Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

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radhika108
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#1 Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by radhika108 »

Hello,

I would like to know approximately how many hours of practice it takes to perfect 3rd speed akara for one raga. It will help as a motivation for me.

Thanks

msakella
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#2 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by msakella »

A very interesting question. There are so many ready to answer as they like to but many keep quiet and prefer only to watch the show! But a truly efficient and honest music-teacher only gives a logical answer. Are there any ??? amsharma/msakella

radhika108
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#3 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by radhika108 »

Thanks Akella Sir, I would love to know your inputs, Namaskarams

nadhasudha
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#4 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by nadhasudha »

radhika108 wrote: 01 Jan 2022, 01:23 Hello,

I would like to know approximately how many hours of practice it takes to perfect 3rd speed akara for one raga. It will help as a motivation for me.

Thanks
Hello,

I would like to preface my input with a comment that there is no such thing as having perfected anything in music. We can only aspire to get better with each passing day and the goal should be reasonable levels of proficiency.

Having said that, akaaram should be sung in all 3 speeds for all the varisais - Sarali, Jantai, Dhatu, Lower, Upper and also alankaaram. The 3 speeds are needed because an aspiring student needs to develop clarity, correct tone and pitch of each and every note. To sing with all 3 speeds with reasonable level of proficiency, it depends on the individual talent, dedication and discipline. You can start with metronome speed at 68 and slowly increase speed. Always best to sing akaaram first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Your goal should be to perform to your best in the chosen metronome speed before increasing to a higher metronome speed. As you increase the speed, you should not compromise on clarity, tone or pitch.

Once you are comfortable singing in 3 speeds, you can challenge yourself to sing in 4th speed(8 notes per beat) while still maintaining same levels of clarity, tone and pitch.

thenpaanan
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#5 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by thenpaanan »

radhika108 wrote: 01 Jan 2022, 01:23 Hello,

I would like to know approximately how many hours of practice it takes to perfect 3rd speed akara for one raga. It will help as a motivation for me.

Thanks
There are at least three implicit assumptions in the question that need to be made explicit.

1. The idea that there is a fixed number of hours (per day, per week, per month, or in total) that will give you mastery over the subject. I don't know why there is a belief that a certain number of hours is minimum. I have seen students who get the idea in a instant with apparently no effort at all and others who have to slog. It depends so much on the individual that any non-flippant answer to this question of how many hours would be sheer noise.

2. The idea that one can achieve some sort of perfection in this. I don't know anyone who knows how to define perfection here. I have listened to even great masters do a bad job of akAra once in a while. My answer to this question is that one should define it for oneself and ignore the world. The best advice I have here is to record oneself and listen. You tend to be your own harshest critic. Listen to see if you have achieved the clarity and continuous pitch alignment (or whatever your criteria are) in the recording. I say this because I have heard great vidwans slur their akAra at fast speeds repeatedly, not just once or twice, and yet no one will say out loud that their akAra was not good enough. Either you get a teacher whom you trust (and agree with, esthetically) or you make your own judgement. Right now there is not enough critical mass of objective thinking in Carnatic music on this topic to easily find peers or collaborators to learn from.

3. The idea that the practice is "per raga". Because each rAga is unique, some extra practice is surely needed for each raga. But the basics of akAra should consume the bulk of the practice hours and those basics are transferable to any rAga.

If you want to improve your akAra shuddham at various speeds (and it is not necessarily true that faster is harder -- for some people, slower akAara is much harder than fast), just record, listen and focus on the parts where you have trouble: speed, range, etc (what Sarma gAru refers to elsewhere on this forum as "intelligent practice"). You don't need to practice all the varisais all the time, embrace the fact that some things are harder for you than other things and those will be unique to you.

Traditional advice such as singing in early morning, practicing low pitch, singing in waist high water, drinking honeyed water, etc all give poor return on investment. Just ensure incrementality -- warm up your voice before going to any extreme of speed or range, focus on resonance, and back off when you observe your voice getting strained.

The best place to look for advanced advice would be singer teachers who specialize in vocal technique (since this is specific to the voice). These days there are many who are on youtube. I don't want to judge them.

I regret missing an opportunity to attend a voxology masterclass from Dr Sriram Parashuram a few weeks ago in December 2021. If someone attended this perhaps they could summarize on this forum. Sriram is one of the most knowledgeable musicians when it comes to voice (in addition to all his other great talents).

-T

nadhasudha
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#6 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by nadhasudha »

Radhika108,

There is an excellent book called Carnatic fun task tic by Vidwan K. N. Shashikiran which comes with an MP3 CD with 5 hours of lessons.

This book is a good primer on the basics of voice training for aspiring students. Plenty of vocal exercises not restricted to the Varisais and alankaarams only. There are briga exercises and so much more.

One point I mentioned in my earlier post about practising akaaram first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is because the voice is well rested overnight and hence ready for a good workout after sufficient warm up. If not able to do first thing in the morning, aim to rest the voice before a major practise session especially when starting out. Otherwise voice can get strained.

Thenpaanan also makes very valid points. You have to see what your goal is and work towards it.

Aim for progress not perfection.

msakella
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#7 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by msakella »

Dear sister-member, radhika108,

After working as a Lecturer in violin & Principal for 35 yrs. in the Govt. Music colleges of Andhra Pradesh and having accompanied hundreds of artistes on Violin for more than 40 years, only in 2001, having given up my artiste-life, I could realise that I was the best teacher of the very bad lot having very sincerely followed many other teachers who have very successfully been following the most illogical methods in teaching music in a much elongated system wasting the aspirants’ invaluable time, energy and money. Very importantly, then only, I could realise that it is not at all healthy to follow any method in teaching music unless it is proved with some logical base. Almost all these details I have already brought in my hundreds of posts of this forum, mostly, in the Beginners Q & A – Learning Area. Interested persons in getting the logical answers could very well go through them. amsharma/msakella

radhika108
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#8 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by radhika108 »

Thanks for all the replies. Appreciate it!

msakella
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#9 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by msakella »

To tell the fact, all our Karnataka musicians are very poor in their efficiency in vocal when compared with their northern counter parts as they all mostly follow the tradition only but not logic at all.

If you are truly interested in these details please go through AMS-Shankara Aditya sings different exercises & Gatis with Metronome-159-
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... RC7ejO9y-6 and the respective details. amsharma/msakella

nadhasudha
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#10 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by nadhasudha »

msakella wrote: 11 Jan 2022, 07:38 To tell the fact, all our Karnataka musicians are very poor in their efficiency in vocal when compared with their northern counter parts as they all mostly follow the tradition only but not logic at all.

If you are truly interested in these details please go through AMS-Shankara Aditya sings different exercises & Gatis with Metronome-159-
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... RC7ejO9y-6 and the respective details. amsharma/msakella
Unfortunately, I would have to agree on this. The carnatic music training methodology is focussed more towards compositions and mastering manodharmam aspects but emphasis on vocal training and proficiency is not given much importance. This is something that needs to be emphasized and trained from the very beginning. The tone, pitch and clarity of the voice are of utmost importance and many of our vocal musicians and teachers do not pay attention to these aspects.

Here is a sample of Kaushiki Chakraborty demonstrating her vocal prowess which I am sure has come after a lot of saadhakam. Just amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK8p-uauh5o

msakella
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#11 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by msakella »

Yes dear, I fully agree with you. I have listened to the excellent bit of the above youtube demonstration. To arrive at such level I have prescribed 16 kinds of vocal exercises to be practised in all the AvivAdi-mElas very strictly along with Metronome (which our KarnAtak musicians generally hate to) starting from 50 bpm (beats per minute) as per their ability going up to 120 bpm or even higher as demonstrated in the following link. amsharma/msakella
AMS-Shankara Aditya sings different exercises & Gatis with Metronome-135-
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... RC7ejO9y-6

RSR
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#12 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by RSR »

about p-10
@nadhasudha
Respected Madam,
I think, CM vocalists , past and present, had the right perspective about their music. Their focus ,was on the lyrical compositions of our inspired composers, ever since the times of Annamacharya , Purandaradasa and the Trinity. Rightly so .... on the Saahithyam as Kruthi.
-
The famed ARI pattern gave them the right structure for a concert. The concert had both saahithyam and manodharma improvisation, but improvisation- creativity was reflected in aalaap, swarams ,niraval and in viruttham. only and when we study the time-stamp of the concerts - being placed in public domain by dedicated team like Naadabrungha, we find the a typical concert had a dozen kruthis- mostly by the Trinity . Some of those kruthis had brief aalaap.
RTP was just a concession to the experts....a throwback to pre-trinity durbar music, ..invariably followed by light-classical pieces, ..and even there, they were devotional.
--
Most kruthis of the Trinity are in the normal octave. ..especially, those of Sri.MD. that too of slow tempo. At best, the sancharam need to reach notes in higher octave ,only in aalaap and not in the kruthi[/.
--
The emphasis in HM is entirely different. Their music , in the pure form, is melody-oriented rather than lyric-oriented. Ragam elaboration from the middle notes of low octave, through middle-octave and into the the middle of high octave and beyond, is their accepted norm, in a very leisurely pace. So, naturally, they aim to cover three octaves with purity of sruthi.
-
They try to bring out the emotional appeal , not through the saahithyam but through the melody itself.
-
The CM teachers, past and present are on the right track. How the disciples perform , depends on so many other factors- less on the method of teaching and learning but above all, the god-given voice quality, innate musical - sense of melody and rhythm, proper understanding of the aims of CM of the TRINITY, mind-set, environment, duration of intense training, ---well to remember that , the gurukula system meant atleast 10 years of learning at the feet of
the guru, ... and so on.
-
Unlike Instrumental music, vocal music has many stages. raw, young, mature, tired, and finally, mute...like the 'seven ages of man'.. portrayed in lovely lines by the Bard of Avon. As age advances, vidwath grows but throat falters.

The solution then might be to start the training very early, around the sixth year, have methodical training for over 20 years, learn as many kruthis as possible with due attention to Telugu and Sanskrit, learn violin / veeNa too, never to participate in competitions, till the Guru permits. and be a rasika first and musician next. ..listening to the great wealth of recordings available in the web now, ..
-
Can Carnatic music be learned by College-degree? we can have doctorate in musicology but never in vocal music. No amount of training and practice can convert every char-coal stub into diamond , though diamond is but coal.
-
divine voice- absolutely effortless purity of sruthi- is God-given. exemplified by the music of NCV.
-
This applies to any field ..be it, Literature, Science or Arts.
Study of scriptures does not make a mystic.
.
Study of musicology does not make a musician.
-
Practice , unless pre-ordained by Divine Grace, will not give us perfection.
Even TNR did not aim to cover 2.5 octaves. Not necessary. The octave range yardstick is an import from alien-western genre.
-
this , a perception of a lay-listener.

nadhasudha
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#13 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by nadhasudha »

msakella wrote: 12 Jan 2022, 07:42 Yes dear, I fully agree with you. I have listened to the excellent bit of the above youtube demonstration. To arrive at such level I have prescribed 16 kinds of vocal exercises to be practised in all the AvivAdi-mElas very strictly along with Metronome (which our KarnAtak musicians generally hate to) starting from 50 bpm (beats per minute) as per their ability going up to 120 bpm or even higher as demonstrated in the following link.
amsharma/msakella
AMS-Shankara Aditya sings different exercises & Gatis with Metronome-135-
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... RC7ejO9y-6
Very good training Akella ji. I am sure he will blossom into a good singer and musician.

nadhasudha
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#14 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by nadhasudha »

RSR wrote: 12 Jan 2022, 11:43 about p-10
@nadhasudha
Respected Madam,
I think, CM vocalists , past and present, had the right perspective about their music. Their focus ,was on the lyrical compositions of our inspired composers, ever since the times of Annamacharya , Purandaradasa and the Trinity. Rightly so .... on the Saahithyam as Kruthi.
-
The famed ARI pattern gave them the right structure for a concert. The concert had both saahithyam and manodharma improvisation, but improvisation- creativity was reflected in aalaap, swarams ,niraval and in viruttham. only and when we study the time-stamp of the concerts - being placed in public domain by dedicated team like Naadabrungha, we find the a typical concert had a dozen kruthis- mostly by the Trinity . Some of those kruthis had brief aalaap.
RTP was just a concession to the experts....a throwback to pre-trinity durbar music, ..invariably followed by light-classical pieces, ..and even there, they were devotional.
--
Most kruthis of the Trinity are in the normal octave. ..especially, those of Sri.MD. that too of slow tempo. At best, the sancharam need to reach notes in higher octave ,only in aalaap and not in the kruthi[/.
--
The emphasis in HM is entirely different. Their music , in the pure form, is melody-oriented rather than lyric-oriented. Ragam elaboration from the middle notes of low octave, through middle-octave and into the the middle of high octave and beyond, is their accepted norm, in a very leisurely pace. So, naturally, they aim to cover three octaves with purity of sruthi.
-
They try to bring out the emotional appeal , not through the saahithyam but through the melody itself.
-
The CM teachers, past and present are on the right track. How the disciples perform , depends on so many other factors- less on the method of teaching and learning but above all, the god-given voice quality, innate musical - sense of melody and rhythm, proper understanding of the aims of CM of the TRINITY, mind-set, environment, duration of intense training, ---well to remember that , the gurukula system meant atleast 10 years of learning at the feet of
the guru, ... and so on.
-
Unlike Instrumental music, vocal music has many stages. raw, young, mature, tired, and finally, mute...like the 'seven ages of man'.. portrayed in lovely lines by the Bard of Avon. As age advances, vidwath grows but throat falters.

The solution then might be to start the training very early, around the sixth year, have methodical training for over 20 years, learn as many kruthis as possible with due attention to Telugu and Sanskrit, learn violin / veeNa too, never to participate in competitions, till the Guru permits. and be a rasika first and musician next. ..listening to the great wealth of recordings available in the web now, ..
-
Can Carnatic music be learned by College-degree? we can have doctorate in musicology but never in vocal music. No amount of training and practice can convert every char-coal stub into diamond , though diamond is but coal.
-
divine voice- absolutely effortless purity of sruthi- is God-given. exemplified by the music of NCV.
-
This applies to any field ..be it, Literature, Science or Arts.
Study of scriptures does not make a mystic.
.
Study of musicology does not make a musician.
-
Practice , unless pre-ordained by Divine Grace, will not give us perfection.
Even TNR did not aim to cover 2.5 octaves. Not necessary. The octave range yardstick is an import from alien-western genre.
-
this , a perception of a lay-listener.
Proper Akaara technique is not only for range development, but also for good tone, pitch and clarity which is very much essential for all vocal musicians whether they are carnatic or hindustani. Quite a few of our carnatic musicians have improper vocal techniques and although their musical ideas are good, because the instrument (voice) is not well trained with correct techniques, their music falls short of having the desired effect. The training on proper vocal techniques needs to start right from the varisais and basics and teachers need to emphasize 2 aspects while training students - the voice as an instrument - how to train it and learning the music.

thenpaanan
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#15 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by thenpaanan »

nadhasudha wrote: 13 Jan 2022, 02:00

Proper Akaara technique is not only for range development, but also for good tone, pitch and clarity which is very much essential for all vocal musicians whether they are carnatic or hindustani. Quite a few of our carnatic musicians have improper vocal techniques and although their musical ideas are good, because the instrument (voice) is not well trained with correct techniques, their music falls short of having the desired effect. The training on proper vocal techniques needs to start right from the varisais and basics and teachers need to emphasize 2 aspects while training students - the voice as an instrument - how to train it and learning the music.
Indeed. There is a certain circular logic to many of our practices. We do something which limits us and then we say "that is good enough". I've heard many elders say "why do you need to do more, why can't you do what everyone else has done so far?" But that is the mark of an amateur. No professional would ever say that they don't need to improve the way they use their instrument of choice. They might quibble on certain side elements like pronunciation but given a chance to improve their basics such as strength of voice or range, no professional would refuse the opportunity to learn.

For all the talk to the contrary, this spirit of inventiveness characterizes the great composers and musicians -- they are not satisfied with the ordinary, they constantly try new things or cross previous boundaries. All the great composers were iconoclasts in some way. And in the process they make the unusual acceptable. The rest of us merely follow.

So, we should all listen to Sarma garu. I might not agree with the specifics of his method but he and I are of one spirit. We have to examine and question everything, and leave no stone unturned in our pursuit. Perfection is not the goal, the journey is.

-T

RSR
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#16 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by RSR »

Let me confine myself to famous vocalists of the past generations... GNB did not have any formal training. Smt.DKP likewise. Smt.MS -ditto-.
Smt.NCV though said to have been trained by ' a Harikatha accompanist, burst into the music world amazingly. Flute Mali ( though not a vocalist) was entirely, self-taught. Their music stands apart. and they were all top-level performers.
-
Smt.DKP, in her presidential address in the Music Academy, declared that she did not have any formal training in the accepted methods. All the great vocalists, have emphasized the importance of listening to great kruthi-singing of masters, and singing simpler kruthis by themselves in the early phase of their training, along with formal step-by-step training. ..
-
.It is like learning a language. ..and essay-writing. We learned the basic grammar and our teachers then insisted that we start reading the advanced classics by ourselves and learn to write about them in our own language. In a way, the primary objecive should be to create rasikathvam' .
-
In any field, training alone cannot create great performers., though it may help marginally. Students emerge as exceptional by their own natural endowment. not so much by any teacher, The best teachers just give the basics and then the innate talent takes over. ... There
are thousands of language-pundits -lecturers and professors....and literally lakhs of students in higher -learning but how many poets among them? how many can express themselves clearly without bloomers? how many can really appreciate good literature? Are all 'pundits', poets? It is just humility on the part of exceptional performers to attribute their achievements to their 'guru'. What set apart the trail-blazers was not so much their spirit of revolt...rather, it was their re-assertion of the spirit of the art, dulled by wrong interpretation of what they perceived to be tradition. It was not 'rebellion' or even 'reform' but just 're-assertion' and 'discovery rather than invention. ........ That applies to the realm of religion and philosophy. too.
All 'perceived rebels' are actually 'real and die-hard traditionalists' !...they just re-discover the suppressed and concealed finer values of the past and propagate them.
-
Even in cine field, famous singers were all self-taught. The aim is just to teach the grammar to as many as possible in the hope that it may be the fount of some talented souls , purely accidental. For every grand achiever, we have thousands of 'also-ran' s.

This is not to reject conventional training but emphasize the innate inspiration of the learners. The best teachers ignite the spark .
It is the duty of the best teachers, to open the minds of their wards to the best in the respective field. rather than merely harping on the grammar.
..
Perhaps, this is what our venerable guru also is saying , in his own way.

msakella
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#17 Re: Akaara sadhakam - how long how much?

Post by msakella »

Believe it or not, in 2001, after my retirement in 1996, I have been blessed by the Almighty by the logical method in learning (not teaching) music and since then I have very strictly been following this very successfully with amazing results in which, for vocal students, I very rarely sing for less than 5% and initiate the student work more than 95% and learn on his own. In the same manner even for violin student, I very rarely play violin for less than 5% and initiate the student work more than 95% and learn on his own. It is not that easy to do in this manner to any music-teacher. amshrama/msakella

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