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Developing your Dhol playing skill

Have you ever watched an exceptional performer and thought “wow that’s amazing, how do they make it look so easy?” It could be a musician, a drummer, a footballer, an actor it doesn’t matter what the skill is, what matters is the level they’re performing at - it catches your attention and makes you want to do what they do.


When you think about it, there’s two ways to look at someone that’s reached the professional level in their field – have they got a god given talent? Or have they learned it as part of a process that anyone can do?


The honest and most realistic answer to that question is that it’s a bit of both. Not all of us are born to be performers or high-end professionals in our field but each of as the ability to learn, develop and improve through practice and reach whatever level we focus on. If done properly it could enable you to live your dreams & vision, but how do we practice in order to live the life & dreams that we want.


The question then becomes for that the bit of Dhol-velopment that’s in our control “What is game changing practice? What do I need to do to become the best given my ability?”


It’s said that people are rewarded in public for what they practice in private.

Before we answer that question let’s think about what it takes to learn a skill like playing the Dhol (Panjabi Drum).

  1. You play what you play and you think it’s good

  2. You hear something new, you are now aware of it and you like it

  3. If you have a teacher, he or she breaks it down for you (on a sheet or into a series of simple strikes). You try to piece it together

  4. Eventually you can play it to a competent/good level


These simple 4 stages are characterised in this ‘competence cycle’


Let’s be clear about something - the good level at the end of the cycle is not mastery, far from it. Think about it, just because you can drive a car, doesn’t make you a world class race car driver like Lewis Hamilton or just because you can kick & curl a ball does not make you David Beckham. Now the good competent level could be enough for you, but what if it isn’t?


What if you aspire to reach a higher level? Then this highlights the level that separates amateurs from professionals - Mastery. Once you have the rhythm and you can play it to a competent/good level, how do you get to mastery?

At Dhol Collective none of the senior players (including me) claim to be masters, we are aspiring to that level. We aspire to it through good FAT practice to grow our skills.


What is FAT Practice?

Focus = having a clear focus or goal for your practice is important. We use the 5S model to help you pick an area to focus your practice on, for example are you going to work on Structure, Speed, Strength, Stamina or Swing. Have a hunter like focus in your practice and you’ll grow your skill bit by bit


Attitude = You can either be negative about practice or be positive – it makes all the difference (in practice & life!!). Being negative means you can’t be bothered, you make excuses, you think it’s pointless and you think you’re already good enough. Being positive means you give it a 110%, you keep trying, you believe you will get better, you trust the process and you never give up.


Time = there is an obvious relationship between the amount of time you practice and how much you will improve. If you don’t practice or practice very little you will not get better. If you take responsibility and you take action you will get better – simples!

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