Midterm Review by Baljinder S Bassi
Prior to attending this camp, I used to always dream of how it would be. I always used to wonder how it would be to learn in a very professional environment where the teacher is a grand maestro of his tradition. I also wondered how my peers would help me succeed. But the aspect that intrigued me the most was the “Guru Shiya Parampra”. I only could dream of staying with an ustaad and romanticize the way we will be learning but never had the pleasure to really experience it.
In my head I always thought we would only really be learning for a couple of hours and the rest of the day would be spent in seva or house hold chores. And to my surprise I was proven wrong. We spent most of the first day in the classroom practicing or self teaching or doing “rugra” of certain bols. This was really interesting to learn because it was really frustrating when you really can’t blame anyone but yourself for not learning bols properly. But I slowly managed and taught myself constantly check my own hand and posture for mistakes.
My fellow students have helped me a lot. I would never be able to even try to attempt to tune a tabla or to break up bols and do rugra of them one by one. They also tell me my mistakes in pronunciation and rendering when I’m not aware of my hand. Another thing I noticed was when we do akaar in the morning my peers are constantly trying to challenge me and try new things and find a handicap and then practice it. I think learning alongside serious students is nothing less then a blessing and has given me a moral boost to really reach out and do my best. Before coming to this camp I had always thought I could give any singer a good challenge but after the first couple days I learned that every thing that has been taught to me has really only been lollipop repertoire.
The things I learned by myself were subjects such as the separations of bols in a given composition. I had never thought about the poetry in composition. I discovered this in the Roopal Keida that we learned. The pattern suddenly jumped out at me and I observed that the “chands” are just simple math problems and are broken into small numbers of bols in one line. Another small enlightenment I had was about the referring to the palta concept. We learned that the paltay were necessary because otherwise compositions start getting repetitive. I also learned that the rules for a keida state that no other bols that are outside the composition itself are allowed to be played.
When reflecting back to the six days we have played together, I learned that I have become a much better player all around because I know of the “price” of the bol and how hard I had to work to render it out. Some of the things I noticed I need to watch out for are the laya, clarity and nikas of certain bols. I noticed I have become a more active listener and slowly have learned to keep a constant eye on my posture and my ear out for clarity of the bols. But the most important lesson I learned in this camp was how excellence can have no room for error, and only excellence is allowed in the guru’s court.