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"Learn Gurbani Kirtan" Level 1 Book, DVD, and CD by Bhai Manmohan Singh: Review

Review of Bhai Manmohan Singh's Learn Gurbani Kirtan Book DVD CD

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Cover of Learn Gurbani Kirtan

Cover of Learn Gurbani Kirtan

Photo © [S Khalsa]

The Bottom line

The Learn Gurbani Kirtan kit by Bhai Manmohan Singh effectively fulfills the promise implied in its title. The instruction booklet, DVD, and CD coordinate well enabling the student to advance step by step towards achieving the goal of singing and playing kirtan, the hymns of Gurbani. The DVD dialogue is spoken entirely in the Punjabi language without English subtitles. The DVD does however feature a drop down English insert with simple instructions communicating the essentials needed for the student to follow and master each lesson plan. Learn Gurbani Kirtan promotes proper pronunciation of Gurbani.

Pros

  • Separate English instruction booklet, Punjabi instructional DVD, and CD with Gurbani kirtan soundtrack.
  • The Punjabi based DVD displays English language insert with instructions corresponding to the 60 page lesson booklet.
  • Clear and concise, the professional quality 60 page illustrated booklet enables learning using the English language.
  • Saves money as packet includes multiple lessons and price is comparable to cost of one individual lesson.
  • Effectively communicates necessary instruction despite possible language barrier, enabling students of any age, or origin, within minutes to master simple shabads on the keyboard while singing along.

Cons

Learn Gurbani Kirtan Contents (Book Audio CD and DVD)

Learn Gurbani Kirtan Contents (Book Audio CD and DVD)

Photo © [S Khalsa]
  • DVD is of amateur quality.
  • Punjabi language is spoken exclusively on DVD.
  • No English or Panjabi translation of shabad meanings.
  • Punjabi speeches in menu section seem irrelevant to Kirtan learning process.
  • Occasional misspelled, incorrect, dropped or words displayed in subtitle insert and text.

Description

  • Learn Gurbani Kirtan
  • Authored by Bhai Manmohan Singh of San Jose, CA, USA
  • Copyright 2007
  • List Price $24.95
  • Instruction booklet, Instructional DVD, and Audio CD
  • Lessons include:
    • Voice tips.
    • Introduction to harmonium, parts and care.
    • How to read Indian classical music notation.
    • Keyboard diagram and finger positions along with 10 exercises.
    • Instructions for Gur Mantar, Mool Mantar and 10 shabads including two Raags.
  • Offered by LearnKirtan.com for $22.45 + S & H.
    Contact and ordering information:
    Bhai ManMohan Singh
    (408) 823-2865
    Po Box 25311, San Jose Ca USA 95153
    E-Mail: info@learnkirtan.com

Guide Review: "Learn Kirtan Gurbani"

Student taking lesson from Learn Gurbani Kirtan DVD with book.

Student taking lesson from Learn Gurbani Kirtan DVD with book.

Photo © [S Khalsa]

The Learn Kirtan Gurbani Level 1 kit by Bhai Manmohan Singh came neatly packaged in a plastic wrapper. I opened the kit to find an instruction booklet on the left side of the cover and the DVD, and CD nestled together on the right.

I wanted to test the effectiveness of learning process so asked a novice to join me in learning a shabad. We turned on the DVD and an English menu popped up. We found two of the selections to be speeches made in the Punjabi language without English subtitles. We also found a couple of short clips of young children singing Gurbani kirtan. Finally we selected the first in a series of lessons, where Bhai Manmanhan Singh explains the parts of the harmonium, or vaja, in Punjabi. Though we didn't understand the words, their meaning became obvious when labels appeared in the upper right hand corner and a drop down insert flashed pink letters warning, "Do not pump too much!"

We followed the English instructions and turned to the appropriate page in the booklet. The lesson progressed at an even pace so that we could easily keep on task. Indian classical music does not give notes names like middle C as in Western music. The Indian music system is similar to Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do, only notes are named Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa. Each of the keys in the exercises and lessons are labeled on the DVD to assist students in finding the starting Sa and each subsequent note. The DVD has a series of finger and voice exercises showing proper finger placement for each note. An insert designates each note, word or verse to be sung and is accompanied by music and singing on the DVD.

Lessons

The Lesson series begins with playing and singing a single note and progresses in difficulty to shabads with two parts using several notes. The final two lessons are more complex and follow classical raag. Each lesson is followed by a practice session and a notice when the lesson has ended. By the end of the lesson series, students become accomplished enough to learn most any shabad on their own thereafter, and are encouraged to share the knowledge they have acquired by teaching othes.

I found the instructions very helpful in learning on which key a syllable ought to be sung. Perhaps what most impressed me was witnessing how within minutes, my novice accomplice learned to play a shabad while singing and pronouncing Gurbani flawlessly (at least to my ear).

Bhai Manmohan Singh has been teaching kirtan in the United States since 1987. He has taught in El Sobrante, Yuba City, Stockton and currently teaches in San Jose California. He gives kirtan lessons in San Jose Gurdwara's Khalsa School classes and Gurmat Camps, as well as giving private lessons to both chilren and adults. Over the years he has developed an excellent method of teaching kirtan and has imparted his knowledge to thousands of students. He published his first kirtan booklet in 2000 and his first teaching video in 2003. Popular demand, coupled with sponsorship provided by generous donations of sangat, prompted the Learn Gurbani Kirtan project and website. Bhai Mamnohan Singh and a number of volunteers spent countless hours to bring you the Learn Gurbani Kirtan Level 1 kit which includes instructional booklet, DVD and CD.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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