Teacher: Please sing sa re ga ma as you know it.
Me: Sa re ga ma pa da ni sa (straining a bit toward the end)
Teacher: Hmmm...you don't sound like you have classical music training, isn't it?
My music teacher is a delightful personality in his 40s who peppers each lesson with his stories and words of wisdom. We're taking classes much, much more slowly than I'd be accustomed to normally. Each day starts with 30 minutes of voice and breath training - listening to the voice both within and to the outside environment. His philosophy of nada yoga - the yoga of sound - is that your own voice eventually becomes your harmonium...after years and years of practice! He also strongly associates music and sound with healing, inner harmony and happiness.
We've had seven lessons together and thus far I've learned some basic breathing and voice techniques that Tilak (Guruji) says will help to improve my voice quality and breath over time, if practiced regularly. We've also worked on a version of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra that I hadn't heard before. I'm anxious to try it out with the harmonium and friends back home!
When talking about kirtan in India, he had the following comments - 'In India, every family sings kirtan. Before dinner, after dinner, sometimes people take dinner and then do kirtan. The whole family. Singing, dancing, being happy. You don't sing for other people, you sing to and for God. The whole family performs, and God is the audience."