Since I've talked about my love for music in one of my previous posts, it wasn't going to be long before I wrote a post on the subject. So here goes. Of late, I am constantly reminded of my music student days. This thanks to my roommates who are equally interested in the same kind of music as me. We can spend hours on end singing, listening and exchanging "notes". :)
As a seven year old, I was enrolled into a music class that my Mum had found out about after extensive consultation with the Maamis of our neighbourhood. Of course you know that a Maami refers to the quintessential Tam-Bram Aunty who is well informed about schools, music teachers, dance teachers, summer camps and what not! My teacher was a locally well known AIR artist who performed at kachcheris (concerts) conducted around the city. But what nailed the choice for my Mum was that my teacher was the sister of a world famous violinist. Why look further! Like in any other art form, in music, lineage is of prime importance. Since my teacher was related to this hot shot violinist, it was guaranteed that the school of music that I would be trained under would be widely accepted and hence, I would turn out to be a good singer. Quite straightforward actually. They refer to this lineage as paaNi in the Carnatic world.
And so I obediently began attending music classes twice a week. The start was pretty good because my teacher certified that my voice was decent enough to be trained in the first place. Moreover, I was grasping stuff rather quickly. So all was well. The first few months were spent in familiarizing with the notes - swaras as they are more technically called. Many a time I've been spanked for not singing in tune to the shruthi (the pitch) or messing up the taaLa (the tempo). I don't blame myself. Seven is not really an age to start mastering multitasking! Nevertheless, only after perfecting these fundamentals, did I progress to the next level where I was taught to sing "songs" - ones which had sahityam (lyrics).
It was probably around this time that I began to subconsciously hum to myself. I would walk back from music class, humming the tune that my teacher had just taught me. Gradually this escalated to a level where I began to hum any song that I might have heard on the TV or in a movie. The humming continues to this date. Only, it has gotten louder, much to the annoyance of the people within earshot!
Five years into Carnatic music and I fell in love with it. And it was as though my voice approved of this love, for, it just transformed from its nasal, timid self to what it is in its present form - loud and mature. Naturally, my guru was the first one to sense this change. She capitalized on the metamorphosis and immediately got me to sign up for the state level junior music exam. After five months of rigorous practice and no ice cream, I gave the exam. Whats more, I did really well on it further cementing my bond with music. By now, I was the star singer of the family. Something I didn't really enjoy! Any function in the family, I would be asked to sing- my Mum egging me on to sing each time, and me glaring at her, vowing that I would not take this kind of embarrassment ever in the future. All in vain of course!
Sadly enough, my dream run wasn't going to continue forever. Once in high school, I simply couldn't give music as much time as it deserved. It would sometimes be weeks between two consecutive practice sessions. It was terrible. Thankfully, my humming habit helped me stay in touch. While in the shower, I would practise one of the many kirtanams (devotional compositions) that I had learned and try and improvise. :) It wasn't much. But it was just about enough to keep me going.
It has been about 5 years since I discontinued music classes. But, I still believe that I am a student of music. Learning something from each song I hear. Even today, if I feel down and out, I sit in a corner of my room and practise. To me, this exercise is more liberating than any other. It elevates me to a state of complete satisfaction. There lies the true beauty of this art. Its an asset nobody can steal away from you. It is yours for posterity. Whether you decide to flaunt it to the world or you use it to better yourself, its yours!