● Since every word in the eternal Nityalila in Vraja is a song, Kirtan is the topmost of all Bhakti practices. It is the means and the goal both. Kirtan is either of the Holy Names (Nam) or the Pastimes (Lila) of the Lord.
● Harmonium is a must, as it very closely replicates our voice. Thus it exponentially increases the blissful remembrance and revelations during Kirtan. We know that Kirtan does not compulsorily depend on a Harmonium, but it is our humble recommendation to do Kirtan with it as much as possible. Because it facilitates and reveals the most intense and deepest remembrances in Kirtan.
● In earlier times, Kirtan was done by the topmost realized Kirtaniyas. So Harmonium and speakers were not required, as the pure sound of their divine voices were enough. But nowadays, we may not have that highest quality of sound vibrations ourselves. So the Harmonium is a must in our humble opinion, as it greatly enhances our remembrance of what we are singing or listening. Rest is your choice, to accept my recommendation or not.
● Those who don’t have the music sense to directly start playing any Kirtan tune on the Harmonium by listening to it, can simply learn and memorize the sequence of the Harmonium keys to press for a particular tune or tunes and then sing along with that.
● The Harmoniums with rich, sweet, deep, sweet, vibrating, and loud tones; not with high-treble sharp superficial casio-like tones; should be used in Kirtan. Sometimes costly premium Harmoniums may have suppressed sounds too. Whereas, normal $200 small harmoniums may have a more resonating and louder sound. It all depends on the reeds, wood, and other materials used in them and also their craftsmanship. So ideally, try to listen to its sound and see if your remembrance is increased or not before buying it.
● Kirtan of prayers and pastime-songs is especially very effective in triggering our remembrance, in addition to the Kirtan of only the Holy Names. I personally get even more remembrance in this Rupa or Lila Kirtan than Nam Kirtan. But that is just a personal choice, as Nam also contains all the infinite pastimes of the Lord: krishnera samagra lila name vidyamana …
● One can listen to recordings of Kirtans, sung especially by realized Kirtaniyas, sing along with them, and play the harmonium too if possible. Or simply listen to them without singing or playing.
● If possible, most importantly, one should always try to sing Kirtan into a mic and hear it with a speaker or earphones. Because the listening volume matters a lot in drowning us deep into the Kirtan sound bliss. We have to fill our ears with transcendental sound for it to percolate to our souls. So the earphones or speakers are the greatest boon. Why to add a slight touch of reverb and bass? Reverb and bass have that unique characteristic to magnify the original blissful remembrance of the Kirtaniya into an all-pervading and all-enveloping sound.
● Listening to Kirtan on high-quality speakers or earphones even while singing it, with just enough (not too much) reverb and bass, tremendously enhances our remembrance.
● Mridanga is the best, if it is possible to play it, as it makes our soul dance in Kirtan with the topmost bliss. But we should still do Kirtan even if playing a Mridanga is not possible, rather than not do Kirtan at all. Mridanga becomes even more necessary when Kirtan is done in bigger groups to capture the minds of the listeners and especially make them dance with its sweet beats and tempo. When we sing Kirtan alone, we can play the Harmonium (more recommended as it is much more comfortable to play for a longer time) or Mridanga.
● The sounds of the karatals, bells, and other instruments should not be so loud that they drown the primary sound of our voice, in a way that we can’t focus on it. Too many instruments should not be used also, as they may suppress the sound of our voice. Otherwise, it is not pure Kirtan at all.
● Kirtan should not be sung with focus only on the tune, rhythm or melody; just to make it externally “attractive” to impress others, or to amass fame, followers, money, etc. Our 99% focus should be on what we are remembering about the Lord during Kirtan and only 1% on the tune. Otherwise, again, it is not pure Kirtan at all.
● Dancing in Kirtan is wonderful but it is optional, as the soul can dance internally in Kirtan also. Dancing should be internalized with remembrance even if we dance externally. Dancing should not be just to show others, otherwise it will take our remembrance away from the sound of the Kirtan. Remember the snake charmer praising Haridasa’s dancing but beating up the brahmana who danced just to show off to others. So again, that is not pure Kirtan.
● One’s eyes can be closed or open in Kirtan.
● One can do Kirtan alone, in a small group, or in a congregation; both indoors and outdoors.
● One can sit, stand, or be in any posture while playing the Harmonium or while singing or listening to Kirtan.
● Kirtan can be done by people of all ages, genders, and races in all bodily conditions; with or without bathing; and at any time during the day or night . Kirtan is in fact the very bathing of our soul (sarvatma snapanam). The fruits and results of all other spiritual practices are relished at the time of Kirtan remembrance.
● Kirtan is often neglected in comparison to Japa, even though Kirtan is much more powerful in pleasing the Lord than even Japa. One does not need to compulsorily follow any rigid daily quantity, rule, or vow to do Kirtan. So basically no one is restricted to do Kirtan. Though a daily Kirtan vow would theoretically be even more beneficial than our Japa vow in attaining Hare Krishna Rasa. Harinam Chintamani states that: sankhya madhye kichu nama karibe kirtana, which means that we should try to take some Names from our daily Japa vow in Kirtan, to establish some daily discipline in our daily Kirtan-sankhya also.