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Posts: 152
Reply with quote  #1 
Hey guys...

...wanted to dedicate some serious time towards developing a powerful right hand stroke.

So far, I play the scale slow but strum as hard as I possibly can (BORING), I put a snug rubberband/hair-tie around my right hand, or I go through the scale playing da diri da diri da diri on each successive note as loud/hard as I possibly can with decent speed (FUN).

Do you guys have any suggestions/favorite exercises for building a machine gun for a right hand?

Posts: 10
Reply with quote  #2 

I'm no virtuoso but I found wearing a mizrab on my first and third finger (when practicing particular exercises) helped me to keep all of my fingers together and made my right hand technique stronger and clearer. The rubber band thing didn't really work for me as it tended to squash all of my fingers together and caused my hand to ache under the strain. As for speed, in my opinion, there is no substitute for practice. Ravi Shankar's 'My Music, My Life' and Ali Akbar Khan's 'The Classical Music of North India' both have chapter's dedicated to practice exercises, you can also make your own quite easily by practicing 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, triplets and 1/16 notes in various jumbled patterns. It's best to do it to a metronome and start off slow ensuring that each stroke is clear and clean, then increase your speed accordingly. Whenever you do practice you should aim to put your awareness into both hands for every exercise, however that's usually easier said than done.

I hope this has been of some help to you.


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Posts: 2,233
Reply with quote  #3 
I think the "strum as hard as I possibly can" thing is the wrong way to go about things.
The point is not to strike the string as hard as you can.
The goal should be a strong CONTROLLED stroke.
This does not mean striking the string as hard as you can, to the detriment of your general tone.

If you are putting a rubber band on your hand and are hitting it as hard as you can, I will bet you are keeping your right hand FAR too tight.
The right hand should be relaxed and fluid.
Yes, keep your fingers generally together, but not tightly squished together.
If you keep your right hand very very tight all the time you may even do some real damage to your hand.

There is no short cut to a strong right hand.
The answer is years of practice everyday.
Most important is practicing Bols.
May different kinds of Bols.
Play Paltas over and over and over again.
Practice Jhalla to help build up right hand strength.
Sitar practice like this is great for both hands.
It is this repetitive practice that gets both scales and bols engrained into your brain and hands.

But certainly remember that both hands need to be relaxed and in control of the string.
You don't have to beat the crap out of your sitar.

There are no short cuts in playing the sitar.
You devote yourself to practice and it will all eventually come to you.

Posts: 841
Reply with quote  #4 
At my age and with certain disabilities, even having an upper tumba on can be annoying ( added weight) after awhile. Sometimes I found myself cheating a bit and trying to hold up the dand and upper tumba with the left hand while playing. Therer are no shortcuts and there is no sense in developing bad habits.

I'm beginning to think that playing the sitar is like playing golf, you have to get everything right in order to make it a beautiful experiance.

I've tried the rubber band thing, and because it wasn't too tight, it worked really well for me in the first early stages. Then I just imagined my guru whacking me with a stick, if my right hand curl started to slop up!! In any case, practice is the sure answer. I may never get real fast at my age, but I surely am faster than the first week I started this sitar thing and I seem to think that I get faster and faster each week, with practice. For my fingers, I have a little silver cannister ( see Rain City Music) with a few cotton balls soaked with coconut oil. This really helps me glide over the first two strings ( a tad bit in the frets too....) Be sure not to get any on the wood and the fret ties, though. A little swipe now and then with 00 steel wool will take off any gunk that may slow your left fingers from playing faster.

I have a small hand barbell, not more than 8 Lbs., that I use to improve my muscles in my hands and arms. This seems to help quite a bit. I can't over do it, as I have carpal tunnel in both wrists.

I hope this gives you some help.

Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #5 
While there is no substitute for practicing everyday, if you're looking for a supplement to strengthen your hand/wrist, you can try this little gyroscope ball thingie -->

A friend of mine is a massage therapist and she swears by it to strengthen her hands and wrists. I know the website looks a bit cheesy/doubtful, but I played around with her NSD powerball last time I was over and it definitely seemed to be doing something for my muscles. It is also recommended for those with carpal tunnel.

Posts: 841
Reply with quote  #6 
lostandlau ~ what's the difference between the 13.00 ones and the gazillion dollar ones? :?:
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

Posts: 513
Reply with quote  #7 
A note about playing "as loud/fast as possible,"

This was my approach to building speed and strength in my right hand, and I kept it up for a good year and a half. The problem is that by doing so I was tensing up my entire hand, up through my wrist. One day I was practicing my diris and all of a sudden a sharp pulse of pain in my right (mizrab) wrist took me by surprise. Long story short it got to a point where I couldn't play more than half hour or so at a time before the pulses would come. What was happening was that my tendons were being overworked and swelling up, and hitting the nerve (i think this is caled tendonitis). It has taken me about two years to suck it up, roll the tempo back with all of my exercises, and start over with just da's and ra's, taking extra care to make sure that I am doing so with a relaxed hand. It worked and I can cook up a decent stew now, but man, what I wouldn't give to have taken my time the first time around.

Relaxed and fluid, as Cwroyds said. Just watch any of the masters- totally relaxed and fluid. So, while slow may be boring (and scary, as it shows every single flaw in our playing), embrace it and become obsessed with getting it perfect. There's no way around it! Do it for 6 months and see where you are, I guarantee you'll find yourself giving some nice, crisp diris where you previously could not.

Re: imagining your guru smacking you with a stick:
To a similar effect, I keep pictures of my teachers in my riyaaz space. This definitely helps me check in on both my form, and what I am actually doing with that precious time!

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