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Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #1 
Is sarod too difficult of an instrument to learn as your first instrument? Would it be smarter to try sitar or another Indian instrument to learn the basics of the Indian musical system and then switch to sarod?
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Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #2 
No. It is not too difficult to learn as your first instrument. What makes the sarod difficult is the lack of frets and the need to get an idea of the note-positions on the fingerboard. The other deterrent is the length and tapering width of the fingerboard. Provided one is musically inclined, one should be able to get basic intonation (granted, it is difficult to be 100%), plectrum grip and left-right hand coordination right in six months of focused coaching with a decent teacher. (Kirill Suvorov)

Here's a video of a student I started off from the scratch. This video indicates his progress after seven weeks of playing. Of course, he is exceptionally talented, and is already playing much better than what you will see here. He is a very tall man, and I am still trying to get him to make his sitting posture a little more appealing and efficient, but it is difficult for someone who has never tried sitting cross-legged until the age of 30. Another interesting fact is that I got him started playing with his fingertips with the hope that the workouts would strengthen them, develop calluses, and once I let him grow his nails to the same height as the calluses, the combined tone and control would be something to reckon with. This stems from my experience, early on, with bad teaching (when I was a 4-6 year old with paper-thin fingernails). (Maestro Akash)

Another Russian sarod player with an better (and from this angle, really good looking) sitting posture, but very compromised technique - look at the way he is fumbling with ekhara taans (and fails to complete a single eight-matra taan). This, in spite of 20+ years of playing, is obviously a sign that his teacher, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, has not bothered to give him much attention. Given how he has the music inside him (and his lucidity is challenged only by lack of technique), he can't be without talent. It is bad coaching. (Maestro Akash)

Far more respectable performance in this instance from Maestro Akash, but I rest my case. If this talented guy took more than 20 years to arrive at this level of playing, it says much about the sincerity with which he was taught. He does not come across as an insincere student or performer to me. One thing to note here, that relates to "Sam"'s earlier post is the fact that Akash very deftly translates krintans (plucks/hammers) from what is obviously a guitar background, onto the sarod. To me, this is the most impressive aspect of his playing.

Anyhow, those were my two cents. Wherever you are, try and find a good teacher who will coach you on technique first (plectrum grip, finger positions, exercises, etc) and not give you spiritual mumbo-jumbo or claim to be teaching you a 200+ year old "sacrosanct" compositions that is oh-so-important to his gharana.



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Posts: 2,487
Reply with quote  #3 
Arnabsarod gave some very interesting insights here.

The main thing, to me, is that the basics of the Indian music system is the same across instruments. Each instrument presents different techniques but the system remains the same. Rules of a raga do not change from sitar to sarod. Masatkhani gats exsit in both sitar or sarod. Etc.

If sarod is the instrument you want to play, I suggest starting with it. If, for examplre, you start with sitar and practice with it for, say, a year, well where will you be sarod-wise in a year? Nowhere. If you began with sarod then you'd have had a year's sarod experience under your belt. I vote if you are just starting off with this music and want to learn on sarod, then start with sarod.

I thank you.

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