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drummerkjg

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi,

I heard of an Indian tradition where you set aside a week, and pretty much only practice - like waking up at 8am and starting right away, maybe taking a quick break for food or going to the bathroom here and there, but mostly just practicing until midnight. Maybe even working on just one thing the whole time.

What is the name for this? I'd like to look up more about it but I don't even know the proper name for it. I'm a western musician and curious how this might apply to me. A week seems like the perfect length of time for that amount of practice intensity.

I'm interested in the way musicians who do this organize that amount of time, and what they practice for that long, what their goals are, and the ways it is different from practicing the same amount of total time but spread out over a longer period. Also, I'd like to know what kind of preparation people do, if any- whether it's taking time to think about what you will work on all week, or mentally getting ready....or maybe anyone studying Indian music already has enough discipline and focus and energy where only practicing for a week isn't too difficult to begin with.

I'm going to try doing this, which will hopefully answer some questions, but since I'm not studying Indian music specifically I will never really know what it feels like from that perspective.

I would love to hear anything that anyone has to share about this, and any advice that anyone has.

Thank you!

Kate
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RichardH

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Reply with quote  #2 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilla_katna

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilla-nashini
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #3 
I would be careful with such plans. A week of practise is very demanding, physically and mentally. It doesn't really matter what the goals of other musicians are, you have to set your own and have a plan how to reach it. and I think you also need to get into and out of this week properly. Perhaps you should sit down now, organise the exercises that you know by purpose and assign them to a 16-hours schedule. Arrange some simple food and drinks, go to bed early, take off tomorrow and see how you get over 16 hours of practise. If this frightens you, do the preparation with your teacher and select one day next week.

But before you do anything, consider that for example a casual runner won't be able to do a marathon right away. This is true for both, yourself and your instrument. And not all istruments are capable of constant operations. Flutes get soaked, strings break, sweat and skin particles with gather where they aren't supposed to be. And all of this will happen, while you slowly tire out and probably go through one or the other frustrating moments.

I am sure that one week of constant practise can be extremely valuable if someone experienced helps you with the preparation. But if you try that on your own, no matter how much you read, it is likely to be a big failure. You don't know enough about your instrument and your musical weaknesses. You probably don't even know enough about your own physics and mental stability. One day can't do you any harm. But one week requires a lot of devotion and you cannot submit to something that you don't know enough, it needs a goal that has been set long time ago.
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Jhaptal

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Reply with quote  #4 
There is a good account of Zakir Hussain doing Chillas in Mickey Harts "At the Edge" (the book not the cd). It seems Zakirji did two Chillas when he was younger for forty days each. It's a descriptive account of what he experienced and a pretty good read as I remember. Just did a search for the book on Amazon but couldn't see it there. Shouldn't be too hard to find. Good luck!
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coughcapkittykat

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Reply with quote  #5 
With regards to Chilla-nashini, I can't see how that is even possible. Forty days without water or sleep? I thought humans could only 4 or 5 days without either!? Interesting that most of the people in the wiki page listed as doing this are fictional or ancient (depending on your viewpoint).

I have actually heard of this in a totally different context. It was about how to summon a djinn. I think there was talk of this being a practice in the Moroccan desert or if you do it in a certain place things can happen.

Spiritual entities or not, I would be very very careful about attempting this.
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talasiga

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Reply with quote  #6 
yes and in the same vein Dspeck has given some very good advice.
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Jhaptal"
There is a good account of Zakir Hussain doing Chillas in Mickey Harts "At the Edge" (the book not the cd). It seems Zakirji did two Chillas when he was younger for forty days each. It's a descriptive account of what he experienced and a pretty good read as I remember. Just did a search for the book on Amazon but couldn't see it there. Shouldn't be too hard to find. Good luck!
This sounds interesting. Perhaps just spend the week reading that book
(seriously!)
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drummerkjg

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you everyone for your advice! As far as the marathon comparison, yes, that is a really good point. I will definitely work up to it. The specific instrument I'm dealing with is the drum set, so fortunately the body mechanics involved are fairly natural and comfortable compared to some other instruments, and I haven't ever had physical problems from playing too much- although I've never done a 16 hour day. Maybe half that. I'll definitely be careful and try shorter periods of time first.

The mental side of it seems like it would be the hardest. The way I think about discipline is the same as the way I think about physical muscles, like I think it requires the same kind of building up. And to have the mental endurance to have focused, energetic practice for so long...I will definitely prepare for it the best I can and work up to it the same way.

Dspeck - especially the last paragraph you wrote - i will definitely take that to heart. Thanks for the warning.

Thanks again for all of your advice and knowledge. (Anything additional is welcome, too, if anyone has anything to add)
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talasiga

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "drummerkjg"
...... The specific instrument I'm dealing with is the drum set, so fortunately the body mechanics involved are fairly natural and comfortable compared to some other instruments, and I haven't ever had physical problems from playing too much- although I've never done a 16 hour day.
........
well the practice is not necessarily about physically playing your drum kit the full time.

For instance here is an agenda for 8 hour sadhana re drum, but only 2 hours are actually playing the kit. practice hours in bold .

5 am wake up and
5.30 - 6.30 hatha yoga or other stretches or physiotherapy regimen.
rather than counting numerally or using a clock to time the duration of your stretches and count repetitions, you would, instead, use a bol or a selected rhythm pattern for the day's practice which you verbalise as part and parcel of the the exercises.

6.30 - 7.30 as you prepare and eat your breakfast you listen to a tutorial or example of the pattern for the day on CD or whatever.

7.30 - 8 am some work on the silent drum (that rubber pad thingie) with your sticks.

8 - 8.30 as u get ready for work, having internalised your pattern for the day by now somewhat, you "dance" out your getting ready for work movements according to the pulse of the pattern.

[3 hours so far]

travelling to and from work 1.5 hours
mentally recite your pattern for the day and play with it in your head eg weave it in and out of everyday life rhythms you hear about you like in city traffic.
After some refreshment on arriving home a solid 2 hour session on your drum kit.

[6.5 hours so far]
after evening meal go for a walk in the park or by the sea or whatever.
Express the pattern of the day in your walking stride soemhow, either with a traditional dance step or one you make up yourself. 1 hour.

half hour before sleep
mentally recall the pattern for tomorrow and recite it.

this is an example of 8 hours of drum sadhana in daily life.

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povster

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Reply with quote  #10 
In the 70's I did chilla twice: the first one was for a weekend and the second one for a week. I went as far as to cover my windows in my small apartment so I could not tell the time of day. I didn't have a phone in those days, nor a TV or radio, so those distractions were not there to start. I made sure I had enough food and supplies to not need to go out. I switched my time between listening, practicing, studying lessons, thinking, counting and visualizing. The weekend one was nothing special. The week-long one was much more intense. By the end of it my playing was worse than when I began, but over time I saw much more rapid improvement than I was accustomed to.
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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
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jaan e kharabat

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "talasiga"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "drummerkjg"
...... The specific instrument I'm dealing with is the drum set, so fortunately the body mechanics involved are fairly natural and comfortable compared to some other instruments, and I haven't ever had physical problems from playing too much- although I've never done a 16 hour day.
........
well the practice is not necessarily about physically playing your drum kit the full time.

For instance here is an agenda for 8 hour sadhana re drum, but only 2 hours are actually playing the kit. practice hours in bold .

5 am wake up and
5.30 - 6.30 hatha yoga or other stretches or physiotherapy regimen.
rather than counting numerally or using a clock to time the duration of your stretches and count repetitions, you would, instead, use a bol or a selected rhythm pattern for the day's practice which you verbalise as part and parcel of the the exercises.

6.30 - 7.30 as you prepare and eat your breakfast you listen to a tutorial or example of the pattern for the day on CD or whatever.

7.30 - 8 am some work on the silent drum (that rubber pad thingie) with your sticks.

8 - 8.30 as u get ready for work, having internalised your pattern for the day by now somewhat, you "dance" out your getting ready for work movements according to the pulse of the pattern.

[3 hours so far]

travelling to and from work 1.5 hours
mentally recite your pattern for the day and play with it in your head eg weave it in and out of everyday life rhythms you hear about you like in city traffic.
After some refreshment on arriving home a solid 2 hour session on your drum kit.

[6.5 hours so far]
after evening meal go for a walk in the park or by the sea or whatever.
Express the pattern of the day in your walking stride soemhow, either with a traditional dance step or one you make up yourself. 1 hour.

half hour before sleep
mentally recall the pattern for tomorrow and recite it.

this is an example of 8 hours of drum sadhana in daily life.
Nice. Now how would amend that for a melodic unit of practice, i.e. what would that that melodic unit consist of etc?

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yussef ali k

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Posts: 322
Reply with quote  #12 
Hi.
According to Ustads + D Neuman book, chilla = 40 days: it implies a daily prax for 16hrs or more.

It sounds awesome to read/listen to those stories, but taken to real life it may also be:
1. Useless: don't jump into it if your normal practice = 2h/day, but if it is 8h/day, well ... it can be dangerous (= the above marathon analogy);

2. For a budding trad-family musician this may be easier attainable - don't forget he'll be at home, so Mom & Dad-Ustad will be there monitoring all the everyday stuff PLUS the practice: the family background is what makes chilla AND many other things easier in the riyaz of 'tomorrow's Ustad' than for the average guy: and the
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mysteryofmusic

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Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "jaan
Nice. Now how would amend that for a melodic unit of practice, i.e. what would that that melodic unit consist of etc?
I'm also interested in how would be a melodic practice like the one described for drums. It's great to receive these tips from the more advanced practitioners. Thanks a lot.
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JRJ

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Reply with quote  #14 
Not in any way to disagree with any of the wise comments above but perhaps to just take a slightly different approach; could it be the
mind attempting to "force" discipline upon the spirit? You (Kate) must have a strong desire to even contemplate such an effort. My experience
has been with these kinds of willful feats that we are always glad and happy that we did get through it, and now I am glad it's behind me". And "maybe I would do it again in the future"...But;
Can I be so bold to say what I know is true, more true than the stern task master of the mind. Sitar is love. Sitar is in your soup pot; make a
soup. Play sitar out of love until you are hungry then have some soup and maybe go for a walk. Play sitar some more as long as you are in love.
Keep doing this until you forget about time or schedules, or becoming a sitar player, just love. Then you will not want to stop.
*j*
.~
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povster

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "JRJ"
Not in any way to disagree with any of the wise comments above but perhaps to just take a slightly different approach; could it be the
mind attempting to "force" discipline upon the spirit? You (Kate) must have a strong desire to even contemplate such an effort. My experience
has been with these kinds of willful feats that we are always glad and happy that we did get through it, and now I am glad it's behind me". And "maybe I would do it again in the future"...But;
Can I be so bold to say what I know is true, more true than the stern task master of the mind. Sitar is love. Sitar is in your soup pot; make a
soup. Play sitar out of love until you are hungry then have some soup and maybe go for a walk. Play sitar some more as long as you are in love.
Keep doing this until you forget about time or schedules, or becoming a sitar player, just love. Then you will not want to stop.
*j*
.~
Just a few random observations.

As regards the mind forcing discipline on the spirit: the spirit, to me, supersedes the mind. The mind is more grounded in things of this world. The spirit takes off where the mind leaves off.

And, again to me, it is not "sitar" - it is Indian Classical Music or Raga or whatever you wish to call it. The instrument, be it sitar, sarod, voice, rudra vin etc are just - well - instruments we use to convey the music.

But much of the above I do agree with.

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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM
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