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Monica

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Reply with quote  #1 
A question for all you sitar players out there:

When have you found is the best time to do Riyaz?

Do you get up extra early in the morning to complete an hour or two before the responsibilities of work/school/life/etc. take over the day?

Or do you stay up late at night to squeeze a bit of riyaz in before bedtime?

Or maybe you just never leave the house? (Eat, sleep, sitar forum, riyaz!)

Has your desire to fit enough riyaz into your day ever led you to make a career or relationship change?

Do ever find yourself thinking that the western lifestyle is simply non-riyaz supportive, and fantasize about taking an extended sabbitcal in India with your whole day being centered around alternating lessons and riyaz?

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element-82

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Monica,
killer question, very philosophical and searching...

I think riyaz is good when and wherever you get it. Weekdays, I play at night for a few hours before bed, when the baby is a sleep. Time otherwise is hard to come by. The weekends are different. I sit and play for the baby and let him smack the tabla. Then I have a more formal riyaz session with a group class sundays for 3 hours or so.

If I were single I would probably have gone to India for a visit and do the guru thing. It is just not practical for me with a family though.

Some days when I am "working from home" I may sneak some riyaz in at lunch time

Why do you as, Monica?
Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Monica"
A question for all you sitar players out there:

When have you found is the best time to do Riyaz?

Do you get up extra early in the morning to complete an hour or two before the responsibilities of work/school/life/etc. take over the day?

Or do you stay up late at night to squeeze a bit of riyaz in before bedtime?

Or maybe you just never leave the house? (Eat, sleep, sitar forum, riyaz!)

Has your desire to fit enough riyaz into your day ever led you to make a career or relationship change?

Do ever find yourself thinking that the western lifestyle is simply non-riyaz supportive, and fantasize about taking an extended sabbitcal in India with your whole day being centered around alternating lessons and riyaz?

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Surbahar Dude (formerly Sitar Dude)
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sitarman

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Posts: 599
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Monica,
Yes, good question. I usually try to get in an hour in the morning before work, and an hour in the evening, if possible. Either I am too scared or too addicted to the comforts of my western lifestyle to go to India for an extended stay for study. Scared because I hear all the getting sick stories (and being totally vegan my whole life doesn't help with choices in a foreign land) and too comfortable because my vacation time is limited and large chunks of money for travel overseas seem to only come when the time doesn't, or vice versa! Sorry about the digression, but, yes, I have fantasized about being a "student" of a great master for a while. For now, I just do short study periods whenever a teacher is within a few hundered miles.
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Monica

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "element-82"
Hi Monica,
killer question, very philosophical and searching...
element-82, You flatter me! While I was feeling rather searching, I was not feeling particularly philosophical when I wrote the post, (it felt more like I was writting a survey/quiz for the ICM equalvalent of Good housekeeping magazine.

Anyhow, as for why I asked:

I have been battling with the riyaz vs. western work schedule thing for awhile. While I am lucky in that I get to work from home, I usually still try to average a full 40 hours of work each week. Right now, I am managing to get up early enough to do a quick yoga and meditation session before work, but as I am not a morning person, riyaz still ends up being the last item of my day. And some days innevitably, following dinner and some family time, when 10 or 11pm rolls around I'm just too tired for riyaz. (sitarman, your plan of doing splitting riyaz between morning and evening could be helpful here, even if I can't get in an evening practice as often as I like, having a short morning session is better than nothing!)

So I naturally, I have found myself curious about other sitar student's schedules, and what they have found works best for them.

Also, I often find myself wondering if I need to overhaul the routine of my job into something more riyaz-tollerant. Especially as I have one of those tricky jobs that can be insanely busy for 4-5 months at a time, then quiet for a couple of months. Riyaz during the busy months can be nearly impossible. Then I find myself wondering what is more important, taking 100% advantage of my job's busy season, (knowing that a slow season is likely just around the corner), or having enough time to pursue the non-work things I love.

As for the India-sitar guru fantasy, it does at least make a pretty day-dream for those busy riyaz-less days!

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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #5 
Monica,
In my experience, including 40 years of playing guitar, I believe it is better to play 30 minutes per day on a daily basis than hours a day for a weeklor two then several days off. Playing even a little every day keeps you "in shape" so to speak, like working out. I'd also be interested inhearing others experiences in studying with "local" teachers (driving distance) for extended periods or several lessons in the course of a week or two as I have had to do.
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarman"
. (and being totally vegan my whole life doesn't help with choices in a foreign land) .
loooooool, Ahh Mr sitarman sometimes you really kill me!


BUT the land in question is India for God's sake, the bloody inventor of vegetarian philosophy!!!!

..but i guess you "being a westerner" and living the "western lifestyle" it is hardly suprising that you have overlooked this point!

Maybe you should pay more attention to Nick's trip in India posts rather than dissing them, looks like you need crash course in Indian cultural matters, otherwise all those so many years of learning sitar would have been a complete waste of time.

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Anonymous

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Reply with quote  #7 
When I got my first sitar, all I could do was think about when I could get home to play. How to get off of work (excuse after excuse) and how I could get of of school early (all my aunts and uncles died, and my mother was constantly sick); I was in my room as a teenager day and night and as often and as much as I could. My mother was furious that I did nothing else but stay in my room play that gawd awful music! I was sort of bitten by the "sitar" bug and I had gotten a fever that todate I have not been able to cure. I don't play as much today or as often, but I look back with sheer delight at those feverish days when I would spend those countless hours playing God only knows what, which was so enjoyable and well, really blisfull, no kidding.

Bharat
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sitariya

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Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #8 
Good question. I think it all depends on time you have in hand. With 2 kids and wall st job, I cannot find even 1/2 hours every day. I try to make it up on weekends. But it has been tough. But when I had time about 10 years ago, I used to practice about 1.5 hour a day and almost 5 hours over the weekend. My practice time used to depend on the raga I am practicing. e,g, if I am playing Gujri todi or Ahir Bhairav, I would practice early morning. For ragas like yaman,bihag I used to do in the evening.

Regards
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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #9 
Jaan e kharabat- I will take your criticism in a positive way. (BTW I said vegan and not vegetarian, which does put another twist on it, and my comment on it being tough while traveling is from experience, not just complaining). However, I don't rule out getting to India someday, when I can afford to do it right- that is, accomplish what I would like to do there. Yes, reading about others experiences is always a good thing when planning the experience for yourself. Nevertheless, I admit being a bit scared of such a large comittment timewise, moneywise, etc. and have opted for more local riyaz. Glad I "killed you" so often- I'll send you a bill for the entertainment!
As for someone's comment on practicing at the correct tiume of day for the raga being practiced, that is another good topic. When first starting lessons, one will be taught a raga by the teacher and should practice it as often as possible, which of course means disregarding it's "proper" time. As one gets a few ragas under the belt, it allows for more freedom of choice.
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Anonymous

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Reply with quote  #10 
hi monica,

i find that the best time for me to practice if i can only sit once durring a day is definately in the morning. if i don't think i'll be able to play in the evening, i get up early enough to do about 2, or 2.5hrs before i need to leave. i find that if i dont start practicing until later in the day, my mind wanders more and my practices are less productive. i also find in my own riyaz that i cant practice for less then an hour becuase it takes about a half hour just to get going! of course everyone is different, but i have found these approaches are the most complimentary to my mind and body.

best,

joshf
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Joanna Mack

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Reply with quote  #11 
Hi Monica- I'm trying to work this problem out too- I think we are all in the same boat!
"Do ever find yourself thinking that the western lifestyle is simply non-riyaz supportive, and fantasize about taking an extended sabbatical in India with your whole day being centered around alternating lessons and riyaz?"
Sounds romantic! At least I thought it did.
I tried working in the US for about three months a year and using that money to support myself for the rest of the year in India. I did that for more than 8 years. I can't say that it was the most effective plan. Lots of time was lost while "re-adjusting" each trip and whenever you get out of steady practice it takes time to get back to where you were.
Living in India is hard on the body, especially for foreigners- like fish out of water! Of course, Calcutta is one of the most polluted cities in the world, so maybe there are places better suited to practice. I think I spent most of my time trying to learn how to live there more than actually practicing. At one point, I was so sick that I couldn't get out of bed for three months, even to make the plane journey home. Everyone who came to visit me got sick, although they thought it was worth the experience (one friend slept the whole time he was there but when he came home, he kept saying how much he loved Calcutta and couldn't wait to go back!). I met a young tabla player there, from Minnesota, who came to spend three months doing nothing but practice. He left after three weeks, complaining that he was so tired all the time, he couldn't practice at all! I know another tabla player, from New York, that came for a couple months and had a wonderful experience, but he also admitted that he didn't practice much while he was there.
The hardships that Tony describe are not exaggerations.
It was worth it to me.
All of it.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Mainly because my Guruji, Deepak Choudhury, is a treasure-house of ICM and being surrounded by musicians all the time deeply effected my way of thinking. I could write a book about all the things I love about Calcutta.....fresh tree-ripened mangoes, the smell of the earth as the desperately yearned for Monsoon clouds approach, the sound of people practicing singing floating out of their bedroom windows as you walk through the neighborhoods.....
But in the end, I am guessing that if there is a way to afford to live in the US and continue to study, that would be the most effective way.
Just think about all the great legends that ended up settling here. There are musical reasons for that. I don't like politics and I don't have any feeling of "National Pride" but what I am finding is that the opportunities and freedom we have living in a "developed" country are amazing. Especially in the US- everything is all right in front of us and all we have to do is look!
At least I hope so!
If I can't figure out a way to keep learning and practicing while paying rent and gasoline prices here in the US, I just might end up going back...but I honestly don't think I would live very long...
and I would really hesitate before recommending someone live there for extended periods of time!
What I want to know is...Where are our courtly patrons? If only our Guru's could support and care for their students instead of needing to be cared for! Just think, its so hard for musicians to survive, we even have "Raga for sale!"
Actually, Monica, you hit on one of the main reasons why there aren't that many up-and-coming ICMusicians in modern times.
I am interested to know if anyone ever tried researching about scholarships or sponsorships?
I hope that more people respond to your topic because I would really like to know how other students are managing!

BTW-Jaan e Kharabat, I can't resist...I was vegetarian for 10 years before going to live in Calcutta! I couldn't stay healthy. Fish is the primary protein in Bengal and milk is an important part of the diet throughout the country. Only widows are vegetarians in Bengali culture and I never met a vegan there! So Sitarman would probably have a hard time of it! Culture is always illusive.

Joanna
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povster

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Reply with quote  #12 
Hello Monica,

I only recently rediscovered the music after some years. It is stronger now than it ever has been. I work full time, basic 9-5 hours. Over the past few months I have made some radical changes in my life because of the music. "Hobbies" that dominated a lot of my spare time I no longer care about, as I find the music far more fulfilling. I also find myself caring more about my health, eating better, drinking a lot less and exercising more. Strong mind in a storng body and all that. So I have made some pretty strong changes because of the music

So what does all this have to do with practice time? Actually, quite a bit, at least to me. I find myself focusing on the positive more and more. Not intentionally but simply it is what feels natural. If I can get up an hour earlier than usual (I am SO not a morning person) I will do that and practice before work. If I hit the snooze bar a few times and can only get in 30 minutes I will get in those 30 minutes. I find these morning sessions, even the brief ones, have a very lasting effect and kind of "tune" my mind for the day. The challans I practice remain in my head and they stay throught the day. When I get home I can always get in at least an hour or two, even if I have to break it out into a couple of sessions. Sometimes I can get in 4 or more hours, and that, too is fine. I also try to get in a 30 minute final practice of just a few basic challans before going to bed. I also find these brief end-of-night sessions as potent as the brief the morning ones.

I don't focus so much on trying to create a formal schedule that I have to fight to maintain. Because every time I end up losing the fight and not being able to get in the time for whatever reason, it becomes a negative experience. Instead I simply aim to practice when I can. If I feel I must make a schedule I don't make a time frame but simply say "today I can get in x-amount of practice time" and be realisitc about the amount of time I can spend. Then I get in that amount of practice time where it fits, even if it means breaking it up into 2 or more sessions that day. I set limits that will allow success. I always try to make practice time a positive experience, from the planning of it to the actual playing. And when that happens I find myself thinking "Hey! I think I can get in an extra 30 minutes this evening."

I had a bad fall a few weeks back that resulted in hurt knees and a fractured elbow (hairline - no cast.) So I took the doc's and played within the pain I could tolerate. This past Thursday my left hand was incredibly painful from apparanlty some tendon damage. Luckily the pain somwhat decreased and I started the pain management thing on my left hand. Today I got it examined by a specialist and got a cortisone ijnection. He seems confident this will work things out and again advised me to simply play what I could. So even is some adversity some good can come.

No matter what we are all genuinely blessed by being able to love, appreciate, share and participate in this music. It is such a wonderful thing.

We now return you to the non-soapbox world.

PS - that is a VERY interesting web site you have created. I have it bookmarked now.

:: edited for less hippie talk ::

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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #13 
Joanna Mack,
That was an incredibly informative and honest post. I guess that is one thing I was trying to convey, from several musicians and non-musicians I know who went over there expecting to be in a creative head space. They too, every one of them, spent more time dealing with staying healthy. I would imagine the body eventually gets used to it, so with enough time, or repeated visits, it becomes less an issue. I don't have that kind of time, or means, so I opt for the occassional guru traveling here or others who have learned from one. A digression from the original question of riyaz maybe but well worth reading your comments.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "sitarman"
Joanna Mack,
That was an incredibly informative and honest post. I guess that is one thing I was trying to convey, from several musicians and non-musicians I know who went over there expecting to be in a creative head space. They too, every one of them, spent more time dealing with staying healthy...
Agreed that was a fine post! The very brief time I was in Calcutta (Dec/Jan several years ago) I did not have any stomach type health issues. Perhaps the Sicilian genetic stew did me some good on that score. I DID contract strep throat that laid me up about a week. But the interesting thing is that the whole time I was there I was not in the mood to practice or play. I did take lessons with Gokul Nag (my teacher's teacher) but aside from a few attempts in the evening, I never touched the sitar.

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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
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Anonymous

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Joanna
....... Only widows are vegetarians in Bengali culture and I never met a vegan there! So Sitarman would probably have a hard time of it! Culture is always illusive.

Joanna
Geographically speaking, California, Arizona, and Nevada; not Kolkata, are the preferred destination points of visitor beings from the constellation Vega. Occasionally however, a rogue Vegan or two (no relation to the widows of Bengal) has been encountered by rail workers and train operators deep within the subway system of New York City.) :wink:

Mr. Bobu
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