They Learn From The Master
In The Schools
BY DENISE SMITH AMOS
BLUE ASH - Sandip Burman, a percussionist and world
music artist, taught at
Academy Thursday, opening
the ears and minds of about 50 music students to Indian and
Asian melodies and rhythms.
Burman, who lives in
India, and in Chicago, has played with a
variety of well-known jazz and world music musicians and has
collaborated with filmmaker Tim Burton on movie soundtracks. But
on Thursday, he was part of a master class series at Ursuline,
giving a clinic on traditional Indian classical music.
He sat on the floor in the music room and
gathered the students and his semicircle of drums around him. He
said he'd show the Ursuline girls how melody and rhythm are the
Using a set of 12 tonally set drums, called tabla tarang,
Burman's hands flew, tapping out rapid melodies and slow
harmonies like a pianist on a keyboard. He often closed his eyes
and played with feeling, slowing and speeding up.
He stopped to teach the girls to sing scales, as they do in India.
For an object lesson on rhythm, Burman switched to a set of
two tabla, a small one under his right hand and a big, round one
under his left.
He got the girls to count time up to 10 beats, clapping out
certain basic rhythms as he improvised on the tabla.
He played rapidly over their clapping, often trilling his
fingers over the drums in intricate patterns. The large drum
sometimes sounded like a string bass, while the smaller treble
drum punctuated the complex rhythms of his improvisation.
He played this way while holding up his end of their
question-and-answer session and helped the students keep their
own time as they clapped.
"Inside of me there is much more intensity going on," he said
as he drummed. "I'm talking to you, keeping a seven-beat rhythm
cycle and I'm improvising.... The point is that you can do it."
He encouraged the girls to keep practicing and playing their
instruments "18 hours a day," he joked.
"Wow! That was intense," said Katie Butherus, a 16-year-old Anderson Township junior.
"I can't really keep the beat in my head that fast and keep
talking. It shows you how much effort people put into their
Added Ellean Zhang, a 14-year-old Blue Ash freshman: "It was
really cool to see this. I'd never heard Indian music before
...Your eyes aren't as open to the world unless you have
opportunities to see these things and change your world view."
Zhang, who has played piano for seven years, said she'd like
to try some of the rhythms Burman performed.
"I'll start counting in my head and thinking of him," she
Ursuline music director Carlton Monroe said he plans to hold
several other master classes this fall, with professional
musicians teaching his vocal and instrumental students.
Burman gives concerts and school clinics, teaching about
traditional Indian classical music and other forms, most often
playing on tabla.
Burman, 40, has been playing tabla and other instruments
since he was 6. His first performance in the
United States was sponsored by
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation
and Beatles guru. Burman performed at the
Museum in Los Angeles with George
Since then, he has played with fellow Indian artist Ravi
Shankar and various Eastern and Western jazz greats, he said. He
played on two Grammy-winning albums and does about 120 concerts