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 Sris Debapriya & Debabrata Bhattacharya and his other senior students including Sri Parimal Bhattacharya, Sri Govinda Chakraborty and Sri Manishankar Tripathi.
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 recoginised 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
ONE HOUR LESSONS
"Tabla Hobbyist" - One-off lessons: $75
"Tabla Student" - 4 lessons per month: $180 (+ daily practice commitment)
"Tabla Devotee" - any number of lessons per month: $360 (+ lots of practice)
HALF HOUR LESSONS
"Tabla Hobbyist" - One-off lessons: $50
"Tabla Student" - 4 lessons per month: $125 (+ daily practice commitment)
"Tabla Devotee" - any number of lessons per month: $250 (+ lots of practice)
Lessons in regional areas are possible, with additional transport fee (typically +$25/month around Brisbane).
Please contact Shen if you wish to arrange group classes.
In group classes each student will have their nominal "focus-time"
(ie 1 hour or half-hour) but can take part in other students' lessons as well.
CURRENT SUBURBAN CLASS SCHEDULE
Mondays 430-830pm - Gumdale, Rochedale, Parkinson
Tuesdays 530-9pm - Westlake
Wednesdays - Oxley
Thursdays 5-8pm - Chermside West
Fridays 4-8pm - Shailer Park, Gold Coast (Pacific Pines)
Schedule - Japan
Shen is generally in Japan for 1 month each year and visits most areas from Tokyo to Osaka.
He has students in Kyoto and Tokyo but is available for lessons wherever he wanders.
Please see Shen's Schedule for details.