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Bhakti Breakfast Club in 22 countries!

  posted by Daniel on April 24th, 2013

The global kirtan community is in full effect! Chanting truly is spreading like wildfire, as more and more folks discover this sweet musical practice for awakening the heart.

Why do I think it's taking over the globe? Well, I recently looked at the list of countries where Bhakti Breakfast Club members hail from, and counted 22 countries represented! (United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Brazil, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, Trinidad, Japan, Greece, Norway, Israel, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Belgium)

This really excited me. I love the sense of global sangha that we are developing more now than ever before. Those who are inclined towards a musical form of awakening can access it easily now, without needing to travel to a distant land. People are falling in love with kirtan for many reasons. It awakens the heart. It awakens the voice. And it opens us up and makes us available to bond in sacred community, as we all sing, dance, and pray together. That kind of community we crave, even if we didn't know we craved it. Kirtan community ki Jai!

Bhakti Breakfast Club in 22 countries!

Click to browse the kirtan music courses in the Bhakti Breakfast Club.

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Bhakti Breakfast Club goes live!

  posted by Daniel on February 19th, 2013

I am so excited to announce the launch of the new Bhakti Breakfast Club website!

The Bhakti Breakfast Club is a place for folks to learn to play harmonium, online. It is a giant library of instructional videos on how to play harmonium, taking a harmonium student from square one, through to playing whole kirtan songs on harmonium. Right now we are filming and adding about ten courses a month. Later this year we'll branch out into mridanga, kartals, guitar and other music classes, all with a focus on kirtan music.

Check out the "browse all courses" page to see what the different courses look like.

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Beginning Harmonium Intensive at Kripalu

  posted by Daniel on September 24th, 2012

Here's a glimpse of last week's "Beginning Harmonium Intensive" at Kripalu Yoga, a beautiful retreat center in the berkshire mountains of Massachusetts.

The workshop is for kirtan lovers who want to begin playing harmonium, and we cover all the musical basics necessary to do that. By the middle of the three-day intensive, we start to learn whole songs, as you can see here. I call this the "Harmonium Orchestra" phase, and it's a lot of fun.

The next Beginning Harmonium Intensive at Kripalu will be in the fall of 2013. Check the Kirtan Central events page for more information.

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Kirtronica Hare Krishna

  posted by Daniel on August 2nd, 2012

I've been listening to a lot of EDM recently (turns out, EDM stands for "Electronic Dance Music"). The beats make me get up and dance, the synthesizer sounds make me smile, and I can't help but imagine mantras being chanted on top of it all.

So, here's my first EDM-inspired kirtronica track! More to come.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare!

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Harmonium Tribute to Jackson 5

  posted by Daniel on April 20th, 2012

If I'm sitting on the floor with a harmonium in front of me, chances are I'm singing "Govinda Jaya Jaya," or "Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha," or "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna..."

But every now and then, I get the urge to re-live a favorite song from my past!

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Beep you into enlightenment

  posted by Daniel on April 16th, 2012

What if I told you that by listening to a new CD, you could become fully enlightened. For a little bit. Would you listen?

This is the promise of a genre of music called "brainwave entrainment" that sounds nothing like kirtan... yet has similarly profound effects.

I stumbled onto the "brainwave entrainment" last month upon the recommendation of my fiance's boss, who listens to such CDs each morning as his meditation routine.

Within the first week of listening, I had two profound meditation experiences, and became fascinated.

Since the 1970's, as it turns out, neuroscientists have been studying brainwaves - including those of advanced yogis and meditators. As a meditator slips into a state of profound peace and experiences harmony with her surroundings, for example, the neuroscientist observes an increase in Alpha and Theta waves being emitted from her brain.

In a separate branch of neuroscience, it was discovered that by playing two nearly-identical tones into the left and right ears, the brain struggles to integrate the two tones, producing a "binaural beat" - a pulse of effort throughout the brain at the same frequency as the difference between the two tones.

Combine these two neuro-quirks, and you discover the innate human ability to "tune in" to absolutely any brainwave frequencies, including those associated with awakened states of consciousness, by listening to simple tones separated by small intervals.

I've begun experimenting with this technology in my own music studio, with startling results. Trance can be induced, sleepiness can be induced, all based on the frequency gap of two simple tones. I can imagine the power of combining this technology with mantra-based music!

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Chant Calendar is Coming

  posted by Daniel on April 4th, 2012

Here's the current state of affairs:

"Oh! It would be fun to go to a kirtan this weekend! I wonder if any of our favorite kirtan leaders are in town?"

"Great idea! Let's find out."

(Visit KrishnaDas.com, check event calendar. He isn't coming till next month. Visit JaiUttal.com, check event calendar. He'll be here in the fall. Visit SnatamKaur.com, check event calendar. She's currently not touring, having a baby. Visit Mayapuris.com, check event calendar. They'll be coming through this summer. Visit GirishMusic.com, check event calendar. He's currently touring the other coast. Visit Kirtaniyas.com, check event calendar. They were just here last week, missed 'em. Visit DavidNewman.com, check event calendar. He's here this weekend!)

"David Newman is here this weekend, let's go!"

Here's the future state of affairs:

"Oh! It would be fun to go to a kirtan this weekend! I wonder if any of our favorite kirtan leaders are in town?"

"Great idea! Let's find out."Kirtan Central Chant Calendar

(Visit Kirtan Central's Chant Calendar, which brings the event calendars of twenty top kirtan leaders into one easy-to-search map.)

"David Newman is here this weekend, and looks like Wah! is here next Saturday!"

Coming soon...

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Hearts and Keys - Behind the scenes

  posted by Daniel on April 2nd, 2012

What could possibly inspire a person to kneel to the floor and stand up again, twelve hundred times in a single day? (That is, without being a Tibetan Buddhist monk doing rapid prayer prostrations...)

Stop motion animation! Here's some behind-the-scenes shots from my day-long adventure in meticulously setting up 1200 different shots that, when strung together, form the "Hearts and Keys" animated short film.

My favorite part of the process, was seeing the dancing harmonium and crazy screwdriver come to life in the video-editing stage. When shooting the photos in the Kirtan Central studio, these objects were perfectly still (believe it or not!). Then, by miracle of stop-motion animation, they were brought to life!

And if you haven't seen it yet, here's the final video:

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Oprah's birthday band? Snatam Kaur.

  posted by Daniel on March 14th, 2012

Oprah Winfrey is, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world. She is also, it turns out, a lover of mantra-music. This year, for the first time, we are seeing her private love of kirtan begin to appear in her public discourse.

Last month I saw a very sweet photo of Oprah visiting spiritual teacher Ram Dass in Maui. It piqued my interest, Ram Dass being a great translator of Bhakti for a wider audience. In 2008, Oprah had made 'mindfulness' a household notion by bringing spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle into the limelight for a series of live webinars, essentially teaching meditation to millions.

Would she, I wondered, bring other spiritual topics - like devotion, spiritual love, even mantras - into the discourse?

Interestingly, at her recent birthday party, Oprah gushed to her friends about her love of Snatam Kaur's devotional mantra music. They took note, and by some miracle were able to bring Snatam Kaur to Oprah's house the very next day for a private concert. Here's a link to the full article.

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Kripalu Beginning Harmonium Intensive

  posted by Daniel on March 9th, 2012

Imagine an orchestra fifty people strong.
Now, imagine a choir fifty voices strong.
And now, imagine it's the same fifty people.

Each playing one instrument, while singing.
Now if you can, imagine that their instruments... are... all...

What? That's crazy you say?

Well it may be crazy, but it's what is happening this September 14-16, 2012 at the second annual Kripalu Beginning Harmonium Intensive! I'll be at the helm, taking the group of aspiring kirtan-singing harmonium beginners through the musical basics of playing kirtan on harmonium. If it sounds like fun to you, you might be crazy, and you should visit this Kirtan Central page for more information.

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Breathing in: Mouth or nose?

  posted by Daniel on March 5th, 2012

The mouth is great for certain things - like eating, since it's equipped with teeth, a tongue, a few saliva glands and the crushing motion of the jaw. It's also a genius at drinking, because of the flexibility of the lips and the direct access to the esophagus.

The nose, however, is awful at eating. Worse at drinking. In fact, the only activity it excels at is breathing! (I know I'll get heated responses from the Guild of Nose Flute Players)

For singers, including us kirtan singers, breathing is a critical matter, since it powers the voice. The exhalation is already determined - the act of singing itself. So the big question is: Should we inhale through the nose, or the mouth?

At first glance, we might opt for mouth, because it's bigger and allows for large gulps of air. And true, there are certain situations where a quick 'catch breath' via the mouth is all there's time for. But try this: sitting as you are, open your mouth and breathe in. Notice how your whole throat gets dry? Now close your mouth. Breathe in again, this time through the nose. Not as drying, is it?

The nasal passages actually moisten, warm, and clean the air coming in before reaching your throat and lungs. As singers, we want to keep hydrated so that the vocal muscles well lubricated. Avoiding drying mouth-breathing is an important part of the picture. So when singing, and when talking, try closing your mouth for a noseward inhalation in between phrases!

(And if one of your nostrils is stuffed up, well, same with everybody else. Nobody actually has perfectly clear nostrils, but unless you've got a cold, they're clear enough for breathing!)

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