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Great time to invest in music
Is this a good time to be a young classical musician?
Oh yes, there are so many concerts being held today. Things were so much quieter when we were young. And the encouraging thing is that many of these festivals present youngs artistes, there is almost a crowd of talent waiting for opportunities. I see about ten to 15 debuts a year. This is very different from the earlier generations, when it took a long time for a singer to present himself to audiences. At ITC SRA we have 40 scholars, these are musicians who have been singing for eight to ten years and can hold their own. And this isn't only in vocal music - there are young musicians learning sitar, sarod, flute, learning serious raag music with masters like Hari Prasad Chaurasia. We have promising names like Arshad Ali Khan, Suprateek Sengupta and Abir Hussain. Kaushiki Chakraborty was from the SRA.
Does the time it takes to establish yourself put the youth off classical arts?
Well, it takes a lot of time to hit the big time. After all most ustads found recognition only by around 50. This could be a cause for anxiety. And by the time you are a name across the country - and find an opportunity to showcase your talent in Delhi - you are even older. You need to wait and watch yourself.
Some young musicians believe that you should start performing younger instead of waiting to become a perfectly mature performer.
Well, it isn't till you are 18 or 20 that your voice settles. Gala theek karte karte time lagta hai (it takes time to groom the voice). And of course you can ape your guru once your voice is sorted but that isn't the idea, is it? You need to be able to say your own thing on the stage and that creative maturity takes time to come.
Do you suggest that beginners also acquire an academic degree along with their training?
I think an education gives you security as well as an edge in the field of music itself. You learn to deal better with the rest of the world, you are more savvy when you travel abroad. I and SRA itself encourage students to continue with their education. We give them leave to study or take exams. And there is no clash between becoming a good singer and an academic - you can be both.
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