Tips to becoming a good tabla player

Published: 14th May 2009
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So you want to play the Tabla? Good choice - the tabla is one of the most popular instruments in India, and while its major use is in Hindustani classical music, it is increasingly being used in fusion music as well. Some exponents of the tabla are Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ravindra Yavagal, Trilok Gurtu, etc. These musicians have popularized the tabla from being strictly a classical instrument into one with a much more versatile scope.

Beginning to play the tabla, as with most instruments, requires a huge amount of patience and practice. It might be difficult to get a hold of the basics - however, if you get past the initial "beginners" stage, you will find yourself enjoying tabla playing a lot more. So don't give up early on!

Here are some things we think are essential to becoming a good tabla player:

• Develop a good sense of rhythm. Since the tabla is a percussive instrument, its role in maintaining beat is huge! If you want to learn tabla. well, a steady beat is a must. Practice tapping out different kinds of beats on your tabla, with an emphasis on maintaining steadiness.

• Get a teacher. This can help - a lot. A good tabla teacher will help you develop the rigour and discipline required to play. Since the tabla is, traditionally, a classical instrument, much of the playing you will do will be to fit that context, and so discipline is important. Moreover, a teacher will be useful in giving you specific, personalized advice, which will help you in improving your playing.

• Develop a strong beat sense. As with any percussion instrument, beat sense is extremely important. Develop yours by counting or tapping out rhythms with your hands, or timing your practices of specific taals. The vilambit (very slow) style of music requires a keen sense of beat - so practice playing uniformly at very slow paces.

• Learn the basics well:

o Bols. Bols are simply the strokes you make on the tabla. A few basic bols are dha, dhin, ga, ka, tita and tirakita. Practice these and the others several times before you move on to stringing them together!

o Taals. Taals are sequences of a specific number of bols - teentaal has 16, ektaal has 12, etc. Learn the basic taals well, and practice them several times so you can perfect them.

• Practice! Yes, we are going to say this over and over! Nothing can improve your playing as much as regular, focused practice. For the tabla, perfection of stroke and beat is the key. A regular practice schedule of about an hour every day will do you wonders.

• Improvise. The tabla is an instrument with a huge scope for you to show off your skills and personality. Once you've mastered the basics, start becoming creative with the basic taals by infusing a few of your own ideas into them - provided you maintain rhythm, of course!

a. Follow these useful tips torrins india.and soon, you'll be a fluent, skilled tabla player with a distinct style of your own!

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