Networked Learning Project Post #1

My assistant and I checking the hardware. We have no idea how to tune them.

My assistant and I checking the hardware.    We have no idea how to tune them.

Before we were married, my wife and I spent a year traveling through Northern India. Towards the end of the trip I purchased the beautiful drums you see in the photo. They are called tabla, and are the most difficult instrument I’ve ever tried to play. However, even harder than playing tabla, is tuning them. During our trip, I did take some informal lessons here and there to pick up basics that I could continue to practice on my own, but what I completely forgot to learn was drum maintenance of any kind. Back home on my own, my attempts at tuning of course resulted in a broken drum head. This was almost ten years ago, and though I did search online for help then, there wasn’t much available. Well, it’s time for round two.

My graduate course has challenged us to learn something that we’ve always wanted to know how to do. First, I will learn how to tune the drums which are still intact (pictured). Second, I must learn to identify the correct pitch of my drums when they are in tune. Individual tabla have one pitch to be in tune, if your song doesn’t match your drum’s pitch, you’ll need a different drum. For my grand finale, I will reskin and tune my third drum, the head of which I broke so many years back. It will lay in its pile of camel hide straps no longer!

Make one look like the other.

Make one look like the other.

Yet, there is a catch to this assignment. We may only use free online resources, like YouTube and online forums, for instruction to achieve our goals. After just a quick browse, I came across many excellent tutorials and forums that were nowhere to be found my first time around. My primary source for tuning goes by the name of John Boswell. With such resources I’m certain this goal will be attainable in the allotted four week period. Also, for some extra motivation, my son has fallen in love with music and drums and is very keen to see the third drum fixed. I’m pretty sure he will not tolerate failure.

One thought on “Networked Learning Project Post #1

  1. This is an awesome project! I always love to see people pick up those long since forgotten relics of former lives (I attempted to learn my father’s old electric guitar last year) and attempt to make them a part of their current lives. Besides having an excellent assistant that looks just about ready to handle anything, you’ve got a good start be identifying a few resources and sharing the link to John’s YouTube channel. I’ll be curious to see if you can hit all three of your goals, but by no means would it be a failure if you didn’t. I’d say just the first two goals alone are worthy of the learning project; then again, tuning isn’t my forte so that’s always impressive to me.

    This project seems very “do-able” and should make for some brief video “check ins” as I fully expect to hear some songs coming from these drums from both you and your son 🙂


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