How to do Riyaz?

Sharing a few tips for doing tabla riyaz, written by RS Ananda Murthy. 

How to do Riyaz?

by R. S. Ananda Murthy (

1. Try to do riyaz in a very private place where you are alone. Do not let others to come or observe your riyaz.

2. Your attitude towards your instrument has a great impact on the effectiveness of your riyaz. Do not try to conquer your instrument. Try to seek your instrument with love and respect. Riyaz is actually meditation with lot of love, respect and perseverance. Single word for all this is bhakti. So, cultivate this bhakti towards your instrument. Flow of knowledge is analogous to flow of current. Just like current that flows from higher potential point to a lower potential point, knowledge flows into you if you are humble and at a lower level than the source of knowledge. Therefore, in our tradition, we respect our Gurus and we always place them at a higher pedestal. Remember source of knowledge can be any where. It can be even a person unknown to us. This is very true in todays’s digital age.

3. Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo such that you will be able to play clearly each syllable or akshara at single speed and also at double speed. The base tempo could vary from person to person. Therefore, you need to adjust it for your self. Over a period of time, try to increase your base speed.

4. Take any basic or advanced exercise. This can be to strengthen right hand, left hand, or to develop co-ordination of both hands. Write it down. First recite it along with the metronome at single speed and also double speed. Repeat this several times. Preferably repeat this for about 10 minutes. Keeping 10 minutes duration for each exercise has been found to be very effective by many achievers.

5. You may repeat your 10 minute sessions with small breaks in between for any length of time depending upon your convenience. Try to cover all aspects of playing of your instrument during each day of your riyaz. This may be difficult if you have a very busy schedule. But still try to do this as much as possible.

6. You may try to keep a diary of your riyaz sessions to monitor your progress over a period of time.

7. When you are practicing, observe your self for any stiffness or strain in your hands, shoulders (this is very important), or in any part of your body. Strain or stiffness in the body is unique to each person. Therefore, you need to observe yourself and keep your body relaxed throughout your riyaz. While doing riyaz also observe your breath. Ensure that you are not holding your breath and that you are breathing normally in a relaxed way.

8. Note that the goals of your riyaz in the order of priority are to achieve — clarity, stamina, and speed. If you try to develop stamina – i.e., the ability to play with clarity for longer duration – speed will automatically come.