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how to improve voice for kirtan


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As all these beautiful suggestions have been mentioned, you still need a Guru/Ustad for sangeet (like for everything else). There’s 2 components that involved in good singing. In Indian Classical Terms, it’s Gayaki (Singing) & Raagdhaari (Expansion of Raag). I believe you’re trying to improve your tonal quality and sur/swar (pitch) so that when you do kirtan, it sounds “nice”.


So I spent 2-3 years on YouTube for tabla/singing & I ended up learning a lot of stuff….. but it was all incorrect. My foundation/base was absolutely garbage. Sound production was very weak, and physical form was bad because I had unsupervised practice. It took me so long to unlearn all the improper stuff I learned from YouTube. After spend 2-3 years with my Ustad ji ( who Maharaj sahib gave me after I prayed from Sache Dil Toh, that I am tired/done & that I want to learn kirtan from an authentic source) & getting the foundational stuff down, YouTube lessons were helpful and practically realistic in certain places. This was possible only once, my language for Gayaki (Sa re ga Ma pa dha ni) &  tabla (ta, tin, Dha, Dhin etc) were clear & sound production was stable.



Sound production is such an important topic is vocal music, which I think young learning Kirtaniye don’t focus on . Each one of the 7 notes uses a different vocal register (nasal, chest, diaphragm etc). For example, ‘Ni’ & ‘Ma’ will sound natural and better when using the Nasal Cavity. These things are categorized as “Voice Culture”, if you go to learn vocals from any legitimate place. 

So for a beginner (as a former/current beginner), these things can be overwhelming and the question is always : what do I EXACTLY do to get better ? In the gym, you can know about all the small muscle groups of back, but you only want to know how to do it proper to get big. Similarly in sangeet, in order for you to get better, you have to do sharpen each one of you tools. Look at your voice as an instrument, that you’re ‘tuning’ like a harmonium. End day goal should be, being able to sing any note at any place on the octave, in pitch just like the harmonium. That’s what they call ‘pitch perfect’. But like harmonium makers, you need to tune the first note & most important note. Shadaj a.k.a. Sa. Shadaj is combined with 2 words Shat (6 in Sanskrit ) + Aj (absorption), meaning shataj has the power to absorb 6 notes, also if we reverse the process, it can throw out 6 notes as well. This is the theory why Sa is so important. It’s literally God in terms of musical notes. Every tunes themselves to one thing (sa) when collaborating, everyone starts their singing from Sa and end at Sa (98% of the time), if someone isn’t tuned to Sa; then they’re besura (dissonance)  in context to the others. Once we spend good time on Sa understand it’s place & the body registers it. Then you find the distances of each swar from Sa. Like how far is Re from Sa, Ga from Sa etc. This was help establish “Swar Sthaathpana” (Pitch Establishment). But before all this, the easiest way to do correct riyaz with learning something wrong is, hum with Sa for 5-10 minutes, then use the vowel “eee” (it’s so much easier than AA in the beginning), after you know that you’re matching with a tanpura. You can move to “AAA” but here you have to be careful it’s produced from the diaphragm, not the throat (I had learned the throat lol). 


I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s easy, but always have the Ardas to Maharaj that give the strength to do riyaz so you can do His Keerti. All these things are some introductory things good for you to know & undertand, but the most important thing is actually doing.  It’s so much easier with a proper teacher, not just the money leeches. I’ve gone to almost every place online to learn (I’m based in California) & it’s hard to find people who actually take an interest in teaching properly. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but Raj Academy is useful if you have NO exposure whatsoever with Gurbani Sangeet & Sikhi. If you do have some; go anywhere else. Also, you need to be a little fanatic about sangeet as well. It’s the dish that we put the Naam Amrit in, so why not try to have the best one. I see folks purchasing 10,000$ beds for Sukhasan for Maharaj sahib, then why cheap out on sangeet. Meaning put in the hours to make it better quality, not spend money. 

I apologize if I confused you in any way, or if this was even useful. But the gist is, find a proper Ustad/Guru, Do Riyaz of Sa EVERDAY (even if it’s for 5 mins, you’ll build stamina slowly) & LISTEN to quality kirtan meaning sureeley legendary Kirtaniye that Sikh panth was blessed with like Bhai Samund Singh ji, Bhai Avtar Singh ji, Bhai Balbir Singh Ji etc. These maestros have spent their LIFETIMEs (not couple years/decades) on Sa & they’re Kirtan is in so much sur. Granted, some may not like the aging tonal quality, but the notes are still close to perfection.

All this came from, not this lowly sinner, but rather from Akal purakh through my Ustads,  & Convenient Coincidences (Miracles). Any misinformation that I may have written, is due to my lack of fully grasping. Take care & Riyaz on


Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh


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