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Music makes children disciplined, confident, says this parent

Parents can gently ‘influence’ their children to take up a new hobby or discover a passion, which will enrich their lives. They should at times try to kindle the fire, ignite the spark.

education Updated: Dec 27, 2017 18:19 IST
Hobbies,Discipline,Music training
Naman (left) and Mannat at a musical performance in Delhi.(Sourced)

Here is an honest confession – each one of us as parents have dreams, desires and aspirations. It all right to want our children to be happy doing what they want for themselves, but no parent can deny nurturing dreams for his or her children - which he or she hopes will be fulfilled someday.

I have always wanted my children, son Naman, 12, and daughter Mannat, eight, to receive the wonderful gift of music. I’ve always wanted them to be associated with the beautiful world of sound, rhythm, music, through musical instruments or the vocal or dance mediums.

Today both the children sing and play instruments (whilst receiving training in classical music) and 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 the result of their hard work - and because our entire family has worked as a team to make things happen.

There is a saying by the wise writer and poet Kahlil Gibran that 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 are not our possessions. They are individuals in their own right, you cannot impose or thrust upon them what you think is right. However, that should not stop you from trying to ‘influence’ them if you feel that a new hobby or a passion discovered will enrich their lives. The desire to do anything must emanate from within them, but every parent I feel must try at times to kindle the fire, ignite the spark.

It started quite by chance - while cleaning the loft at home - that I chanced upon a harmonium I used to play as a child. Remembering the few (three to four years) I had spent learning to play the instrument (after which it gathered dust) I felt sad to see this beautiful work of art lying unused and unwanted, and that too in a household where education and art had always been encouraged. I remember how much of parental support and guidance I had received from my parents, especially my mother, and how sad she was when I discontinued my music training.

My son was all of four years then – too young to learn, I thought. But hope persisted, and a few days later I met his guru-to-be, Jitender Nirala, a music teacher at a school in Dwarka, who had visited our home for a prayer ceremony. When I requested him to teach my son, his first question was whether the little boy would be interested. Much to my disappointment, when we asked Naman, he refused to entertain such thoughts.

However, Nirala had a suggestion – that I should first start training so that my son would be motivated to take up singing.

The children with their ‘guruji’ Jitender Nirala . (Sourced)

Though this idea seemed a little strange I wanted to give it a try. Soon, I was singing bhajans – memorising almost 20 of them, slowly losing hope as my son paid no interest to what I was doing and would be busy running around the house, playing. However, I persevered and interestingly, it was while I was practising the 21st bhajan that he walked up to me and without as much as batting an eyelid said:”I can play it better.”

There has been no turning back since.

My experience taught me that there is 100% truth in the statement – children follow what parents “do” and not what they “say”. At that time, I was expecting my second child and still feel that because of all the music around us, Mannat’s musical journey magically began before she even physically entered the world.

Today music is as intrinsic part of both the children’s lives. Just the other day Naman went for a zonal competition and won the first prize. He and Mannat have both performed at the Dilli Haat amphitheatre in Janakpuri and at the Radhakrishnan Auditorium and for many other school competitions.

Nirala also introduced the children to their classical music tutor who we address as Bhawna “ji”. She is trained in Hindustani classical music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in New Delhi and takes classes twice a week. So, with Nirala, the children have three days of training in a week.

I feel this discipline has given them the confidence to participate eagerly in competitions - from public speaking, to quiz and dramatics, apart from being regular with their academics. So far, I have seen that those who are exposed to fine arts usually are above average in everything from academics to interpersonal relationships to behaviour and treatment of others. They are found to be often both sensible and sensitive.

Another person who has played an important role in developing their passion is my mother. She motivates them to do their riyaaz regularly and makes sure they have rehearsed well before a performance.

Ask Mannat about her favourite performance and she says, “ It was during the monsoon when I sang ‘Jhooti mooti mitwa aawan bole’ from the movie Rudali with my brother playing the harmonium and it actually drizzled.”

For Naman, music is relaxation. It helps him “cool down” and is a stress buster, thanks to the very soothing classical ragas. He looks forward to his riyaaz to unwind after a hectic day.

“Classical music is a favourite as that is a base for all music. I also like to sing bhajans, Sufi and Hindi movie songs. After learning classical I feel I can sing all genres better because I have more control. My favourite ragas differ according to my moods but I like raag Shankara and Vrindavani Sarang a lot,” he adds.

Anyone interested in classical music cannot improve one’s performance without riyaaz – and it’s as important as revision of English, science and maths subjects, without which one can’t improve one’s performance in class,” feels Naman. He does riyaaz three to four times a week “though I wish I could do it more often,” he says.

Naman feels lucky to have got the “best gurus possible who make me feel comfortable and I really enjoy singing with them.”

A memorable performance for him was at Delhi’s Air Force Auditorium where he sang a bhajan with his guruji, Nirala, playing the tabla.

I also feel music has helped the children develop finer sensibilities – they can appreciate a good piece and shun numbers which are too loud or crude.

The author is a freelance writer.

First Published: Dec 27, 2017 18:17 IST