FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

/FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

For tabla, we generally accept students at the age of 6. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, we offer a special private class for children under the age of 6. For kathak, we generally accept students at the age of 7.

Tabla classes are limited to a maximum of 7 students, while kathak classes are limited to 10 students. Keyboard is only offered in a private setting, while guitar classes are limited to 5 students.

Group lessons are one hour long. Private lessons can be 30 minutes or one hour.

Yes, we have in-house professional artists available for music and dance performances for private events. In addition, our sister company MELA Arts Connect has a large portfolio of artists available for performances, and workshops. For more details on our artists, see our artists page. For details on MELA Arts Connect, click here.

Learning music or dance is a lifelong journey. At Taalim, our focus is on long-term growth and development of music and dance skills. Giving a public performance can be a very beneficial experience, not just in terms gaining stage experience, but also in terms of the preparation process. At various stages in their learning, our students are have the opportunity to give public performances.  That being said, too many performances too early into one’s training can be counterproductive as the focus shifts only to the performance material, and not necessarily on developing breadth and depth in one’s music / dance skills. We strive to strike a balance in this regards, looking at each student on a case by case basis.

We have three recitals every year – Pledge for Practice recital, summer camp recital, and annual winter recital. Details on these events and recitals can be found here.

Our teaching methodology is based on the traditional guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition), which is focused on individualized training – providing the student with what (s)he needs when (s)he needs it. Teaching based off of a curriculum for a certification program does not allow for such individualized instruction. That being said, Taalim does provide personalized letters to its students for inclusion in college applications, etc. on an as needed basis testifying to the training a student has undergone.

No. Every student learns differently and adhering to a set curriculum hinders their musical growth.

Absolutely. Enrollment is ongoing for all of our classes.

No. Taalim’s teaching methodology has been developed by Pandit Divyang Vakil and is based on the guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition), which is personalized to the student. While students may be in a group setting, each person gets individual attention and instructions based on their needs. We also limit our class sizes to ensure this.

Our group classes are comprehensive and fun with the added and intentional benefit of allowing students to be exposed to different perspectives on the art as the student make-up of each class is diverse in terms of physical and musical age, and background.

Anyone can learn the art of tabla, kathak and any other Indian art form irrespective of age and heritage. Taalim faculty members like Mike Lukshis, Loren Oppenheimer, and Jin Won, are a testatment to this.

All of our classes are conducted in English and while the vocabulary for tabla and kathak is made of Indian letters, they are written in English phonetics. To learn an Indian art (or any art form for that matter), one needs determination and practice, not a shared cultural heritage.

Taalim teachers have undergone training to learn the art of teaching. Our tabla teachers in particular have been trained under Guruji – Pandit Divyang Vakil in his teaching methodology, which adapts the guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition) to modern society. All of our teachers share a similar passion for spreading the knowledge and the beauty of Indian arts.

Taalim stands for expertise, quality, accessibility, and community. Learn more about what Taalim stands for here.

We believe that every student is unique and our role is to bring out their personality through their music. Our teaching methodology, developed by Pandit Divyang Vakil, is centered on individualized training. Each student gets exercises and compositions that cater to what they need so that every student gains an awareness of the art in a way best suited to them.

Guru means teacher and guide in Hindi, while ji is suffix to confer respect. Taalim School is guided by Pandit Divyang Vakil, whom we respectfully and affectionately address as Guruji.

No. It won’t be. There will be days when you make excellent progress but there will be many days where all you do is practice and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. Often new students find these days are the hardest and they lose out hope thinking that what they are doing isn’t good enough. However, knowledge of this helps, and we urge you to continue your riyaaz and push forward in this time.

Tuning is done with a hammer and involves tightening the pudi (tabla head) to obtain a higher pitch or loosening the pudi to obtain a lower pitch. The hammer is used to hit the gatta (wooden blocks) downwards, causing the pudi to tighten, thus resulting in a higher pitch. When the gatta is hit upwards, the pudi is slightly loosened, resulting in a lower pitch. Fine-tuning is done on the gajra (the outer section of the tabla head).

Tabla is currently a male-dominated instrument, but more and more women are learning to play the instrument. Taalim is proud to have several female tabla players as teachers and team members, as well as many female tabla students.

To allow the fingers to slide around easily on the tabla, and also to get rid of any sweat on the fingertips.

We do tabla repair work, including tabla tuning, tabla stretching and replacing tabla heads. Contact the school at (732) 89 TABLA for these services.

The Taalim School of Indian Music sells high-quality tabla sets for all budgets. To buy tabla or tabla accessories (travel-cases, replacement heads, rings, etc), contact the school at (732) 89 TABLA.

There is not a simple answer for this question, because it basically depends on how much time you put into your practice, and also on your goals. Those who want to gain a basic understanding of the instrument can do so in about a year at the institute. For those who want to be fully accomplished as a tabla player, it takes many years of practice and dedication, as with any branch of the performing arts.

Yes! We appreciate your dedication to the music of India. We have numerous students who have decided to learn and practice tabla full time, and we have special programs for such individuals. Contact us for more details.

If you are interested in moving to the area to study at the Taalim School, we can help in figuring out with your living arrangements. It would be best to consult one of our faculty members, who will assist in the moving process and admission process.

Yes, you can take classes at Rhythm Riders Music Institute in Ahmedabad, India – the mother institute of Taalim School. If you are interested in studying in Ahmedabad, we can assist you in making those arrangements.

Indian drumming involves unique and rich traditions. If you are interested in learning an Indian percussion instrument other than tabla, contact us, and we may be able to arrange for you to learn from instructors of that instrument.

Taalim’s tabla instruction is based on Ajrada, Delhi, and Punjab gharana – gharanas which our Guru and guide Pandit Divyang Vakil formally studied under doyens of these lineages. In addition we teach a modern form of classical tabla playing that has been created by Panditji.