We offer open Harmonium Workshops about 2 to 3 times per year, for beginners who would like to discover this instrument, and see if they would like to proceed forward with the learning. Also for those who play Harmonium, but learnt the wrong way, like chord-playing instead of melody, or who had lack of connection to the Indian music system (raga based, etc.)
Next open 3 hour open workshop, 11 November 2023 from 9,45AM to 12,45PM in Gossau, St. Gallen, Switzerland. Price: Fr/EUR 150. You can bring your instrument, if you don't have, Harmoniums to rent (for 20 EUR) available upon request. If you are interested to enroll or have questions, you can write to email@example.com
Manish teaches only the genuine style, from the Indian music system and with the proper Harmonium-playing technique. Note that Harmonium is an instrument from India and is played using melodies, not harmonies (Harmonies/chords may be used, one has to know how, and their presence should be very subtle.)
Also, it is important to mention that these workshops are not a "crash course" - it is impossible to learn any type of music in a fast way, specially from the east, where the musical system is different. Like any other instrument, Harmonium also needs years of learning and dedication.
Then, if the participant thinks Harmonium is the instrument he/she would like to learn, then it is suggested to take lessons with a teacher who learnt Harmonium in India with the Indian music system. Keep in mind that to correct a wrong learning will be more difficult than to learn right from the beginning.
Manish started teaching Harmonium in Europe (and before in Pune, India) as a request from his students of Indian music, Mantra singing and vocal training. Indian music is played melody-based, not chord-based and this is a key difference in being able to transmit the feel of music from India when we play Harmonium. There are elements of Ragas used in the playing. So to sing songs from India - whatever they may be - classical, folk, mantra, kirtan, etc, the adequate technique has to be developed (as well as the related feel) in order to present it gracefully.
He will teach the proper use of the instrument, in order not to develop wrong habits - posture, technique, raga, how to combine melody and chords, and how to use the Harmonium in one's own practice.
Lessons are usually one hour and happen in combination with singing - since this is the main way to use harmonium in India. Singing can be of different styles of music from India, depending on the interest of the student: popular, folk, classic, bhakti, mantra, kirtan, etc. Many students want to learn only mantra singing, other prefer classical music approach, and others devotional songs and Kirtans. So the fan is very broad and the possibilities on how to use harmonium are many.
Manish is based in Kanton St. Gallen, Switzerland where he offers individual and group lessons on a regular basis. Online lessons are available, but it is suggested to combine them with presence-lessons sporadically, if that is possible.
Manish learnt Harmonium since young age, as part of his music training. When we speak of 'professional singers' in India, we refer to musicians who have started learning maybe at 8 or 10 and continue learning for a whole lifetime with a Guru or teacher. In India one never 'completes' the learning cycle... it goes on for life and lifetimes...
The signature of Manish's teachings is authenticity and staying connected to the source.
Innovation is good, but right-basis should be properly passed, as in any tradition.
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ABOUT THE INSTRUMENT
Harmonium is a musical instrument that was birthed in Europe, then died, and was reborn in India. The harmonium was invented in the West (with a different design than the Indian Harmonium) but today largely resides in the East, particularly in the Indian subcontinent.
While the instrument largely disappeared from Europe after 1980s, it remained an essential part of some Scandinavian bands. Other than that, the European harmonium is now basically extinct, only to be found in antique shops, museums, and in the homes of collectors.
With the British invasion, European Harmoniums made their way to India where they became known by Indian musicians. One such musician was Dwarkanath Ghose, whose company became a leading manufacturer of musical instruments in Kolkata. In 1875, he brought out his version of the Indian hand-Harmonium, an instrument more than half in size from the first European harmonium, because it was pumped by hand-operated bellows located at the back of the instrument instead of foot-operated ones; allowing the player to sit on the floor.
Indian musicians traditionally sat on the floor when they gave concerts, and the modified Harmonium could be played while placed on the ground.
Note that Western music is based on harmony, but Indian music on melody. Therefore it was quite feasible to pump the bellows with one hand and play the melody with the other. One did not need both hands on the keyboard. India started manufacturing its own harmoniums, and by 1915, had become the world’s leading producer of the instruments.
In the pre-Harmonium days, Indian vocalists would be accompanied by musicians playing the Sarangi. Though said to approximate the human voice, the Sarangi was technically extremely difficult to master and needed extensive re-tuning for each Raga - then the Harmonium began to replace the Sarangi as the instrument of choice to accompany vocalists.
The Harmonium had other good points: without a doubt it was easier to master than the Sarangi or the Veena; it was excellent for group singing, loud enough for the drone to fill a concert hall, and it became the key instrument in teaching students the rudiments of music and song. Hindu and Sikh groups quickly adopted it for their devotional music (bhajans, kirtan, dhun, shabads...) using Tabla or Dholak for the rhythms, and eventually, Sufi singers also adopted it in their performances.
Whereas Western music is based on a fundamental diatonic scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B, or, Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti) and a repeated octave, Indian classical music uses a seven note movable scale (Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni) and additionally employs semitones as well as inflections smaller than a semitone - so the European Harmonium was improved and adapted better to Indian music, producing an instrument that can generate the required microtone by providing knobs positioned below the keys, the pulling of which activates additional reeds.
Musicians from India devote eight to twelve hours of the day to the practice of the different rhythms, improvising on them. In the end, they produce a psychological effect that is not music but magic, a magic that can thrill a person and penetrate his heart. It is a dream, a meditation, it is paradise. By hearing it one feels in a different world. Yet the music is hardly audible. instead of playing before thousands of people, only one or two or three persons of the same quality and nature must be together to enjoy that music thoroughly. If a foreign element is present, the musician does not feel inspired.
"Since the popularity of Mantras in the west, many people’s interest has increased in learning and playing Harmonium along with Mantras and Kirtans. But since I am living in Europe, I've observed that basically no one is teaching the correct technique of harmonium playing. It is because most had a very basic training with harmonium and have no knowledge of the Indian music system and how to use it to accompany the singing." MANISH VYAS
Manish Vyas offers genuine and correct approach to learn harmonium. His methodology and approach to the essence of the instrument in Indian music will help the student to learn the art of fluent harmonium playing, which combines the playing style of India, yet accessible to the western musical-ear. He teaches Ragas, the Indian music system and its systematic exercises will make harmonium learning smooth.
Multi instrumentalist, composer and singer Manish has been playing harmonium since the age of 10 and along with his training in tabla and singing, his harmonium skills flourished over the years. For a long period, he was the leader of the Kirtan band at Osho Commune International.
A hand-pumped harmonium has hand bellows that blow the air. It is used in music of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan and otheŗ asian countries. In a hand-pumped harmonium only one hand can be used - and this is ok because a melody is played using the fingers of one hand as Indian music is melody music. It is used as an accompanying instrument in classical Hindustani music, Sufi music, bhajan singing, devotional songs and a variety of genres.
Indian classical music has 7 basic notes (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni), with five interspersed half-notes, resulting in a 12-note scale - S, r, R, g, G, m, M, P, d, D, n, N - the base frequency of the scale is not fixed, and inter-tonal gaps may also vary.
"Music is a vast subject. There is mathematics and grammar in music. Unless one knows all of it, he cannot become good singer. One should learn music for 15 years before actually trying their hands at singing ghazals." Jagjit Singh
"How one deals with rhythm shows one's confidence in Indian music. So we have fun ways to practice the different aspects that will make the student knowledgeable of the indian music system as a whole."
BUYING A HARMONIUM 'MADE IN INDIA'
with excellence of quality and trust
If you would like to buy an instrument for your lessons, or to practice, Manish offers harmoniums which he selectively brings from India. He carefully chooses the model according to the student or the player. He has been working in this field during 25 years - when he was teaching tabla and harmonium to western tourists in India.
Just write to us with any question !
Thank you so much for this intensive, beautiful harmonium day. For me, it was like two weeks squeezed in 4 hours :-) You shard so much knowledge, for me I only can practice a little of all this in a day... its like learning a complete new language far away from my tribe... but deep down in my cells there must be a memory with the joy of this Indian music... thank you. Love. C. (Switzerland)
Thank you so much for the workshop yesterday, it was awesome, I'm so glad I was able to attend, I learned so much and it really cemented some stuff in. I love sharing with others, so it was really great to meet everyone. H. (Austria)
After this wonderful mantra-harmonium-workshop today, I really want to get some lessons from Manish, to improve my harmonium-playing some more. H. (Switzerland)
Thank you so much for an incredible first time for me to play any musical instrument ! I am totally elated and savoured and still revelling in every second of such a beautiful and enriching face to face gathering. I love my new harmonium and everything we did today. Thank for all you do to make these gatherings happen and to you Manish for your transmissions that speak so clearly and directly to my heart and now to my fingers ! A. (UK)
Dear Manish, this is exactly what I'm looking for - to learn to play the harmonium in a traditional Indian way - it is really a deep wish to learn the Eastern style. M. (Germany)