Learn Indian Music at home
I am not a musician, but I have always hankered to play the sitar simply because as a young man (now 64) I fell in love with its sound.
I purchased my instrument 10 years ago, but being unable to find a teacher, I stowed it away in storage. I wouldn’t play without instruction because I didn’t want to acquire any bad habits. I feared I would never find a teacher and had just about given up hope.
Then, miraculously, I discovered Indianmusiclessons.com online and Pandit Sanjoy Bandopadhyay. I dusted off my sitar and started lessons via SKYPE on my computer.
What a wonderful time I have had!
The lessons are challenging to say the least, requiring diligent practice as instructed, but the results are worth it! I have studied for only a year, but I can hardly believe the progress I’ve made. Of course, I’m no “pandit” by a long shot, but I truly feel natural with the instrument and can play several compositions that are part of his curriculum.
I am now moving from strictly defined compositions to improvisation; a new adventure! My technique is improving at a steady pace.
More than just technical instruction, though, Professor Bandopadhyay stresses musicianship. How the music follows specific forms, the subtleties of individual raags, Hindustani music terminology, rhythmic aspects, and other nontechnical points are all part (and maybe the most challenging part) of the instruction.
Just one anecdote of note: When I had been taking lessons for only about 2 months, my brother and sister-in-law, both accomplished classical western musicians, came for a visit. My whole life I had been listening to them perform in concerts, enjoyed their musical triumphs, basked in their musical glow. This time, however, while sitting around after dinner I appeared with my sitar and proceeded to play my little Raag Bhupali bandish, the first I had learned. Their jaws literally dropped in surprise! Really, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing and hearing. My sister-in-law decided then and there to learn to play sitar herself. My brother simply asked me how long I had been taking lessons, and when I told him, he asked how I could play as well as I did after such a short time.
“I have a great teacher,” I answered.
I am a flautist based in Adelaide, Australia. I perform in both Karnatic (South Indian) and
Hindustani (North Indian) style of music.
I was looking for a Guru to help me to get to the “next level” in Hindustani music.
I found Sanjoyda’s IML in September 2010. I was contemplating whether to learn from a flautist
or a Sitar player. It is not uncommon for a flautist to learn from a Sitar player – Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
is a well known example. But, I was not sure whether learning from Sitar player will suit me. Well, there
is a b..i..g difference in the experience of Hari ji and me!
I decided to try it out. I took two demonstration classes with Sanjoyda. I found him extremely patient,
knowledgeable and able to gauge my performance level to tailor his teaching. He emphasises on vocal approach
and he was quick to point out that if I have to go to the next level, I have to listen to vocalists.
More than just a teacher, Sanjoyda plays a role of a coach and mentor. Such traits are not commonly seen
among senior musicians.
I have learnt a full spectrum of a concert presentation in Rag Malkauns. It included alap, jod, jhala,
a jhap tal composition, followed by drut and ati-drut compositions in teen tal. This journey took around
7 months. There have been few gaps in between. It was a very enjoyable experience.
My journey has not been without obstacles. Sanjoyda provides direct feedback on the improvement areas.
He once described my komal dhaivat (the note “dha”) as “lifeless”. I am still trying to blow life into
my “dha” and expecting a miracle in future!
I have no hesitation in recommending Sanjoyda as a Guru for anyone who is keen to learn Indian music.
I have been taking lessons on-line from Sanjoyda for about a month
now. Prior to this, I have had many face-to-face lessons with
Sanjoyda and others. I was apprehensive about the process of on-line
instruction, and much to my surprise (and delight) the experience has
been a joy!
Just as with face-to-face instruction, a typical lesson would start
with me playing the sthayee-anthara of a traditional-composition from
Sanjoyda's seemingly limitless repertoire. As the lesson progresses,
he would "up" the difficulty-level with some suggestions for taans
and tihais. He might correct some phrases that do not adhere to the
raga-grammar that I just played. On occasion, I might put my
instrument down to access a file on my computer that he just sent with
customized instructions. It is almost like he is in the room with
me. Not having to leave my home to get my lessons from a really
good instructor (and educator) is an added bonus!
-Prof. R.S. Sreenivas
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Learning sitar with Sanjoyda online has been a very enjoyable and positive experience. I look forward to every
lesson and practice daily. Sanjoyda is a fantastic teacher that can direct you along the path of your musical
journey. His teachings will improve your technique, tone, and overall handling of the sitar. Sanjoyda
gives excellent guidance in understanding raag, that is appropriate to your personal playing level. He influences
and encourages me to strengthen my musical creativity, in the pursuit to make better music. Using the computer
for real time web chat is very easy and effective. I would recommend indianmusiclessons.com to anyone who is
serious about learning indian classical music from the best possible teachers. It's an incredible opportunity
to have the guidance of a real pandit at home.
~David Balaban, Vancouver, Canada
"It is completely my pleasure to be a student of IML! I think the way you informed about the online music lessons
on your website and answered my first contacts is at the same time very professional and nevertheless with a personal touch.
Immediately this gave me a very positive and trustworthy impression. My experience with the online lessons, the software
and the connection was without problems so far.
Next I also found all your mails with precise instructions and answers to my questions a perfect complement to the online
I think that Rajrupa has an excellent approach as a teacher, she is very kind and understanding but at the same time precise
and always knows immediately and exactly what I mean when I ask something, or when something is wrong. This gives me
a great confidence as a student.
So I can only say that I am always looking forward to the next lesson and I hope I will be able to go on with a reasonable
progress for a long time!"
Markus J. Weininger, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil, Tuesday, March 06, 2007
"Initially I was hesitant about learning the sitar in Real Time mode over the Internet. My concerns were to do with things
like latency, Internet reliability, time zone differences, etc. However, after taking the offer of two free lessons I
realised these were minor issues, especially when compared to the expertise and skills Professor Sanjoy Bandopadhyay has to
I would recommend this form of teaching to anyone who is serious about learning the Sitar from a true Professional.
In just a few lessons my skills and confidence has grown ten fold, I am now starting to feel like a Sitarist!"
- Mahesh Sharma, UK
“I was very impressed with my first vocal lesson. I would like to learn sitar in this method, as well as, continue the
vocal lessons--- “
- Vimal A. Keshvara, Canada
”My appreciation and respect of your teaching skills continues to grow as I feel my playing ability get stronger and more
confident with each lesson. You are revolutionizing the art of teaching.”
- Gary Pro, USA
“je suis les cours de sitar par internet donnés par le Professeur Sanjoy Bandopadhyay depuis sept mois.Mes progrès sur cet
instrument sont si importants que je souhaitais témoigner de cette formidable opportunité d'être guidé par un vrai maître
de la musique indienne.En effet la qualité des cours est remarquable: toutes les techniques et méthodes de travail sont
enseignées d'une façon systématique en fonction de notre niveau.J'ai développer un bien meilleur son sur le sitar et l'
exécution des tans s'est nettement améliorée.Cette expérience est vraiment plénifiante et je souhaite la poursuivre le plus
- Denis Jouin, France
“I have been learning to play sitar on line (through internet) for 7 months from professor Sanjoy Bandopadhyay. It is a
great experience and my playing has improved beyond my expectations. This is really a fantastic opportunity to have the
guidance from a real pandit. The teachings are deeply thought and systematically organised, according to the level of the
student. As a result, the tone, speed, clarity, and expression in my playing has improved immensely. I want to go on with
the experience as long as possible.”
- Denis Jouin, France [Translated into English by Georges Lindenmeyer]
“Thank you for lessons. It is a real pleasure to learn with you. My hands are more relaxed and speeds coming slowly.”
- Stéphane Boyersept, France
"I have managed to practice every day. I like doing the exercise now and
want to keep on going when I starts. She also tells me if I've improved
and that is also doing me good. After I have a session I feel very happy
and the whole day I'm humming and I also like my teacher."
- S. D. Bhagwandin, Netherlands [a vocal student of Rakhi Banerjee]
My experience in having a one on one music session has been very helpful to me. I started learning vocal music
when I was six years- old. I stayed with that teacher for six months however, for she moved to India and I was
too young to learn via skype. From the years 2003-20008 I learned from another teacher, but she was not one on
one so I quit. In 2008 we found Rakhi Aunty and I have been with her for the past two years.
I have found that I have improved drastically. Not only beacause it is a one on one lesson, but because Rakhi Aunty
is an extremely good teacher. If I don't get something right the first time, she helps me out patientlly until I do
get it. And she teaches me the right amount for class. I don't have way too much to learn or way too little
either. I have been requesting songs for Rakhi Aunty to teach me. She finds the lyrics, learns the tune,
and teaches it to me happily and patiently. I plan to learn from Aunty until I go to college.
- Monika Dharanipragada, age 13, New Jersey USA [a vocal student of Rakhi Banerjee]