"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."
It is great to be a beginner. One of my adult students recently sent me an unsolicitated essay. Here are excerpts from it that nicely encapsulate the feeling to be a beginner - in much more articulate way than I could ever have said.
Though I do not have a clear reasoning on why I decided to pursue Bansuri, Bansuri had a Ripple Effect on me even though I am pursuing it as a hobby.
[Ripple Effect: An act in a domain (learning Bansuri) creating waves of changes in other domains (lifestyle, attitude, personality Et. Al).]
Mood - After Bansuri, I am able to be conscious and appreciate my moods. This was only possible due to learning of Ragas. My appreciation or internalization of mood would not have been possible without exposure to Bansuri Ragas. Music helped me experience “mood”. Pre –Bansuri, I used to be short tempered and react to situations that made me angry right away. Now, I am watchful of my mood (mood of anger) and its effect on me.
Surrender - I had an ungrounded arrogance that I was very gifted. Once I held the Bansuri in hand and tried to play, It made me look so incompetent. Bansuri taught me that I (my body) have (has) to surrender to Bansuri’s limits and respect its boundaries. Bansuri helped me uncover my shortcomings in ways that I could not have imagined.
Listening - I was a poor listener. When others spoke, I already was thinking about my response. I also interrupted others during conversation. My struggle to listen to the Bansuri notes, taught me that in order to listen you have to “clear your mind and suspend judgments” and just be receptive of the sound.
Rhythm - My life was out of control and was going at various speeds at various times. I did not how to prioritize. Learning of importance of rhythm through Bansuri class and Taal session had a big impact on me. I take time to do things. When I undertake a task, I am conscious that it has a flow and rhythm. I don’t rush through tasks. I understand different tasks take different time and at the same time I maintain a nice pace when I go about doing things. I taught my daughter Hula-Hoop just by telling her to tap her feet in a rhythmical way when she was practicing it. This did the trick; she is expert at Hula-Hoop.
Humility – The way Bansuri is played my Guru Prasad Ji and the Masters Hari Ji and others, made me very humble. They have pretty much the same bamboo stick with holes, they blow the same air, but the music that comes out is different! This made me see their good qualities at the same time their humble saying that they still have a long way to go made me feel very small. I understood the concept of “Guru Parampara” and “Gurumukhi Vidya” by watching the Raga Unveiled DVD. It is not just the way you seek knowledge but the humility with which you seek it makes an ocean of difference. In the Taal session, Ravi Gutala (ed - Ravi is an accomplished tabla player in San Francisco Bay Area) said that a Tabla player should play below the musicians range, show humility and respect to musician. This statement made me fathom about the concept of humility intensely.
Being Present - Though I was physically present wherever I was, I lived in the past or the future. When I sat in front of Prasad Ji with fellow students, whenever I was not present mentally, I missed the note or the beat. I had to really bring my mind to the “Present” to play my notes well and listen well. This made me not only alert but also made me receptive of the things around me. One of the great benefits of being receptive of things around you is that you experience and enjoy the world in a whole new way. Your awareness and learning are directly related.
Lung Capacity – My lung capacity has gotten really better. Initially I would find it difficult to play for an hour. Presently, I can play for more than hour with little difficulty. It also has given me better health and better control on my breathing. I am more conscious of my breathing.
Saadhana (Practice) – I learned that Saadhana is not possible without meaningful struggle. Saadhana takes time, practice and dedication. Now when I see an accomplished musician, I not only enjoy the music but also appreciate and respect the Saadhana they have gone through to be where they are.
Recreation – Bansuri has been a good hobby and diversion for me. Bansuri practice helps me take my mind of regular world and be in a different world of music. At times when I practice Bansuri, I feel very emotional, feel like crying - I do not know why. In my private practice on certain occasions, I have tears in my eyes after playing certain notes. I believe those notes are having some kind of therapeutic effect on me. It is probably giving me some kind of emotional outlet. At times when I play a note, I merge into the Bansuri. It is hard to differentiate whether I am the Bansuri or Bansuri is me. When this experience happens to me, it is climactic.
Bansuri also has helped connect with other likeminded students. Most of them at different points in this journey but I love to observe their dedication, appreciation and struggle. In summary, my journey with Bansuri is a form of therapy for me. Lastly, I found a friend in Bansuri.
A large number of you who are reading this site are likely adult beginners or young adult beginners. Here is some information that would help you. Click on topics above to access it.