“He was a gifted child for Tabla,’ says Grammy winner Sandeep Das’ Guru Pandit Shiv Kumar Singh

“Sandeep has proved his passion for learning tabla by displaying his talent on the first sitting with me as he played Taa, considered the first mantra of tabla playing"

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Sandeep Das
Sandeep Das, ( Image credits- Wikimedia commons)

Patna, 14 February, 2017: Tabla player Sandeep Das, whose collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble “Sing Me Home” won the Grammy in the World Music Album category, had a rare love and passion for playing the instrument since early childhood, revealed his first guru Pandit Shiv Kumar Singh here on Tuesday.

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“Sing Me Home”, an album which has the contribution of Sandeep Das, on Sunday won at the 59th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Das is part of Silk Road Ensemble, a collaborative effort by musician Yo-Yo Ma to bring together performers and composers from more than 20 countries.

It was Singh who taught Das the “ABCD” of playing tabla at his Sadhnapuri residence in Gardanibagh in Patna in the late 1970s when he was barely seven or eight years old.

“Sandeep Das was a gifted child to learn and play tabla. I have not seen anyone like him. When his father Kashi Nath Das, a central government employee, brought him to me to teach him how to play tabla, I was surprised when he played tabla and replicated me on the first day itself. It was a unique experience for me,” Singh, in his mid-70s, told IANS here.

Singh recalled that Das played “Taa” on tabla on the first day of training, and that impressed him.

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“Sandeep has proved his passion for learning tabla by displaying his talent on the first sitting with me as he played Taa, considered the first mantra of tabla playing. It usually takes nearly a month for anyone to do so.

“I cannot forget an extraordinary child like Sandeep, who was full of energy to learn tabla playing, an unbelievable quality in an early age,” Singh said.

Singh said he agreed to Sandeep’s father’s proposal to take him as his disciple to teach tabla playing.

“Sandeep’s father then informed me that his son used to play tabla on the table (desk) after he listened to the radio. It was something that helped me teach him tabla playing. Sandeep was regularly coming to my residence to learn playing tabla for over an hour, and sometimes I also used to visit his home to teach him.”

Singh said he discovered a great tabla player in the making in Das during the four years (1978 to 1982) when he was learning from him here. He also advised Das to move to Varanasi and became a disciple of Singh’s guru late Kishan Maharaj.

Singh said that Sandeep is in regular touch with him.

“I am a proud to be the first guru of Sandeep. But I never imagined that Sandeep would make a name in the world for playing tabla.”

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Patna is the home-town of Das, who completed his schooling from St. Xavier High School here and graduated in English Literature with the gold medal from Banaras Hindu University. Later, he moved to Delhi and from there to the US.

Das’s last performance in Patna was in June 2015 at the Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir in memory of his guru Maharaj. (IANS)