Performer | Educator | Seeker

Tips To Improve Your Bansuri Technique

The Bansuri (Indian Bamboo Reed), when handled by an expert, is truly a magical instrument that can transport the listener to another world altogether. This mastery over the instrument is the result of dedicated and disciplined development of the performer’s ability through long hours of rigorous Riyaz (practice). It is natural for a beginner Bansuri student to be overwhelmed by the dazzling display of skill and creativity involved in lightning-fast Taans, Jod, and Jhalla, which are elements of a Hindustani Classical Music performance. However, the guidance of a good teacher can dispel the mystery surrounding it and make the journey to mastery much easier. The structured, easy-to-understand, online Bansuri lessons offered by The Mystic Bamboo e-learning platform provide such valuable guidance on Bansuri for beginners.

The Technique of Tonguing

An important technique of Bansuri for beginners is that which is known as “Tonguing.” This technique involves using the tongue to strike the lips in order to momentarily block the flow of air into the Bansuri. When the tongue is released to play the next Swara (note), that Swara is emphasized, since it receives a sudden flow of blocked air. It acts as the Bansuri equivalent of a strong stroke in stringed instruments like the Sitar and Sarod. This enhancing of the Swara’s clarity and distinctiveness makes the technique of tonguing a useful ornamentation to highlight notes at high speeds and create intricate Jod and Jhalla elements during rhythmic improvisation. This online Bansuri lesson will elaborate upon tonguing and its application in Bansuri for beginners.

The Role of Riyaz

Although it may sound cliched, the importance of practice in improving the skill of Bansuri for beginners cannot be over-emphasized. It is only through continuous repetition that different variations of finger movements and breathing techniques can be ingrained into the muscle memory and integrated into the thought flow of the performer. An important consequence of regular practice is that it reinforces itself and steadily increases the ability to practice productively. The great maestros of Indian Classical music have been able to achieve their phenomenal records of up to sixteen hours of daily Riyaz by starting small and slowly building upon that firm foundation. The techniques elaborated in these online Bansuri lessons will be most useful to dedicated students, who are inspired by the maestros to pursue disciplined Riyaz without compromising on this important aspect of mastering any performing art form.

Playing Mindfully

A core principle that is reiterated in the Mystic Bamboo online Bansuri lessons is the importance of playing mindfully. This technique involves always being aware of the Swaras being played by singing them consciously in the mind, while visualizing the position of the fingers. Although it might seem trivial, it is a significant investment to integrate this humble habit into the practice of Bansuri for beginners; one that can reap rich dividends as the student progresses on their journey. Playing mindfully is the secret to staying focussed during practice, expressing creatively during performance, vitalizing each note with beauty, novelty and clarity, and enjoying the bliss of being in the moment.

Practice makes Perfect

A typical practice session of Bansuri for beginners can start with choosing a simple 4-Matra Alankar (4-beat progression) and playing it at a slow, comfortable tempo from lower Pancham to higher Pancham, thereby covering the entire scale of the Bansuri.


P. D. N. S        D. N. S R        N. S R G         S  R  G  M      R  G  M  P      G  M  P  D

M P  D  N       P D N S’         D N S’ R’        N S’ R’ G’       S’ R’ G’ M’      R’ G’ M’ P’


P’ M’ G’ R’     M’ G’ R’S’      G’ R’ S’ N       R’ S’ N D      S’ N D P         N D P M

D P M G        P M G R         M G R S         G R S N.       R S N. D.        S N. D. P.

Care should be taken to ensure that each note is played clearly and mindfully, at the correct Sur (pitch), and held for the chosen duration based on the Laya (tempo). This is to be repeated until the Alankar becomes crystal-clear, at which point, the student may proceed to the next step as indicated in this online Bansuri lesson.

Turning up the Tempo

When the Alankar can be played comfortably, without referring to notations or making a mistake, the Alankar may be tried in double-speed. If playing in double-speed seems too fast to play clearly, the tempo may be decreased a little, as it would be counterproductive to pursue speed at the cost of clarity and correctness of Sur. When ready, the speed can be doubled once again or the tempo gradually increased in order to steadily get there. The student must remain patient and resist the urge to jump ahead without reinforcing one’s current ability, because playing fast is only pleasing when graced with delicate and beautiful Swaras. Once again, it helps greatly to be mindful of what is being played. If one finds oneself distracted frequently, it might be better to take a short break rather than to foster a habit of playing while the mind is elsewhere.

Time for Tonguing

When the student has mastered the Alankar in its basic form, it is time to progress to the next stage of Bansuri for beginners, which adds the technique of tonguing to decorate the Alankar and give it more character.  The student should use tonguing to emphasize the first note of each phrase.

The Aaroha & Avaroha can be treated as:

P. D. N. S     D. N. S R      N. S  R  G        S R  G  M        R  G  M  P       G  M  P  D

M P D N      P  D  N S’      N  S’ R’       N S’ R’ G’        S’ R’ G’ M’       R’ G’ M’ P’

P’ M’ G’ R’     M’ G’ R’S’      G’ R’ S’ N       R’ S’ N D      S’ N D P         N D P M

D P M G         P M G R        M G  R  S       G R S N.       R S N. D.       S N. D. P.

The change that is introduced lends a certain groove to the Alankar and separates it into distinct, recognizable parts. There is an added element of keeping count in order to emphasize the correct notes, which might seem difficult for beginners. However, if the principle of playing mindfully has been nurtured and a slow tempo has been chosen to start off with, it gets easier once the student has grasped the flow of the rhythm. This understanding of rhythm opens up the path to improvisation, allowing the student to start composing Taans (rapid melodic phrases) of 8-Matras, using combinations of 4-Matra phrases, accented by tonguing. Improvisation in this manner is further elaborated in the Mystic Bamboo online Bansuri lessons.

Tonguing on Alternate Phrases

The next step in the practise of Bansuri for beginners is to use the tonguing technique to emphasize the first note of every alternate phrase of the Alankar, which adds a different dimension to the rhythm.

The Aaroha and Avaroha can be treated as:

P. D. N. S      D. N. S  R       N. S  R  G           S  R  G  M        R  G  M  P      G  M  P  D

M P D N       P  D  N  S’      D  N  S’  R’         N  S’  R’ G’       S’ R’ G’ M’      R’ G’ M’ P’

P’ M’ G’ R’     M’ G’ R’ S’      G’ R’ S’ N       R’ S’ N D      S’ N  D  P       N  D  P M

D  P  M  G     P  M  G  R       M  G  R  S      G R  S N.     R  S N. D.       S N. D. P.

Keeping a count of 8-Matras in the mind sets the base for improvising in the Jod and Jhalla sections, which are complex rhythmic improvisations without any Taal (rhythm) support from tablas, drums or metronomes. This emphasis on alternate phrases creates a distinct groove, resembling down and up strokes of a stringed instrument. As mentioned in other parts of this online Bansuri lesson, this Alankar becomes easier to play when done mindfully.

Facing Challenges

The journey of Bansuri for beginners can be frustrating at times and requires fortitude, commitment, patience, and enthusiasm. If you find yourself not up to a particular challenge, take a break and try to attempt it again later; listen to your favourite Bansuri maestro to get inspired or simply unwind; or best of all, sign up for the Mystic Bamboo online Bansuri lessons to get the support and guidance of a group of gifted Gurus and to become a part of a global community of like-minded Bansuri enthusiasts.

This online Bansuri lesson has shown how the introduction of a simple tonguing technique can add a distinct character to the melody and highlight the rise and fall of the rhythm. It has also emphasized the importance of playing mindfully and has suggested how to lay the foundation for disciplined practice sessions in order to fully enjoy the journey of Bansuri for beginners.

Wishing you many happy, mindful, and productive practice sessions!

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