Teachers/ashrams recommendations for studying Bansuri indian flute

#1 Nov 13th, 2014, 20:28
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#1
Hello Indiamikers,

I'm looking for a place where I could rest for a couple of weeks from my travels and improve my Bansuri skills studying with a teacher. Currently I'm in Varanasi which seems to be a touristic epicentre for this but I wouldn't like to stay here for too long. Location is not really that important though I had already planned going to Dharamsala, Rishikesh, Delhi and then all the way south to Kerala so around those places would be preferable. I'd really wish to take it seriously and hopefully establish a long term communication with a teacher. If anybody could share some information, contacts or general pointers I'd really appreciate, even Varanasi would be okay if I can find the right teacher (and of course at a reasonable price).

Thanks
#2 Nov 13th, 2014, 20:43
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When I was in Varanasi I did a flute lesson at Baba School of Music. I only had one lesson just to see how different the flute was compared to what I'm used to playing.

I don't know his contact details but the school was on Meer Ghat right next to Ganpati guesthouse. He does sitar / flute and tabla lessons too.
#3 Nov 14th, 2014, 04:43
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#3
Varanasi, bansuri and Darmabum, all come to mind.

How different was the bansuri to your normal flute, Fing Fang?
#4 Nov 14th, 2014, 04:52
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Originally Posted by ViShVa View Post How different was the bansuri to your normal flute, Fing Fang?
Pretty different.

I am used to playing concert flute which is closed hole (with keys) and not wooden. I think the metal flutes sound sharper than the wooden ones.

I've also played the 5 key Bb flute, which is higher pitch than concert flute but not as loud as the piccolo. This is the one they play in UK marching bands along with the drums / bagpipes and bugles.

The main problem I found with the bansuri is that it was too long. I have small hands and the music teacher gave me the shortest flute he had and my littLE finger on right hand couldn't reach the last hole to cover it, no matter how hard I stretched. I need the flute with keys, much easier. This is why they wouldn't let me play clarinet in school - my hand were not big enough. I choose to learn flute instead.
#5 Nov 14th, 2014, 04:54
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#5
Your fingers need Sama's yoga classes to stretch more! That was lovely information, but it all went over my head!
#6 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:05
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Thank you ViShVa for alerting me to this one . . . bansuri in Varanasi . . . I found my guru through a little music/instrument shop near Asi Ghat called The Music Melody House. They sell tabla, sitar, bansuri, harmonium, etc and have access to teachers for all of the above and more.

My own guru's name is Sohan Lal. Classically trained by family/nine generations of musicians in his family. His parent wanted him to play shenai, and he did, until his parents left the house . . . then he'd sneak up to a closet and play bansuri. At 18 years of age he was the best in his class in the All-India Shehnai competition. I took him into the studio on my last trip to Varanasi and we recorded, both shenai and bansuri, that session I use for several of my video about Varanasi.

He speaks English very well and is really just a delightful man. Occasionally he would invite me over to his house, give his wife the night off from cooking, and take over the kitchen himself. The only time I ate meat in India is when Sohan Lal cooked.

And Fing Fang, the bansuri will stretch your hands. I graduated up to an E, about 28/29 inches long. The last hole might need to be searched-for each time. My fingers, and I have big hands, don't reach/won't cover all the holes without a stretch/and/or disconnecting from another hole.

And yes, finger-yoga will help you out.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson
#7 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:09
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Ahh Darmabum I knew you would come through. Excellent information! Again, the technicalities skimmed off the top of my head.
#8 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:09
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Originally Posted by Darmabum View Post
My fingers, and I have big hands, don't reach/won't cover all the holes without a stretch/and/or disconnecting from another hole.

And yes, finger-yoga will help you out.
This was my problem too. All I needed was an extra few mm of stretch haha! I didn't realised you played the flute too. The bansuri looks relatively easy to pick up. A few days of practice with notes and I'd be able to play it... sheet music is easier for me, I take longer to memorise the tunes.
#9 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:24
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#9

Sohan Lal and I, Varanasi

Yeah, the older I get, the more I can't remember Sohan Lal had me get a notebook after our first lesson and he wrote out the raga I was working on.

I'd been looking for over 20 years for a wind instrument that struck me where I flute I heard playing through the midnight streets of Cuzco. The bansuri was that instrument.

If you do get to Varanasi, look Sohan Lal up. He really is something.

Here's a picture of the two us. When I first met him, over a decade ago, I put on a birthday party for myself. Sohan Lal got together the musicians - all my favorites from Music Melody House, we rented a house by the Ganges, and we partied! The picture is me putting a sterling silver Om around his neck.

Sohan Lal leaves Varanasi for monsoon. Goes up to Dharamsala for several months.
Attached Images
Me and Sohan Lal - jpeg.jpg 
#10 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:28
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#10
I think that the OP (Original Poster) will be a very happy bunny. He has Varanasi, and Dharamsala and Darmabum!

You look very happy there, Darmabum, and sound very happy on IM, and hope you always stay that way

What a lovely and heartfelt evocative post. Thank you.
#11 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:55
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ViShVa . . . gotta tell ya . . . in the midst of a somewhat ho-hum day (writing isn't goin' so well today ) to get your message, a chance to share some bansuri, Varanasi and Sohan Lal . . . yeah . . . perked me right up!
#12 Nov 14th, 2014, 05:58
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#12
Oh, and you forgot 'IndiaMike'
#13 Nov 14th, 2014, 06:09
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#13
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Originally Posted by Darmabum View Post ViShVa . . . gotta tell ya . . . in the midst of a somewhat ho-hum day (writing isn't goin' so well today ) to get your message, a chance to share some bansuri, Varanasi and Sohan Lal . . . yeah . . . perked me right up!
OT.

DB, I haven't had the chance to thank you for recommending "Banaras City of Light" book. I received my copy couple of weeks ago and I am enjoying the book immensely. It is such a good book that I am taking my time reading it and find myself in the back streets of Varanasi. I hope to find some of places listed in the book when I am there next month. Thanks again DB.
#14 Nov 14th, 2014, 06:12
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Govindpuri - I try to share that one with anyone headed that way, anyone looking for more depth. Glad you found it helpful. One of my own treasures from the book was finding the place where "Om" came out of the ground, and the temple on that site. It's in an old Muslim neighborhood near the old railway station.
#15 Nov 14th, 2014, 06:13
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You're right, ViShVa! How could I mention the message and forget the medium

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