Chilla – Extreme Practice!

I recently learned about this method of practising your instrument from my friend and amazing flautist, Kshitij Saxena (who has been a faculty at Muziclub and has played flute in my band Alif's song – Ikebana). Here is what related Wikipedia section says:

In Music[edit]

A practice similar to chilla-nashini is also performed by “Hindustani classical music” practitioners at an advanced level. It is known as simply “chilla”. The musicians lock themselves up in a special room (chilla-khana) for forty days and practice their instrument severely. Special diet (often omitting meat and grains) is taken during this period (very little food is taken).Any contact to the outside world is avoided during this period.People try not to fall asleep at any cost, if necessary they will tie their hair to a noose at the ceiling. It is done to achieve a very high level of skill, that cannot be achieved due to normal regular practice. The chilla details may differ from family (Gharana) to family.

Kshitij has followed this for his flute practice. But a version which is more practical than tying your hair to the ceiling!

You start with 3 days of “going underground”, where you switch off your mobile and all other distracting devices, and just concentrate on practising your instrument for 12-14 hours a day. Your routine can look something like this:

  • 5am – Wake up
  • 5am to 8am – Practice
  • 8am to 9am – Exercise (For sitting in one place will make you unfit and lazy. So stay fit. Plus as a requirement to the Chilla practice, you need to be celibate during this period. No masturbating as well! So you need to spend all the energy somewhere right? Ahem..)
  • 9am to 10am – Bath/Breakfast
  • 10am to 2pm – Practice
  • 2pm to 3pm – Lunch
  • 3pm to 9pm – Practice
  • 9pm to 10pm – Dinner
  • 11pm to 5pm – Sleep

That is 13 Hours of practice! I have just taken a random example. You can squeeze in more hours by reducing your eating/sleeping times.

Once you can successfully go through 3 days of this routine, increase it to 5 days. Then to 11 Days. Then to 21 days. And so on, till you reach 40 days. You can even try doing the 5 days or 11 days period twice in a row to gain more confidence to go to next level.

Kshitij has “gone underground” for 11 days twice! It requires immense willpower to do this. But I am sure anyone who goes through this rigorous practice schedule will emerge a master of his/her instrument.

I am going to try doing at least the 3 days thing once. Try. Someday. Yes.

This article is contributed by Hardik Vaghela, Co-Founder of Muziclub and Alif.

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