(Recently a workshop was organised at New Delhi in the first week of June 2012. Kumar Santosh has written a report on the same. I am uploading without any editing.)
Practice encompasses major role in any Performing Arts. But the practice must be done in presence of ‘GURU”. In olden days music and art were used as forms of worship and therefore the best place for its learning and practicing were found in and around temple or Guruji’s Ashram in the guidance of Guru. But in contemporary world time to live with Guruji in his Ashram is not possible. But the requirement of Guru’s guidance while practicing any art form is strongly essential now also, since correct practice can only make us perfect, which is only possible with Guru’s Guidance. Keeping this theme in mind for reviving the practice and performing capacity of pupil a six days workshop “VENU GUNJ… A Riyaaz workshop” has been organized in New Delhi by one of the North Indian Classical Flute Maestro Pt. Chetan Joshi. Pupils from six major states of North India assembled in New Delhi in the Ashram (Home) of their Guru Pt. Chetan Joshi.
The eager of practicing with Guruji made the pupil so inquisitive that their arrival at Guruji’s Ashram started one day previous the workshop date. Two disciples Lakshmi Narayan Mehta (Bihar) and Saurabh Barapatre (Madhya Pradesh) reached Guruji’s home in the morning of 31st May. Whole day both the disciples in supervision of Guruji were seriously engaged in the planning and arrangement of the Workshop.
Morning of the 1st June was bringing a new-fangled glee in pupil’s heart. All were enthusiastically waiting to meet Guruji to take his blessings. Sameer Seth and Vikash Goswami (W.B.) also arrived at Guruji’s home in the morning. Santosh Kumar (U.P.) and Ashok (Jharkhand) also reached before the evening little late afternoon, as they were expected to reach in the morning but the train clogged them to do so. Anyway before the evening of the 1st June six disciples of Guruji and one new flute learner from Delhi Gaurav were ready to join the “Riyaaz Workshop” and gathered at the venue.
Subsequent to Puja offered to God by Guruji at 7 P.M. the workshop has been inaugurated. Now that time has came all pupil were looking towards Guruji to get some surreptitious of music practice. Guruji started the workshop with Alankars in Bilawal That. But this was different; generally flutists play Shadaj by closing upper three holes of the flute. But this day Guruji told to make Shadaj by closing upper five and half holes of the flute, which normally makes Komal Dhaiwat. This leads to change the tone of the E scale flute to C scale. The Tabla machine switched on in little slow than medium tempo in Teen Taal. Initially the Laya of the alankar was one note each sixteen beat, which gradually increased till 4 notes each beat. This was weary experience for each student to play in different fingering style continuous one hour. After two minutes rest next session of Alankar in Bilawal that but in normal fingering of E scale flute has been started. In which different alankars starting from lower octaves Pancham till higher octaves Pancham has been practiced along with alankars containing Layakari like ‘3 notes out of 4 beats’, 5 notes out of 4 beat. At the last session of the first day of Riyaaz workshop, Guruji taught Raga Durga. In this melodic pentatonic raga he taught alaap, and a composition in 16 beat. Now the practice sessions of the first day were over. Disciples were very much tired after continuous three hours practice. But their faces were still glowing with a satisfaction of being in company with honorable Guruji.
Morning of the second June was planned to visit Mr. Subhash Thakur a renowned flute maker’s workshop to buy flutes. At 8 A.M. Subhas Ji came to Guruji’s place to take all of us to his workshop in his car. We all were staggered to see the bundles and bundles of flutes at one place. To chose out the perfect one for self was not easy especially among thousands of flutes. In words of Guruji “it was just like a hungry man get into five star hotels”. Everyone was busy to getting his own but actually all were confused since huge number of flutes stack. Anyway spenting more than five hours at Subhash Ji’s place every one was having a bag of flutes while returning back.
Practice sessions of second day workshop started at 7 P.M. This day two new peoples, Bhashkar Ranjan De a table player and Kamini Kanta Swain a painter also joined the workshop. This day in first session the alankar was practiced by making Komal Nishaad of normal fingering as Shadaj. Therefore different fingering again and the scale changed to D. This day again in very slow tempo of Teen Taal medium laya started like previous day session. It was strictly instructed by Guruji to not to increase laya. Every Layakari and different alankars was practiced in very slow tempo to manage the swaras at its pure place. This day in second session the alankars was played in Bhairavi that. In the third session Guruji taught Raga Malkauns composition in sixteen beat.
Third day was Sunday and all of us spent maximum time with Guruji and discussed on many different topics. After that it was planned to enjoy the day with own mood. Many of us went for marketing and few went to Lalit Kala Academy to visit painting exhibition. By 6 P.M. every one returned back to Guruji’s place and after tuning up for the music practice all were ready for the third day’s session of the workshop. This day the alankar started in Kalyan that. The process was just like previous day’s session in very slow tempo. This day Guruji instructed us to play differently. Started with one note in 4 beats we had practiced, 2 notes in 4 beat, 3 notes in 4 beat and gradually 10 notes in four beat. Many of the alankars mainly with tough Layakari was really hard to practice. This day continuously we practiced two hours nonstop. In the last session Guruji taught us a composition in Raga Hameer in 12 beats.
The first session of fourth day started with alankar making Komal Gandhar of natural fingering as Shadaj. The scale modified to G for using drone instrument. By making G as base scale different simple alankars in slow tempo like last day were practiced. After one hour in next session alankars in Kaafi that were practiced. In which different alankars based on different Layakari starting with 1 note in four beat to 12 notes in 4 beat were instructed by Guruji, which comprised of some difficult Layakari like five notes out of four beat and seven notes out of four beat were also learned by participants. Afterward, in the last session of the day Guruji started Raga Abhogi. After introducing the raga the alaap played by Guruji was mesmerizing. All were spell bound, than Guruji instructed all to play the notes after him. After Jod and Jhala Guruji started composition in Teen taal and taught each of us. While Guruji was playing Abhogi, suddenly a sensation experienced by the listeners when and how Guruji’s mood changed to Bageshwari followed by Kaafi and Bhairavi, was really a valued observe. At last on participants request Guruji performed Dadra in Bhairavi. One of the new things happens this day that a Delhi based photographer Dr. Marisha Sharma came to the venue to capture the moment of ‘Bamboo flutes gathering’ in her camera.
“Madhyam” the fifth perfect note of normal scale of north Indian flute choose as Shadaj by Guruji for alankar practice on fifth day of the workshop. After which some difficult alankars with Layakari has been instructed by Guruji for practice in that Poorvi. At the last of the sessions of the day Guruji taught Raga Poorvi. In which he played and taught alaap, Jod, followed by 16 beats composition in teen Taal.
6th June the last day of the workshop started with raga Darbari. Since many of the pupils had to leave on this day so the sessions became very short. But Darbari of this day was mesmerizing. Specially bandish “Jo guru kripa kare…”. Each word of the composition was taking us to the divinity where Guru was present to show the right path. Today Guruji had discussed many ragas closed to Darbari and also taught about the Kanhra Ang.