Ten-year-old Jehan Vazifdar has been studying the violin for four years, but after a special class on Friday, he will now never tilt his bow at an awkward angle again.
Jehan had the rare opportunity to be corrected and guided by Carla Maria Rodrigues, an internationally-acclaimed violinist. Rodrigues made him realise that tilting the bow wrongly made the music sound less sharp.
Rodrigues is one of the 13 international musicians who are in Mumbai to perform for Sangat, the annual chamber music festival of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation (MMMF). Taking time off from their concert rehearsals, the artistes are also conducting coaching workshops for local students of Western classical music.
“Being in the presence of great musicians inspires young students and gives them a sense of discipline,” said Harvey de Souza, a London-based Indian violinist closely associated with Sangat from its inception fourteen years ago. “My idea was
to bring chamber music to Mumbai. Education is the main criteria, not performance,” he said.
“This was a rare opportunity. I’ll remember the tip given by the world-famous violonist,” said Vajifdar, a Class 5 student of Cathedral and John Connon School. Music teachers too have benefited from the workshops. Sushil Melville, Vajifdar’s teacher at the MMMF, accompanied all his students to the workshops with Rodrigues and de Souza in order to pick up better teaching tips.
“Lack of good teachers is a problem in a city that still does not have a strong culture of Western classical music,” said de Souza. However, Marc Neikrug, who has been taking piano workshops, has observed a universal slump in the interest towards classical music in general.
“It’s unfortunate that even Indian classical music is not being taken up by many here,” said the American pianist and composer. “Young people are too caught up with technology to have the patience for complex music.”
Neikrug believes the various languages of music can be picked up by anyone. “If you only take enough time out to commit to a form of music, it can give you so much in return,” he said.
Contrary to Neikrug’s observation, Anthony Gomes of Furtados Music, Mumbai’s leading store for musical instruments, has noted a steady rise in the sales of Western classical instruments over the years. Refusing to share sales figures, Gomes said the increased awareness of classical music is restricted by the lack of good and experienced teachers.