Pandit Divyang Vakil (known as Guruji, or “respected teacher”) is a tabla and rhythm guru renowned for his teaching excellence. In his expansive teaching career of over 35 years, he has produced innumerable music professionals. After performing for many years with stalwarts of Indian classical music and dance, he gave up his performing career to dedicate himself to his teaching and spiritual commitments.
Pandit Vakil is not only a mentor but also sincere well-wisher of his students. With his knowledge of music and kinship with philosophy and spirituality, he teaches not only the practical aspects of tabla, but also the spiritual aspects of the art. He fully immerses himself in the process of teaching, understanding each of his students on a personal level as he guides them in their musical journey. No compromise is permitted when it comes to the musical progression and advancement of the student. Balancing the traditional guru-shishya parampara with modern society, he has developed his own teaching pedagogy for tabla for today’s student and has expanded beyond tabla to teach the depths and secrets of rhythm to performers of other percussion instruments.
He draws on his formal training from great maestros of not one, but three gharanas: the late Pandit Sudhirkumar Saxena (Ajrada Gharana), the late Ustad Latif Ahmed Khan (Delhi Gharana) and the late Ustad Allarakha (Punjab Gharana) in his teaching, in addition to teaching own modern rendition of classical tabla and Indian rhythm concepts.
Tabla and Rhythm Instruction in INDIA
Tabla and Rhythm Instruction in US
A prolific rhythm expert, Pandit Divyang Vakil’s work as a composer extends well beyond tabla. As a tabla composer, he has given shape to a contemporary form of classical tabla playing though his body of work that numbers in the tens of thousands of compositions. His work flows with the sound of modern music, while retaining the classical essence and richness of the tabla tradition. As a rhythm composer, he has created works for a variety of instruments including African djembe, Korean janggu, drumkit, zen tambour, dholak, and more.
He has worked on several music and dance projects as a composer, including a collaboration with Kerala martial art form of Kalaripayattu. His latest work for dance is for Pradhanica – a kathak dance and world drums ensemble, where he composed music for Indian rhythms for the djembe, cajon, and tabla.
As a rhythm innovator, Vakil’s work not only includes composition, but revitalization and invention. Seeing how he was responsible for modernizing classical tabla playing, at the request of Korean percussionists, he has done similar work for the janggu – creating new rhythm structures to expand the repertoire for the instrument, all while respecting the traditional modes of playing. Experiments have included modifying the actual drum to create new sounds, increasing its’ vocabulary.