Film, TV, Art & Music

Why I chose to play the tabla

Get energised with the tabla Photo source:

Tabla is a fascinating instrument that was invented in the 18th century by a percussionist named Amir Khusru, who was asked to create a subtle instrument to associate with the new style of music known as Khayal.

It comes from a Persian/Arabic word meaning ‘Imagination’; it allows the performer greater freedom of expression. Khayal was also invented by Amir Khusru, he also invented the Sitar, Tarana and the Sufi music of qawwali that took place in the heart of Delhi at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah.

The Tabla consists of two drums known as the Dahina and the Bayan. The Bayan was originally made of clay, but now it is made of metal (copper, steel or brass), and it is completely hollowed to increase percussion. The Dahina is made of seasoned hardwood and is not hollowed to decrease percussion. In India, Tabla costs 3000 rupees, but a professional Tabla can cost up to 15,000 rupees.

Can you believe that the Tabla is a modern twist on an ancient rhythmic instrument that might have been 5000 years old? It’s true that this ancient instrument was a part of the world where civilization started. It is considered to be the oldest musical tradition.

Why is Tabla mostly played while Dancing?              

Did you know that Tabla is mostly played with Kathak? The unique thing about Tabla is that we can change the sound, scale and much more. There are many beats that we can play on the Tabla, and it can be played with everything. Tabla is played in most of the Indian songs in movies and makes a marvellous companion for dancing and singing.

That’s me, playing the Tabla.

Why I started learning Tabla?  

The most important thing about Tabla is to enjoy it and that’s why I started the Tabla. One day at school, during my music class, I saw some seniors playing the Tabla and they looked so exuberant. Their smiles were so contagious that I couldn’t help but ask my music teacher at school if I could give it a try. And at the moment he said yes, I tried playing it and I could feel the same powerful positive energy flow through me.

When I got back home, I asked my music tutor, Mr Dhirender Kataria, if he could teach me the Tabla, to which he answered, “Tabla is about patience and practice and if you promise to practise regularly, I’ll be delighted to teach you.” I promised him that I would and he started teaching me. It has been four years since I started Tabla and also appeared for many exams. These exams are of classical music from the Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad. I recently gave this exam and passed with flying colours.

The ‘God of Tabla’ – Ustad Zakir Hussain. Photo credit:

What are the idols that I look up to?

As a Tabla player, I look up to Ustad Zakir Hussain. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988 and the Padma Bhushan in 2002. Both these awards were given by the Government of India presented by President Abdul Kalam. Ustad Zakir Hussain is also known as the ‘God of Tabla’. But the fastest solo Tabla player in the world is Ustad Tafu Khan in the beat Teen Tal. These are some of the idols I look up to, along with my music teacher Mr Dhirender Kataria; he plays many different classical instruments like the sitar, Tabla, piano and much more.

chords sheet on piano tiles
Explore different types of musical instruments. Photo by Pixabay on

Exploring different types of Instruments

Along with the Tabla, I have also been learning different types of musical instruments such as the classical keyboard, the western piano, and even singing. I realised that learning these musical instruments has helped me increase my mental strength, as when I play an instrument or sing, music clears my mind. That’s why it is said we should start our day by playing music or even singing.

Language of the Gods

Music is to considered to be the language of the gods as it helps us receive spiritual guidance. It is written in the Bhagwat Gita that the people used to play music to the Gods to please them. Bhagwat Gita is also known as the song of God. Music is a language more profound than words. Great music does not just make us feel good; it has the power to unfold mysterious meanings and truths that is objectively true but cannot be translated into words.

What do I enjoy about Tabla?

The best thing about learning to play the Tabla is that it has helped me to be more confident while trying to match the beats, which I play the piano in and in which I sing. It has also helped me to remain calm and think patiently. Tabla has also helped me to realise that music connects us with our innermost thoughts and helps us connect with ourselves and everyone else.

Advay Khetan

Contributor: Advay Khetan

About our Writing Program Student
Advay is an 8th grader, studying in Delhi Public School, Faridabad.
He enjoys playing basketball, reading and playing the piano.
He is enthusiastic about marine creatures and space.


Tabla: Drums of North India

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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