Monday, August 5, 2013

"The life I love is makin' music with my friends"

Seek and ye shall find

         Huzzah! I have landed an internship with the Hyderabad Western Music Foundation. After following several leads, I ended up finding one of the most amazingly wonderful facilities I have ever seen. Lamakaan is described as an "inclusive cultural space that promotes and presents the best of the arts, literature, theatre, debate and dialogue." There is a little canteen with lunch and tea available, and lovely places to sit and chat. In addition to the classroom I will be teaching in, there is also an outside performance area with a large stage!  Check em' out:

        I just so happen to arrive at Lamakaan on the last day of a six week music theory and composition workshop. Mikhail, a young man of Indian decent who is studying in Chicago, delivered a general overview and introduction to the world of western music. The students were so attentive and enthusiastic, and their ages ranged from twelve to seventy. The class size was originally about thirty students, and by the end of the program there only about twelve. This is common with music classes like this, and I could tell that the twelve remaining students were very dedicated and focused.

        After observing the class and speaking with the students and Mikhail, I have decided to give my own brief introduction to music and then begin with ear training. I have been told that Indian academic culture is very reliant on assessment. So (like my guru Dr. Roland Carter) I will likely give weekly ear training quizzes. Pitch, interval and chord identification and dictation will help the students to conceptualize music in the western way. Most important to me though is what the students want out of the course, so I plan to have lots of in class discussions and workshops.

       Speaking of studying music, I attended my first session with my music guru Dr. Raja (Raja means King in Hindi. Two Kings discussing music, I love it) . We are still refining exactly what it is we plan to cover in our two semesters together, however, he has had students like me before and there are several paths we may take. Professor Raja is less concerned with teaching me mechanical nuances and instrumental technique. Instead, he and I are going to dive deep into the theory, history and culture behind the music of both Hinduistani and Carnatic music. The title of the course will be,  "An introduction to the nature and characteristics of Hinduistani "Shastriya Sangeet" (which loosely translates to "book of musical truths").

    I confessed to Dr. Raja that I have already been teaching myself how to play sitar. To which he responded with a quote from Ravi Shankar, " Your music your life." My method of self instruction has always felt more natural, although, the musical journey is not complete without other more experienced musicians who can provide an example of excellence. My guru seems very open and supportive of the idea that I teach myself while receiving as much guidance as possible along the way. Dr. Raja hails from the same lineage as Ravi Shankar, and assures me that he is a purist in regards to Hinduistani classical. I love purists, even though I am far from one myself.

  Also, I am joining the HWMF choir and jazz band! Rock n Roll.

Hugs and kisses to my friends and family back home!
Missing you,

Nathan King (Granola Raja)

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