Saturday, December 30, 2006

Discovering Indian Classical Music

Ever since I was a child, music has played an integral part of my life. I never compartmentalized myself to liking a specific genre or language of music. I always immersed myself in different genres; be it alternative, reggae, rap, rock, pop, R&B, Hindi, Arabic, or even Tamil/Telugu (yes my early A.R Rahman days). Being that music was very important in my life, I joined the school choir. I just loved singing and listening to music. Here I was exploring/listening to different types of music but still not finding a home; a genre that I could completely identify myself with. Until one day, my father took me to Pandit ShivKumar Sharma’s concert—I think I was 8 or9 then. I was mesmerized! Indian classical music was completely new to me in the sense that I never sat down and listened to it unless it was being played in the background during one of our parties but then at that age, I was busy playing the Rainbow Brite game that we kids made up. I was always envious of the kids who actually took private singing lessons…SA NI DHA PA was cool but I don’t really know why I never got my parents to enroll me in such things. Hmm…

Since this concert, I was always intrigued by this genre but never really gave much attention to it until one day, way into college, a few friends of mine told me that I should take singing seriously. I always considered myself a fantastic bathroom singer because I’d sing the best in my shower…the vibrations, the water running made everything sound perfect. When my friends told me that I should really think of it seriously, I actually kept it in the back of mind that when I finish the semester, I’m going to start taking lessons. Of course that never came about until one day my mother had gone to someone’s house and had met a lady who teaches Indian classical music in WESTCHESTER!!! My total dream was coming true.

A few days later, I met the lady and believe it or not, not only did she have an amazing voice, she’s is one of Pandit Jasraj’s disciples, one of my favorite and extremely famous Indian classical vocalists!! Not only was I excited to be able to fulfill one of my wishes of training in Indian classical music, but also to learn and be a part of the same gharana (school) that my guru was part of! I will never forget the night I met my guru in person for the very first time. Not only was he humble and funny, this 70 year old man didn’t treat me any different from his immediate students, his disciples. According to the school the relation between him and me was now established as me being his grand-daughter. Pandit Jasraj-ji was now my GURU NANA! How awesome and sweet is that! As I train by the day, I feel that I am finally connecting to a genre that not only is guiding me to develop a wide vocal range, but is also helping me to musically connect myself to different moods.

All I’d like to say is that I’m truly grateful to my parents for having them introduce me to this genre of music and in a way introduce me to myself.

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