most of the limited time you have, you will need a few tips on bansuri techniques. That is exactly what we are aiming to provide here. Follow the below 8 techniques to see improvements faster and be most productive during your practice sessions.
Follow the Pareto Principle
We are taught in school that 20% of tasks cover 80% of overall work. The trick is to identify that 20% and spend most of your time focused on that. This principle can be easily adapted for bansuri practice. Depending on what stage of learning you are at, identify the basics that are repeatedly used in most of the renditions and practice them over and over. For example, if you are a beginner, focusing most of your time on alankars at various speeds is going to be key to get dexterity of fingers and smooth transitions.
Practice Long Notes
We at The Mystic Bamboo Academy have Baithaks regularly where we bring in artists with great experience and there is one thing we hear consistently from everyone — ‘Practice long notes’. The clarity of each note differentiates a master bansuri player from a novice student. No matter how far along you are in your musical journey, when you sit down to practice, always spend at least 30 mins just practicing basic long notes. Apart from bringing clarity, long note practice improves lung capacity which is vital to sustain long performances.
Catch Mistakes Early
A common problem all students encounter when practicing for long hours is unintentionally picking up bad habits. This can be wrong positioning of fingers, slouching while playing notes, sitting in the wrong position, wrong bend of the neck, etc. Mistakes like these, when practiced over and over, become habits. Once identified, these need to be unlearned and learnt correctly again wasting time and often demotivating the students. This is the reason our guruji Shri Himanshu Nanda insists that we practice in front of a mirror so we can see our mistakes before they become habits.
Practice out of Memory
Another easy trap most students fall in is to play compositions looking at the notes. The hindustani music tradition allows for personal interpretations of ragas and for that we should train our mind to be able to compose freely. Getting used to looking at music sheets and practicing restricts the mind to flex the creative aspect of bansuri music. The best bansuri technique to learn a composition according to Himanshuji is to sing the notes out aloud until the composition is memorized and then start playing it on the bansuri. Even when playing on bansuri, sing the notes in the mind so you can sharpen your ability to identify notes. Do not worry about sounding like a great singer. When we choose to learn bansuri, we are instrumental musicians and not vocal artists. However, our grasp on understanding of the basics and ability to identify pitch and notes has to be as good as a vocalist.
Fight the Negative Thoughts
It is not easy to learn music and definitely not easy to learn an instrument like bansuri. Patience is going to be your best friend through this journey. No matter what the mode of learning, every student goes through phases where they get stuck. It will feel like there is no way out and that leads to negative thoughts that range from losing interest to feeling like a failure. The key is to always know that right practice fixes everything. If you have some experience in learning bansuri, you will be able to relate to the frustration of not being able to produce the first sounds when you picked up the instrument. Whenever you develop such negative thoughts, it is always advisable to talk to your Guru and take advice. However, practice does make every single one of us achieve the seemingly impossible goal of playing the swaras on bansuri.
Focus on Strengths
All of us have our strong areas and weak areas. While we have to spend a considerable amount of time improving our weak areas, it is also important to celebrate our strengths. During your practice time, do spend some time with something that you enjoy playing. Usually, this will be aligned to your strength and keep you motivated in spending time to improve your weak areas. This is especially important when you are learning through online flute lessons.
Break Down the Problem
One common problem students face when learning a composition is not being able to play the entire piece correctly. Irrespective of whether you are an intermediate student in our online bansuri classes or a beginner learning your first alankaras, break the piece into sets of 4 or 8 notes and keep practicing it until you build muscle memory. Move to the next piece only after mastering the previous one. This way, in no time, you will be able to easily play the composition out of your memory.
The last advice we will leave you with is to be consistent. Pick a time of the day and religiously practice. A lot of dedication and practice is 90% of the learning process. Routine helps in keeping the interest going and allows you to follow a structured plan. Practicing bansuri is just like working out. If you don’t have a plan and consistently follow up, the results will not be as dramatic as they can be. Everyone can learn bansuri provided they put in the time to practice regularly.
If this article has inspired you and you are considering learning bansuri, we welcome you to check out our online flute lessons and take the first free class to see if this is something you want to do. Also look at the FAQ section to see frequently asked questions and answers to these from our guruji Shri Himanshu Nandaji. Happy learning.
Student of The Mystic Bamboo Academy