Sarod Resources: The Ekalavya Project

This page contains information of interest to adult students of the sarod who are unable to get first hand information about the instrument from a guru. I’ll keep adding more information over time. Please note that my knowledge extends only to the Ud Amjad Ali Khan style of playing – I have limited knowledge of other gharanas. If you do have information about them, I’m happy to upload these with due credit to you. Please click on posts tagged ” Resources” to get all the information on this topic.

I call it the Ekalavya Project because like the mythological character Ekalavya, who was largely self taught, as I feel that modern times have turned many of us sitting around the world into Ekalavyas.  We are passionate about the music and the instrument, but unable to get the right information and the right guidance. A lot of information about the sarod is kept hidden, and is not public. The objective of this page is to publish as much information on the sarod as possible.

If you are after the free Raga Guide that I’m compiling, please click here:

Free Raga Guide

 

http://sarod.com.au/some-selected-ragas-on-the-sarod/

(work in progress)

SAROD 101: Getting Started with learning the Sarod

This is a simple, plain, no-nonsense introduction to learning the sarod (or sarode, if you so prefer) – aimed at someone who has basic questions.

Firstly, you need to find a teacher. Why? Because the sarod is not a beginner’s instrument – there is no “Sarod for Dummies” book and for good reason. Most Indian classical instruments do not lend themselves well to Dummies. (and hence such books). In the initial stages of the sarod learning, it’s best to learn from a teacher who actually plays the instrument. You can learn from any competent teacher (sitar, vocalist etc) later, but in the beginning you need someone who can show you how to tune the instrument, mount wires, hold the java (plectrum) etc.

Secondly, as far as teachers go, let us be clear : the old guru shishya parampara is practically dead – usually the gurus only have time for their kids, and not for you.  (so there go the free lessons – gone are the days where gurus would have shishyas living with them, performing household chores and learning at the same time). I studied sarod and vocal music for free, however, I suspect those days are long gone (I was possibly among the last batch of such freeloaders).

Then you need to find an instrument. It’s best if you let the teacher get you one. That’s because unless  you know what you’re looking for, you won’t know how to pick the sarod. One basic decision needs to be made: do you want to learn the Ustad Amjad Ali Khan style, the Maihar style (Ud Ali Akbar Khan) or the Senia Shahjahanpur style (Pt Radhika Mohan Moitra). Usually, you’ll pick your teacher based on this preference.

Don’t get drawn into Hemen vs Kanailal vs others – when you’re starting out, it doesn’t really matter.

Also, if you play the guitar, it’ll really help playing the sarod (especially Amjad Ali Khan style). The key change will be that you’ll now need to hit the strings hard with a much thicker (and sometimes larger) plectrum.

So, now you’ve lined up a teacher (in person or over the internet), got yourself an instrument, you are on your way.  I’ll keep posting more info, however, remember the two golden rules of sarod playing:

1. Practice scales day in day out. This is boring, but it is the foundation of all sarod playing.

2. Always practice with the tabla (I’m assuming you have an electronic one). This is vital.  This will get the taal into your subconscious, so you won’t have to stop and count “matras” on simple taals like Teental

Best wishes to us all Ekalavyas !

I’ve now setup a page where all my posts are aggregated into Ragas –

Selected Ragas

24 Replies to “Sarod Resources: The Ekalavya Project”

  1. Hi Rahulji,

    I am a keen musician who is based in Brisbane for the past three years, studying Bachelor of Environmental Engineering. My first instrument is the keyboards, and I am a composer and an arranger as well. From my early childhood though, I have been listening to Ustaadji and fortunately I have had the chance to meet him a few times as well to seek his blessings. I have decided to start learning the sarod. I am learning online from Shree Sachin Patwardhan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY3d8sspIxs) for the past 3 months. At the moment I am learning on the guitar with sarod tuning and techniques, but my sarod should be with me by mid February.
    I would love to meet up with you whenever you are in Brisbane, or when I travel to Melbourne. Actually I was in Melbourne over the Christmas holidays for 5 days, but I wish I came across this website before my trip. I am a very keen musician and always interested in learning more and more.
    Hoping to hear back from you soon.

    Warm Regards
    Parth Raval

    1. Hi Parth
      Good to hear from a fellow sarod student and enthusiast. A guitar background certainly helps in the Amjad Ali style of Sarod playing. I certainly know of Sachin ji – although I didn’t meet him when I used to frequent Ustadji’s place in the early 90s on a daily basis ( a lot of new shagird’s have come on board since I left New Delhi – I was with the much older batch of senior shagirds – Abhik Sarkar, Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, Mukesh Sharma etc).

      Please drop me a note if you’re coming to Melbourne – we should catch up. If you also want to contribute my project on building an online repository of free information about the sarod and related music, please let me know. Most of the questions I get are from people who are transitioning to the sarod, so I am trying to compile a FAQ as part of the project. Hopefully, in 2011, I will do a better job in getting the repository off the ground….

      Regards, Rahul

  2. Hi,
    I like the idea of project Eklavya. Being is melbourne and posessing as much knowledge of Sarod/Indian Classical as Chinese knows about cricket. How much chances do I have to learn such a devine insrument & from where ( In Melbourne)? At this stage I have some time & plenty of zeal to learn it.
    Many Thanks & Regards
    hemant

  3. Rahulji,

    I live on NJ and would like to seek guidance where I can find a teacher.
    I can pay but I need good guidance on where to learn sarod. I have never learnt classical music but I remember all the ragas on sarod like crazy. I am a huge fan of Ustad Amjad Ali khan Saab and would really want to spend more time on learning the instrument. pls suggest what could be the best next step here for me ? Anyone you know I can approach ?

    Hope to see your reply soon.

    Manav M
    North Brunswick, NJ

    1. Hi Manav,if you haven’t learnt classical music before, I strongly recommend getting singing lessons from a local teacher before tackling the sarod. From my experience teaching sarod to adult students – starting without the sarod is the best option. If you are already familiar with the theory and notes of indian classical music, then you should start with the sarod. I’m sure there are very good vocal teachers in New Jersey. At a minimum, you should try to get a reasonable understanding of notes (komal, shuddha, teevra), taal (teentaal) etc….If you already have a good sense of music (e.g from guitar, keyboard, singing Bollywood songs, ghazals etc), you can cover this quite quickly and then get onto the sarod. Hope this helps, best of luck…
      Rahul

      1. Thanks Rahul for your reply. I feel humbled and honored. I am quiet familiar with the notes and taals. My father is a classical singer and he did quiet a bit in his time ;).My son is learning guitar every week and I keep bumping into his teacher from the last 2 years or so., Plus I have been listenning to classical music from Pt. Omkar Nath Thakur to Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and almost every raga in Sarod 🙂 so please help me finding out – where I can learn sarod. (If you happen to know someone I mean or any recommendations you might have). i cannot seem to find anything in NJ though

        Manav

        1. Manav,
          Hello to someone else interested in learning the sarod! I see you live in NJ and are looking for a teacher. It is not exactly next door, but I am in Philadelphia and am also looking for a teacher. Perhaps there will be one who lives between North Brunswick and Philadelphia. If I hear of a teacher in the PA/NJ area reasonably close I will pass on the information.

          Leopold

          1. Yes Leopold,

            I think that would be awesome.. I wouldn’t mind even getting down to PA even..close to downtown area if you find someone. I am close to south Jersey.. Trenton is about 30 minutes but for a good teacher.. it would be worth it.
            Manav

  4. Namaste, Rahulji,

    I am a guitarist with a keen interest in Hindustani music. I am a big fan of Amjadji and listen to his music most every day.

    I am looking to start playing the sarod, I already have the Raagini electronic tabla & tanpura and was looking at their MAHARAJ Tun Wood Sarod – Amjad Ali Khan Style http://www.buyraagini.com/string-instruments/sarod/sarod-maharaja-amjad-ali-khan-stylenatural-wood-color-tun-wood-with-coconut-plectrum.html. As I would be just starting out and don’t have a lot of money to spend at the moment, I was wondering what you thought of this instrument.

    Also, I downloaded your online version of your book but of course a lot was left out for the online copy and was wondering how I can get ahold of the full version.

    Thanks for all your help and many blessings on you for providing this great service!
    Russ

    1. Hello Russ, sorry about not getting back to you earlier…the sarod looks ok to me from the pictures, however, without having seen one in person, it’s a bit hard to tell…
      Re: book, you can pay the price and get links to the PDF and videos via the Oronjo link or payment via Paypal.
      Thanks, Rahul

  5. Namaskar Rahul ji,
    Is it possible to learn both guitar and sarod both at a time? I had learnt classical vocal for 2 years, almost 10 years ago.

    1. Yes, if you are happy to use artificial nails for the sarod. In my case I use my natural nails so that has meant an end to my guitar playing…another point to note is that both these instruments require time to play at a decent level so trying to do both simultaneously may be time challenge. Rahul

  6. Hello sir,
    I have learnt Tabla. Now, I want to learn a string instrument Sarod/Setar. Which will be better for me? Is it necessary to know singing to learn the said instruments. I have no training on singing.

  7. Hello Ariji, it’s always advisable to learn singing, without which the instruments will be incredibly difficult to learn. Everyone can sing, it’s just a matter of training your mind to recognise notes and melodies. Re: instrument, both sarod/sitar are major instruments, and worth pursuing.

    All the best..Rahul

  8. Dear Rahul Sir,
    I am very delighted to see this site with lots of information.
    I am really awestruck by the sarod! Would you be able to guide me to any Guru in Bangalore,India for learning the Sarod?

    Could you please also elaborate why we need to know table/vocal before learning the sarod?

    thank you.
    Priya

  9. Hello Priya, I am not aware of sarod teachers in Bengaluru, Pt Rajeev Taranath comes to mind, but I’m not sure where he is based (Mysore, I think). However, there must be sarod teachers in a city of that size.

    Having a base in vocal singing/tabla is like learning ABC of music. The sarod/sitar or any other instrument “implements” the same music fundamentals, and their degree of difficulty is much harder. If you start by learning the sarod without learning the basics of the music, it’s like trying to learn Shakespeare without having gone to primary school. The degree of difficulty will become much harder, as you’ll struggle with both the music and the instrument. Even passing familiarity with vocal music and taal will mean that you will only have to learn the instrument, hence my recommendation.
    Best Regards, Rahul

    1. hello Rahul sir!
      i would like to learn sarod… would you please help me out to find a teacher in Noida, India? i have little knowledge on playing few instruments like piano,guitar, violin, drums and harmanium along with singing…. let it may be a personal teacher, online or books….i am interested….

      Thanks, Nayak

  10. Hi Rahul

    I am writing to you to ask you about lessons possibility on sarod and not a complete beginner. I would love to chat to you if time permits. I have decided not to sell but now pursue sarod again. I also play pedal harp.
    Can we discuss this? Many thanks.
    Regards Russell

  11. Hi Rahul,

    I am having a sarod of Bangash Gharana i.e Ustad Amjad ali khan.Initially I stated with one of the follower of Ustad ji but due to some financial problem I stop visiting him. I do believe that that made him felt offended.
    I recently joined a new organization and I want really some one who can guide me the basics of sarod. Please let me know if you do have any information regarding any guru in New Delhi.
    I need your help for one more thing I recently opened the sarod and most of the strings are damaged. Could you please let me know the specification of strings. Like Maa ,Saa ,Paa ,Saa.

  12. Namaskar Rahul, Gone through info and all these communication, very helpful. Looking for a Guru (right guidance) at New Delhi.

    warm regards,
    Sumitro Dhar (09810381466)

  13. Namskar Rahul ji,

    I am a guiter player from past few years and with the interest in indian classical music i had a dream to learn sarod . Now I am staying in Mumbai and bought a maihar gharana sarod and finding teacher but disappointed by not finding any contact via internet . I have no contacts here in Mumbai .So if you can please help suggesting and giving me contacts i will be really obliged .

    Thanking you,
    Rajdip Chowdhury
    Kolkata
    West Bengal

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