In 1985, tabla maestro Allah Rakha opened a music school in Dadar’s Shivaji Park for those with a passion for the tabla. Now, 27 years later, Abbaji’s legacy is being carried forward by his son, Fazal Qureshi. Running classes in a makeshift room at Los Angeles school in Matunga, Fazal has been training students for the last two years, ever since their original space shut down for renovations.
“Now that it’s refurbished, we are working on a design that’s more conducive to learning,” says Fazal, whose wife, an interior designer herself, has helped him with the makeover. “It’s a rented place, so we can’t do much. But we’ve incorporated a stage and made space to keep instruments,” he adds.
Along with the look, the school’s curriculum is also in for a change. Other Hindustani classical instruments such as the sitar, sarod and the santoor will feature with the tabla on the timetable now.
“We’ll have short-term, intensive courses and even vocal training classes. I’m working on a syllabus that works for solo players as well as accompanists equally,” says Fazal, adding that the focus will remain on the Punjab
The 51-year-old planned to re-launch his school on Saturday to coincide with
celebrations that have taken over the cultural calendar. “Zakir
is in the city. Since the space is not ready yet, he will announce its opening (this month) at his concert today.”
The event at YB Chavan Auditorium will also see Fazal perform with 14 of his students. “I’ve composed a unique
, where we go from one
to another,” he reveals.
Going by his family connections, can one expect the likes of his celebrated brother Zakir Hussain and world musicians like John McLaughlin to be part of the faculty? “Zakir
will be a guest faculty. He will teach specialised courses. We want to expose students to other forms like jazz, western classical and pop, where the tabla has been incorporated. We are still designing the course and selecting the faculty, which will include international stalwarts,” he says.
While the nominal fee of Rs 600 may be increased by a few hundreds, Fazal promises that it’ll be worth every buck: “We train many international students. Now we plan to make the school more organised, through tie-ups with music institutions across the world. Ours isn’t a money-making enterprise, we are still just here to impart knowledge on the tabla. The only eligibility is to have a passion for music.”