INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

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coughcapkittykat

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Reply with quote  #1 
Forgive me if this is in the wrong section, it's a rather broad topic and could possibly be better off in another section.

I've been thinking about moving to India to live (and become fluent in Hindi) for a while but I've never really worked out what to do there. I was thinking of volunteering, and probably would, but that would just be a way of staying in the country cheaply for a while.

Now, last night I watched the Raga film about Ravi Shankar and how he gave everything up to study under a guru. This has got me thinking that maybe moving to a little village and studying sitar properly could be pretty good. But I'm wondering about the reality of it.

Firstly, is this even possible? I was very impressed about how Ravi cited his culture as being so important to him and I would love to learn all that as well as the sitar.

How much would this cost? I am thinking of the long term and would ideally like to find somewhere I can do some work for my accommodation, or a similar arrangement, to keep costs down. I'm guessing this would only be feasible in villages rather than having to pay a fortune for a Banares guru.

I don't think dedication would be a problem, I've always lived and breathed music and, although I've only just started with sitar, I do love the sitar and want to become good at it one day (in the distant future). I want to stay in India for at the very least a few years and would be more than willing to dedicate this time to sitar.

also, what about language...I am already learning Hindi so I will be wanting to stay somewhere that speaks it but I'm worried that perhaps the villages will speak a dialect that I won't understand?

I'm just looking for any kind of advice or opinion about this really.
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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #2 
wow. you've raised a lot of issues here.

it's unclear (to me) whether your primary goal is simply to live in India or to learn sitar.

as far as costs go, India is seriously cheap (outside of Mumbai/Delhi) so you'd be better off saving money before going and then stretching that money once there. working for room/board in India is pretty much unheard of, unless you're in an ashram (which doesn't sound like your 'thing').

assuming that your true goal is to learn sitar, you should be aware that going there with the intention of just finding a guru is a real crap shoot and could end up being counterproductive, by which I mean your ending up at the feet of someone who is, shall we say, 'sub-par' - or worse.

this is especially true since a lot of tourists do this - and there are plenty of guys who are more than ready to take their cash (and who can blame them? it's a poor country still).

interestingly, the idea of 'when the student is ready, the guru will appear' is widely believed and you might just have the right serendipity and end up with a great guru - but I'd say that's unlikely, especially since it sounds like you're a beginner: you'll be unable to tell if the guy is any good at all.

the unscrupulous ones will, first of all, sell you an overpriced piece of junk sitar (for which they get a nice 'commission'). nice, huh?

so, if I were you, I'd try to do the research before going. one suggestion: read 'the music room', a memoir that describes ICM study at its best, from the inside - it will give you an excellent idea of what an amazing thing it can be to have a good guru (and will hopefully also tell you if you've got a lemon).

lastly, I think you'll have much better odds of finding a good guru in the larger cities (not the villages).

I've heard enough horror stories about people studying (or trying to...) music in India - please don't become another one!
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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #3 
btw, this should probably be in the 'general' category, not 'off-topic'.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #4 
- - - advice and opinion ! ? ! Oh, brother ! ! ! I've been to India too many times to count, having gone there as a first class tourist, street bum, music school buyer, roadie for Ravi Shankar and instrument delivery guy. It's easy to get caught up in all the romance and mystic of eternal exotic India. There are indeed many such sites to see. The tourist brochures are loaded with pictures of them. Wonderful architecture and settings, exotic garbed people, sights, sounds, smells, etc. All wondeful stuff. Now aim the camera down five degrees and catch the kids with their hands in your pocket going for your wallet. Marvel at the open sewers that you have to step over. Side step as best you can the legion of opportunists who want to take away your day for a "negotiable" fee. You become a prime target. Unless you are incredibly adept at dealing with this kind of scenario and are young enough and of drop forged physical and mental stature, you will lose any affection for India in about 2 - 3 weeks. That's just long enough take the last photos, shower up, slug down a double dose of Imodium and get to the airport for your return flight. The charm wears thin reeeeely quick.

As far as getting a good sitar to play and learn on - good luck. You will get tourist fodder at any and all shops. Your best bet for a quality instrument that has been checked out thoroughly will be here in the USA. Your best bet for quality instruction will also be here in the USA. Any number of visiting Pandits and Ustads drop in for a semi regular teaching program. As a beginner, this is clearly the best approach to take. Go ahead and see India first hand. It will a most memorable trip, that's for sure. It's an experience that nobdy can ever take away. That alone makes it worth the effort. It will also give you the first hand knowledge to decide wether your original idea of moving to India is practical or even possible. I lived there for six years. Clydesdales couldn't drag me back there as no doubt you've assumed.

I know one person who did this India migration. She moved to Calcutta and studied with a most qualified guru. She learned Bengali and all the other steps required to live there as a full time resident. She is now in the San Francisco area recovering nicely. She might jump onto this topic and provide her insight. There's a book if ever was ! ! !

The idea of living in a village in the middle of nowhere is pure fantasy and charm. A nice one, granted but in reality it would be a waste of your time. Learning sitar in a mud (dung) hut for years on end from a qualified teacher is just not there. Any qualified player / teacher will head for the big city to try and carve a name and income from that talent.

By all means, go to India and see for yourself what the REAL scene is there. Be certain to have a return ticket, a visa that is properly dated, etc.

All the best.

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Lars

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Reply with quote  #5 
Really good advice from two different points of view IMHO. I'd second what Tony said also, go there first and check it out....it's one thing to have an idea of how learning sitar is from a movie but another in reality absolutely. Plenty of good teachers in the States also and you have the benefit of getting feedback from other people about them. A cool forum/site about India is indiamike.com , go check that out too....
Good luck!

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theprosperone

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Reply with quote  #6 
There is also one other option which you can look into. First find a teacher in your area. Take some lessons, get started with the music and the basics and possibly establish a nice relationship with your teacher. Many teachers travel back and forth, teaching in the USA while touring or whatever else and living in India during the winter and concert seasons. If you find a teacher first, get the basics down and get started with the music and see you're still serious and eager to go, you may end up being able to travel and study somehow through your teacher or someone they know, ect. Then if you do chose to go, you'll already be started on the sitar practice so you're time will be even better spent while there. If you start playing and it really grabs hold of you and you get really serious into the music, it seems a trip to India will probably just come into play on its own.
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anandvyasorg

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Reply with quote  #7 
There is an option. You can come to India and I can set you up with daily lessons from 90 year Pandit Sukhraj Jhalla ~ Pandmavibhushan Nikhil Bannerjee's last living disciple. The lessons are about 200 rupees per day (one hour or so) ~ if you go everyday like i do ~ if not 6 dollars a WEEK or 6 times 7 days in a week is 36 dollars a week for everyday. That is about 8 dollars for a sitar lesson from a master of the Senia Beenkar Ghrana. Kadar Khan recently brought his son Shakir and another kid from America to study with Jhalla-Sahib for a month or two.He does this regularly. Kadar Khan also calls Jhalla-Sahib Guru - it is certainly possible.
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