4 things I learnt from Snatam Kaur’s Beginner’s Harmonium, Mantra & Kirtan course

Gemma Bliss playing the harmonium

The thing that first drew me to kundalini yoga was the music… So when I discovered Snatam Kaur was offering an online Beginner’s Harmonium, Mantra & Kirtan course via her Kirtan & Kundalini school, I praised the Zoom era for granting us access to our most treasured teachers. Then I went down to Southall in London and bought myself a harmonium.

The 12-week course was WONDERFUL – enriching, supportive and generous. I cannot recommend it highly enough. We learned three mantras – the Mool Mantra, Mangala Charn Mantra and Chattr Chakkr Varti – with four weeks spent on each. When I say learned, I mean BASKED in. Snatam and her team shared stories and unique interpretations, inviting us into a deeper relationship with each of the mantras. The four weeks was ample time to learn the mantras, correct pronunciation, rhythm and keys. Here’s what I learnt from the course:

Pronunciation and meaning is everything

It isn’t enough to memorise the words. We have to really feel them. When we feel them, we convey that feeling through our singing and playing. In the course, we spent a lot of time on correct pronunciation, and on exploring the meaning of the words and the mantras. My relationship to Chattr Chakkr Varti before this course is very different to my relationship to it now!

The rhythm is as important as the melody

We were all keen to master the beautiful harmonies, but before we even got there, we had to master the rhythm. A shabd is like a coat in the most beautiful vivid velvet. We think the beautiful fabric – its colour, texture and weight – is the coat’s defining feature. But as important as the velvet is the cut and design of the coat. It might have arms that are way too long, or be shaped like a bin bag. The rhythm is the cut or shape of the shabd. It is as important as the fabric in creating something beautiful.

Practise, practise, practise

For the Beginner’s Harmonium, Mantra & Kirtan course, we had to practise every day, even if just for 11 minutes. The vocal practice is also important. My voice is still a bit creaky around the high notes, but I’m getting there slowly but surely with a daily practice, and enjoying the journey very much.

Snatam’s Kirtan & Kundalini School is wonderful

It really is. It’s a beautiful community of like-hearted souls, many of whom join Snatam and her husband Sopurkh’s weekly yoga, meditation and mantra classes. I loved the way they taught the Beginner’s Harmonium, Mantra & Kirtan course. Sat Tara supported us generously and sweetly every step of the way. She has a real compassion for beginner tortoises like me. Thank you for a beautiful experience – and PLEASE teach us the next level!

Sat nam! x

ps keep an eye on their Kirtan & Kundalini website or sign up to their newsletters for updates on upcoming courses.

3 years ago