‘Come. Drum. Be One’ with Pune’s Taal Inc.
Having been introduced to drums in school, Varun pursued drumming as an active hobby from a very young age. In 2004, he began working on building this hobby into something tangible and meaningful. The early ideas included a music school and a band. But that didn’t satisfy him. Somewhere in his subconscious mind he knew that his knowledge of psychology could be integrated into this process. How exactly – he would discover only a few years later.
In 2008, with a mission to bring rhythm back into peoples’ lives, and to bring out their true potential through the arts, Varun founded Taal Inc in Pune. His best friend Janak Vadgama came on-board.
Varun says, “Our lifestyle today revolves around aspects that make our natural connection to the arts and nature weaker and weaker. This means that art is separate of the self. This in turn, means that we are not singing, drumming, dancing and painting as much as we should to facilitate a healthy self expression, active participation and group activity. This is indirectly the cause of multiple stress-related issues. Through rhythm, music and the participative arts, Taal Inc is giving a platform to people and breaking the audience and performer barrier.”
Varun’s goal is to stimulate peoples’ senses so they can uncover their innate connection with nature – our true ‘guru’ – to spread joy and peace by reducing stress and emphasizing the importance of healthy and harmonious living.
To achieve this, Taal Inc. offers a variety of activities. DRUM CIRCLES, an experience of recreational music making and community building through rhythm and catharsis. This informal drumming activity is done in a large group that is gender and age agnostic. People jointly experience rhythm and learn to get in tune with each other and themselves. The end product is a collective voice, born from individual sounds. Varun calls it a “stress buster, a great way to meet like-minded people and an opportunity to reconnect with your inner rhythm.”
A Day In The Life Of Taal Inc.
Taal Inc. also conducts Corporate Drum Circles leveraging the activity’s inherent team-building tendency. In these training sessions for Corporate groups, learning and development principles are called upon in a disguised and impactful manner to bring out the best in each participant.
Additionally Taal Inc. conducts djembe and drumkit classes, where students of music can gain a deeper understanding of rhythm and learn to apply it on a professional and recreational / inclusive forum. Through various other creative projects where they are able to bring the arts to people. Taal Inc. has also started a training and research center that measures, analyzes and documents arts-based influence on certain behavioural patterns with the ultimate aim to create arts-based healing. Taal Inc.’s strategy has mainly been to reach out to as many people as possible for greater impact. Drumming is an activity for all and the importance of making it relevant and significant to all participants necessitates the customization of each session.
Varun himself is a published clinical psychologist, percussionist, NLP practitioner, Drumkit player, Djembefola (player), Drum Circle facilitator and a healer (as he likes to put it). Janak handles marketing and business development for the company (but is truly a foodie, handy-man and gizmo freak at heart). “We’re a solid team. We’ve been having lunch together since the first grade,” smiles Varun.
The journey seems to have been great so far. Taal Inc.’s many significant milestones include –
- Conducting a Drum Circle in 2010 where first lady Michelle Obama participated.
- Representing India in the ‘Largest Drum circle in the World’ campaign – a global event for peace in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
- Drumming with over 28,000 people and counting, since its inception.
Taal Inc.’s future plans include launching www.learndjembeonline.com, a study resource for West African djembe drumming. Varun is also excited about making percussion instruments out of junk at affordable prices, a project called Taal Inc Junk. His plans also include setting up an ashram for rhythm and arts.
How did he make all of this happen? Varun says, “Be honest to yourself and those around you. Be flexible, like water, rolling with the punches because every experience is one that facilitates growth, and keep it simple.”
Varun will be in Mexico in March, taking an exam to become India’s first TTM (Tam Tam Mandingue, Mamady Keita’s school) certified teacher.
Taal Inc. Rhythm Ensemble at Shisha Cafe