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Learning Hindustani music takes much longer, even though you should begin learning as soon as you can play the notes. Just relax and take your time. To begin with, do not worry about covering any holes on the flute. It is far more important to get a sound first before we try to cover the holes and learn the notes. This first step concentrates on getting the sound. The idea is here is just to hold the flute up to your mouth so the the blowing hole is under your lips.
Of course if you are left handed you will use opposite hands. Raise the flute so that the blowing hole is in front of your lips and aligned with them. I demonstrate this in the pictures below:. You may notice if you are a beginner that you get out of breath easily or feel dizzy when blowing into the bansuri or that you are not able to play lots of notes or hold the sound for long this happens especially on the bigger flutes. This is normal when you are a beginner because beginners tend to blow without using the full capacity of their lungs and they also tend to blow too hard.
In order to use the full capacity of your lungs, it is necessary to use abdominal breathing which is similar to a technique for breath control used in yoga called "pranayama". Put your hand on your belly and take a deep breath so that your belly begins to stick out.
Now breathe out slowly and feel with your hand how your belly gets slowly smaller. Repeat this several times. By doing this, your are filling your lungs up with as much air as possible and then slowly releasing.
When you play, you must learn how to breathe in quickly, using your abdomen and then release the air slowly. It is a bit like swimming when you must breathe in quickly when coming up for air. Reaching the notes in the higher register can be more difficult.
The main thing to remember is that you do not need to blow harder but instead make your embouchure smaller so that the air flows faster through your lips. The air also needs to be more focused with the air flowing faster. A good way to imagine this is by thinking of a garden hose. When used normally, the water flows out at a moderate speed, but if you close the hole partially at the end of the hose, the water comes flying out very quickly. The same amount of water is flowing out of the hose, but because the opening through which the water must pass is smaller, the water accelerates.
The same is true for playing the bansuri. For the higher notes, you must use the same amount of air but make your embouchure smaller, thus increasing the air speed. Tighten your lips as much as possible so that the air is flowing fast through a very small hole in your lips. These sequences are called "Alankaar" or "Palta" in Hindi and mean "Ornamentation" or patterns of notes.
They can be played at varying speeds once mastered to ornament the music but as a beginner you should learn them as slowly as possible because this will train your brain and equip you better for playing them faster later. The notes in red with an apostrophe before them are notes in the low register or octave.
Notes in blue are notes in the middle register. Notes in pink with an apostrophe after them are notes in the highest register. I demonstrate the exercises in videos below on a G bass flute. If you have a different flute, they will sound different in pitch. Exercise 1. Exercise 2. Exercise 3. Exercise 4. Exercise 5.
The following exercises require the use of the tongue. So you can play the same note multiple times but by saying "ta' or "ta-ta-ta" when you blow into the flute. Try producing the following:. Exercise 6. Exercise 7. You can also make up your own alankaars. Here are a few more suggestions of various combinations:. Many combinations are possible. Just taking the 4 notes Sa Re Ga Ma, we can get some of the following sequences and more:.
MRGS etc etc It is also possible to practice these alankaars with grace notes. You literally tap the hole of the note - on and off very quickly. So when you play this sequence of notes you will play Sa Re Ga then you will tap your finger on and off the grace note, in this case the Re hole very quickly then playing Ga normally.
Try to play the grace notes in the following practice exercises:. Email This BlogThis! Subscribe to: Posts Atom.
Beginner Flute Lesson 1 : Breathing and Posture (part 1)
A bansuri is a side blown flute originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is an aerophone produced from bamboo, used in Hindustani classical music. It is referred to as nadi and tunava in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism. A bansuri is traditionally made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Some modern designs come in ivory, fiberglass and various metals. The six hole instrument covers two and a half octaves of music.