Here’s an honest confession — every one of us as parents have dreams, desires and aspirations. It all right to want our kids to become happy doing exactly what they want for themselves, however no parent could deny nurturing fantasies for their kids – which he or she hopes will be fulfilled someday.
I have always wanted my kids, child Naman, 12, and kid Mannat, eight, to receive the excellent gift of music. I’ve always wanted these to be associated with the beautiful universe of sound, rhythm, music, through musical tools or even the vocal or dance mediums.
Today both the kids sing and play tunes (whilst receiving training in classical music) and also have performed at prestigious platforms, across various genres — from Sufi to bhajans to ghazals and Hindi film numbers. Apart from the grace of God I feel this is caused by their hard work – and since our entire family has been employed as a team to make things happen.
There’s a saying by the smart writer and poet Kahlil Gibran I keep reminding myself of — “Children came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Children aren’t our possessions. They are people in their own right, you cannot throw or throw upon them what you believe is right. However, that should not stop you from attempting to ‘influence’ them should you feel a new interest or a fire discovered will improve their own lives. The urge to do anything must emanate from inside these, but every parent I feel must try at times to kindle the fire, ignite the spark.
It started quite by chance – while still cleaning the attic in the home – I chanced upon a harmonium I’d like to perform as a child. Remembering the few (three to four years) I’d spent studying to play the instrument (after which it accumulated dust) I felt sad to see this beautiful work of art lying unused and undesirable, and that too in a household where art and education had always been invited. I remember how much parental support and advice I’d received from my parents, especially my mother, and how sad she was when I stopped my music training.
My son was all of four decades afterward — too young to learn, I thought. But expect awakened, and a couple of days later I met his guru-to-be, Jitender Nirala, a music teacher at a school in Dwarka, that had visited our house for a prayer service. As soon as I asked him to teach my son, his first question was whether the little boy could be curious. Much to my disappointment, even when we asked Naman, he refused to entertain such ideas.
However, Nirala had a suggestion — that I should first begin training to ensure my son could be prompted to take up singing.
The kids with their ‘guruji’ Jitender Nirala . (Sourced)
Though this thought seemed somewhat strange I wanted to give it a try. Soon, I had been singing bhajans — memorising almost 20 of these, gradually losing trust as my child paid no interest to what I had been doing and could be busy working round the house, playing. However, I persevered and interestingly, it had been while I had been practising the 21st bhajan he walked around me without as far as batting an eyelid said:”I could play it better.”
There’s been no turning back.
My experience taught me that there’s 100% truth in the statement — kids follow exactly what parents “do” rather than what they “state”. At that time, I had been expecting my second child and still feel because of all of the music about us, Mannat’s musical travel magically started before she even physically entered the world.
Today music is as integral part of both the children’s lives. Only another day Naman went for a zonal competition and won the prize. He also Mannat have both performed at the Dilli Haat amphitheatre at Janakpuri and at the Radhakrishnan Auditorium and also for many other school competitions.
Nirala additionally introduced the kids with their classical music coach who we address as Bhawna “ji”. She’s trained in Hindustani classical music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya at New Delhi and requires classes twice a week. So, together with Nirala, the kids have three days of training per week.
I think this discipline has given them the confidence to participate eagerly in competitions – from public speaking, to quiz and dramatics, aside from being routine with their professors. So far, I have seen that those that are exposed to fine arts are common in all from professors to interpersonal connections to behaviour and treatment of others. They are proven to be frequently both sensible and sensitive.
Another individual that has played an important part in developing their fire is my mother. She encourages them to do their riyaaz regularly and makes certain they have rehearsed well before a performance.
Request Mannat about her favorite performance and she says, ” It was through the monsoon once I staged ‘Jhooti mooti mitwa aawan bole’ in the movie Rudali with my brother playing the harmonium and it really drizzled.”
Music is comfort. It helps him “cool” and can be really a stress buster, thanks to this very calming classical ragas. He resembles his riyaaz to unwind after a busy day.
“Classical music is a favorite as that is a foundation for all music. In addition, I love to sing bhajans, Hindi and Hindi movie songs. After studying classical I feel I will sing all genres better since I have more control. My favorite ragas differ based on my moods but I still enjoy raag Shankara and Vrindavani Sarang a great deal,” he adds.
Anyone interested in classical music cannot enhance one’s performance without riyaaz — and it’s as important as revision of English, science and maths subjects, which you can not improve one’s performance in class,” feels Naman. He does riyaaz three to four times per week “although I wish I can do it more frequently,” he says.
Naman feels lucky to have obtained the “best professionals possible who allow me to feel comfortable and I really enjoy singing with them.”
An unforgettable performance because of him was Delhi’s Air Force Auditorium where he sang a bhajan with his guruji, Nirala, playing the tabla.
In addition, I feel music has helped the kids develop finer sensibilities — they could love a fantastic piece and shun numbers which are too dull or loud.
The author is an independent writer.