Teaching Techniques & Philosophies
Sitar lessons at the Academy are offered under the guidance of sitar maestro Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, lovingly known as Ustadji by his students. Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan has dedicated considerable time and energy during the past decade in training young students in India, the US, the UK, and Canada. While traveling in North America, he is joined by students from around the world who seek the opportunity to attend his concerts and to participate in a series of unique sitar workshops and sitar lessons exploring the traditions and performance of Indian Classical Music. His students include musicians of all levels, ages, nationalities and religions. Learning sitar under Ustadji is an experience that is both traditional and innovative. Ustadji is a strong proponent of the ancient tradition of ustad-shagird/guru-shishya parampara, which is the oral transmission of music from teacher to student. In this tradition, the student immerses him or herself in the company of the guru for an extended period of time, observing the guru's actions, watching how the guru explains, sings and plays his music.
This immersion is necessary for the student to absorb the essence of the music and the light of his or her ustad/guru. Ustadji proudly upholds this ancient tradition, yet has found new and innovative ways to practice it in the contemporary world through sitar lessons at The Academy. Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan presents his students with musical and spiritual challenges of ever increasing difficulty as they spend more time with him and become familiar with his taleem or teachings. Ustadji's tiered approach is reflected in the four learning formats for sitar lessons: online lessons, sitar workshops, riyaz sessions and shibirs. Some students begin by attending one or more sitar workshops which are usually conducted on a one on one basis. Others like the comfort of being at home and starting with a few personalized online Skype lessons. To appreciate the full experience of learning Indian Classical music, students also have the opportunity to participate in any number of relatively more intense riyaz sessions and shibirs.
Sitar workshops are generally a few hours long. At these sitar lessons, Ustadji teaches a small amount of material focused on specific musical challenges facing each student or group of students. Observers are also welcome; in fact, Ustadji encourages students to listen in on others' sitar lessons.
Riyaz is the Persian word corresponding to practice (in English) or repetition (in French). As in any classical tradition, riyaz is the essential foundation without which the student will never improve. During these sessions, Ustadji focuses on the basics of how to properly do riyaz. Through rigorous, extended practice sessions students are taught discipline and dedication.Sargam
(scales) and other exercises strengthen both the right and left hands and dramatically improve tonal clarity. Every student leaves these sessions with a renewed sense of how to practice sitar properly at home, with a firmer foundation for learning sitar, and is better prepared for future learning challenges.
A shibir is much more than a sitar lesson or a sitar workshop; it is a learning experience both essential and unforgettable for any student of Indian Classical Music. Students leave the world behind to focus solely on music for three uninterrupted days with Ustadji. Musicians of all levels are present, yet each student comes away with an uncanny sense that the lessons were contoured to their specific musical and spiritual needs. At shibirs, students eat at least one meal together every day and even mundane things become a part of the learning process. At most shibirs there are generally three levels of students, roughly beginner, intermediate and advanced (sometimes with a special group of very advanced
students) who will normally work on one theme raga. Occasionally the shibir will be conducted as a guru purnima and each student or small group of students will prepare a raga specially selected for them to perform for Ustadji. Perhaps the most deeply rewarding part of the shibir is the opportunity to hear the master live and breathe his tradition in a setting where he can be moved by the rhythms beating at its heart—a rhythm unbroken by the deadening dictates of clock time. The highlights are impromptu performances by the guru that reach even beyond his mastery in the concert hall. The shibir will have a profound and lasting effect on the student's appreciation for and understanding of this music.
Online Study Sessions
BENEFITS OF LEARNING ONLINE:
High quality learning experience with personalized instruction
Learn in the comfort of your own home
Save traveling costs and time
And best of all - Skype is free. Download it at www.skype.com
WHAT YOU NEED:
A computer with an internet connection
(High-speed connection recommended but not required)
Webcam (High-def. recommended but not required)
Speaker or Headphones
Microphone (internal or external)
STUDY WITH USTADJI
Gain access to one of the finest sitar masters in the world and schedule an individual session with Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan
Learning Session range from 45 to 60 minutes
Cost per Session: $105 US
STUDY WITH ONE OF USTADJI'S TRUSTED DISCIPLES
Learning Sessions range from 45 to 60 minutes
Cost per Session: $50 US
"During skype lessons with Ustadji I forget that I’m in a different country. He is just as observant and inspiring a teacher online as he is in person. I end up with an ocean of material and a heart full of inspiration within a session that passes by in the blink of an eye. Skype lessons are an important part of my learning experience with Ustadji because I get to learn from him more often regardless of where I am in the world!"
Ipshita Kamal, SPK student from Ottawa, ON
"As a student who usually sees Ustadji in person whenever he is in town, I didn’t think I’d even need skype lessons, much less have the opportunity to try them. But then, I happened to be in India for two months, during which time Ustadji was in the US! I set up a skype lesson, and even with a lousy 2g connection to the internet, I was able to have a great lesson! I highly recommend skype lessons – besides the fact that they mean quality, one-on-one instruction with one of the greatest living sitar players, they are a great way to stay connected so the student’s progress and growth are maintained. It’s definitely the next best thing to being in front of ustadji in person! Try it, you’ll never regret it!"
Avichal Jha, SPK student from Phoenix, AZ