Tabla is the most popular and highly developed percussion instrument in India. In the hands of a tabla master it is capable of producing a wide range of sounds from slippery bass to singing high tones and fast flurries, and rhythms from slow grooves to shimmering rolls, in many kinds of music from Indian classical sitar accompaniment and tabla solo to dance hall fusion.
For the learner of tabla it is an extremely satisfying instrument. The sounds and rhythms are so enjoyable to create and, at the same time, practising tabla is a kind of meditation, developing one's powers of concentration and engaging the left and right sides of the brain in complimentary patterns. It's good physical exercise too. The scope for improvement and discovery is endless.
Shen Flindell first studied tabla in 1994 under Sri Debu Bhattacharya in Melbourne, Australia before heading to the holy city of Varanasi in India to learn from Pandit Kaviraj Ashutosh ("Ashu Babu") Bhattacharya, a senior disciple of the great Pandit Kanthe Maharaj of the Banaras Gharana (Varanasi style). Shen was lucky enough to take lessons from this great Guru of tabla for 10 years before he passed away at the age of 86 in February 2004. His was a very traditional style of teaching music, emphasising clarity of notes and quality of sound over speed. Since then Shen has taken lessons from his Guru-ji's sons other senior students, as well as from masters of other gharanas Pt Nayan Ghosh and Pt Suresh Talwalkar. Since 2016 Shen has been taking deeper training in the Pt. Kanthe Maharaj baaj of Benares Gharana from Pt Pooran Maharaj.
Shen brings his Guru-ji's spirit of devotion to music and great love of tabla to his concerts and lessons. He has given many Indian classical concerts with many talented artists in India, Japan and Australia. He has released 5 CDs ranging from Indian classical bansuri to Tibetan world fusion. Shen's tabla playing is noted for his sensuous bayan, strong rhythmic sense, clear bols, wide repertoire of tihais, tukaras and taals, and an emotional depth drawn from his respected Guru-ji's devotional approach to Indian classical music.
Shen is now established as Brisbane's leading tabla teacher with a wide variety of activities available for students. Most students are children in the South Asian community, taking weekly lessons in the suburbs around Brisbane. A few students (of all ages) take lessons at Shen's home in Oxley. Students have the opportunity to participate in an annual student concert on or near Guru Purnima every July. Many students are now taking exams with Pandit Ram Sahai Sangeet Vidyalaya (PRSSV), based in London, which offer exams up to A-level (year 12) equivalent. These exams (as well as those in other Indian music and dance disciplines) are recognised by Qld Studies Authority, so the exam results can be credited to students' year 12 certificates. Finally, the top students have opportunities to take accompaniment workshops with visiting Indian classical artists and to perform with the tabla group Tabla Tarrango at festivals such as Woodford Festival and Gold Coast Multicultural Festival.
Lesson Plans - Brisbane and regional areas
At first most students will take private classes of 15-30 minutes, but as they gain experience they can join other students for longer group lessons, learning to accompany and play compositions together.
CURRENT SUBURBAN CLASS SCHEDULE (330-8pm)
Mondays - Rochedale*
Tuesdays - Eight Mile Plains
Wednesdays - Gold Coast (Ashmore)
Thursdays - Bridgeman Downs*
Weekdays before 3pm, Saturday mornings - Tarragindi
* These classes are near capacity, hence conditions for enrolment are stricter on timing and demonstration of commitment.
Tarragindi: $125 per calendar month or $40 per lesson
Other Brisbane suburbs: $150 per calendar month or $50 per lesson
Gold Coast: $200 for four lesson block, valid one month from first lesson in block.
Under the calendar month system, payment is due at the start of the month. Students are encouraged to attend multiple lessons weekly and to participate in others' classes, and are guaranteed 4 regular weekly lessons per month as scheduling permits.