Music is the purest form of expression, the oldest art form that humanity has been gifted with. Music makes an indispensable part of any social gathering, be it marriage, death, anniversary or just a get-together of friends. There is something so magical about music that every soul on the planet has some form of music close to their heart.
My life started in a simple middle-income house. I was a day-dreamer in school who could sit and observe simple things for hours. Early exposure to music was typical ingredients of Bollywood and folk music on the radio. After trying my hand at painting, my musical journey began at the Springdales School where I happen to take up music as extra-curricular activity. My parents were rather surprised when school’s music teacher told them about my gift with music as I hail from Haryana we never had a musician in our family. They thought it was just a fling and I’d get on to the regular professions in time. What started with just having fun with Sitar, Guitar, Bass and eventually Keyboards turned out to be more serious than even I had expected.
The socio-cultural exposure to music was just a stimulus for me to dig deeper. In the absence of good teachers, which is still a hard find even in a metropolitan city like Delhi, I relied on natural musical instincts to play with bands from 7 long years (1991-98). I was finally guided to some good teachers by friends who believed in my gifts. Starting formal education in music at 19 was little disappointing and intimidating in the beginning, it felt like I had already missed the train. How I wishes I had formal training in my early years once I realized what I was missing. The next phase was 4 years of practice like there was no tomorrow. I did not force myself to do 8 – 10 hours of practice, it felt natural to spend time making music. I jumped at every opportunity to perform, participate in workshops, play for International artists that used to visit Delhi School of Music for concerts, and even page turn for these pianists. I was curious and hungry for knowledge irrespective of the genre of music. I played Rock, Jazz, Classical, Bollywood and everything I could get my hands on.
Soon I stood at the crucial crossroads of life where college years were over, and I had to pick a profession. I had finished a higher diploma in software engineering and was making a great headway in music. I had a scholarship from Berkley College of Music (Boston) but not quite enough money to actually make it to US. I decided to stick to my game and take a dive into the world of music. I had to teach to pay my bills and played anywhere and everywhere I got a chance. Music books were my major expenses and my bike got me pretty much around all of Delhi teaching privately. These years I performed with many bands such as Saga, Nirvana (Delhi based rock band formed 1885), Aarth, Popcorn Peanuts, BlueFunk apart from my solo piano performances wherever opportunity allowed.
In 2002, I found myself in company of some cool guys who wanted to start a music school with me. Suddenly I was going to be a founding director of a music school and I realized I had not taken any formal exams in music. Hence, I signed up for Grade 8 in Piano. Although it was my first exam, I was playing well beyond the level as per my teachers, yet they abandoned me at that crucial stage. I anyway manage the exam and started my first music School in 2002. One thing led to another and couple of years down I had done 5 years on Tabla, 2 years on Karnatic Vocals, jammed with jazz bands from Chicago, performed for the President of India with AoChuch Ensemble and list carries on. I researched on Kodaly education system and authored a series of music textbooks for school education system. This somehow never took off seriously due to lack of trained musicians to sustain the project in schools. After helping hundreds of students who did not know how to nurture their musical talents, I started Bridge Music Academy in 2009 with a vision to provide international standard music education right here in New Delhi, India. It is a pursuit that will outlive me, but I believe I have started something that talented musicians will appreciate for times to come. As they say “Talent without knowledge is like a boat on a dry land.” Talent needs direction, a correct perspective, a guiding light that will help them pursue their dreams and eventually find their sound.
To me, Music Education is not a profession but a cause. It is something that needs to be instilled into our education system in schools, so our children grow up to be artists at heart. People who value humanity over systems that divide our society. Individuals that appreciate arts at deeper level that would appreciate and demand music beyond what film industry currently has to offer. I am very fortunate to be a founding member and currently vice-president of Western Music Education Association, which is working exactly to make this dream a reality. We are working hard for the cause and I am certain India will prove to be a great place for professional musicians in times to come.
I currently divide my time teaching senior musicians at Bridge Music Academy and working for RSL Awards (Rockschool) as the Country Manager and Director for India. I am honoured to be associated with ROLAND as their brand ambassador for Keyboards and Pianos and love my commitment to Western Music Education Association to help bring quality music education to our future generations.