The High Notes

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

–Plato

Music is an important aspect of my life. No, I don’t sing or play any instrument. I just listen. But listening is ‘my stairway to heaven ‘.  Music motivates me, makes me happy, makes me hopeful and when words fail, spirits dwindle is when the alchemy of it all starts.

I did not have the ambience or the introduction to this generous giving aspect of life. But when my daughter was born, I had decided one thing. Yea, You guessed it right. I was going to make this little girl sing.

Pushing your child to fulfill your inner desires and dreams is criminal, that’s what the dad says. But I don’t push.

I just believe in the power of Music. I want my kid to feel the essence of this beautiful creation of man. If just listening uplifts and opens up my failing spirits, then imagine how much more magical it would be, to actually be a part of it, to contribute, to sing! Music can have indelible impressions on your personality, on our thoughts, on our creativity and our learning skills. And like with everything, its best to start young.

When Milee was 3 and half I started frequenting vocal classes for her. The hunt was treacherous. Not able to find someone who could guide and mentor the child was a big setback for me. Everywhere, it was the same. It’s all about money. And in spite of shelling out a handsome amount, the result or the dedication of the tutor was disappointing.

My kid is no natural. We are from the business community of India, where selling/marketing/counting moolah comes naturally(I missed this too somehow, the black sheep of the family) but not singing. Music never ran in any of our veins…. neither mine nor his.  Bengalis, South Indians, Maharashtrians have it in them, but not us…marwaris don’t sing. Usually.

But I was about to change all that. I intended to bring music into our little home and lives. Three classes were tried. We spent good 2-3 months in one place, gave it time, effort and money, but still remained on ground zero. Fed up with the apathy of the abecedary, I took a break for a couple of months.

Then last year, one fine day,  all of a sudden it fell into my lap. Just like that. A music class close to my house, adhering to many of my terms. Accidental discoveries work for me. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed. I run behind hard-to-get things. I don’t get it. I quit. And suddenly, God throws a bone my way, all for free!

So, I enroll my child. Ritually take her for classes on Saturday afternoons and in the process refuse lunch invites, miss birthday parties, cancel weekend getaways. In short make those classes my religion. But there was a small problem. Nothing in life is FREE.

The other 7 students in her class are congenital singers. (Its my good guess) and mine is not. We dont have an innate sense of music or vocals. I cannot distinguish between ‘sa’ and ‘re’. The others had some relative or the other who was their real mentor. In class there was this unsaid decorum. Teacher sings a line. The others repeat. They go home and practice with the parent.

Yea, I would do it too, if I knew how to. But here I was, with no clue of sur or taal. And to make matters worse, I stupidly fill the forms of the first “Prarambhik” exams to be held in April this year. Brilliant.

Learning 8 different raagas with the details of each, along with the “aaroh”, “avroh” and the entire bandish is no big deal for my almond eating kid. But singing along with natural singers and being repeatedly credited by teacher for mediocrity was proving challenging for my little girl. What followed for the next few months is inexplicable. I reeled in guilt, in doubt and in shame.

Am I doing the right thing? What effects will all this have on Milee’s self-confidence? Should I quit? Again?

Practice and patience are the only keys that I could see on the keyboard. I turned my heart into stone and etched those golden words. I stuck.

I sit in classes, I record the different raagas taught. We go home. Torture my 5 yr old to listen to the recordings umpteen number of times, match the melody. Reproduce the tune. Phew! A herculean task. I practice with her. Singing along made it easier for her and was funnily liberating for me. Husband and maids were tormented with high pitch-closed-eyes intense sessions of classical hindustani music for months to come.

There were times when I almost quit. I was paranoid  of any drastic effects on the frail child’s ego or mind. But I still went ahead. It was always ‘we have come this far, a little more to go’. And her improvement was my reward. She had always enjoyed singing n humming, but the classes were a challenge for her. The teacher paid no special attention and provided no extra classes even on my insistence. But one parent was magnanimous in her gesture when she offered to chip in with Milee. I was elated. The parent helped us by training Milee of those nuances which I could not deal with. The exam was but a tiny hurdle, and Milee went all out in confidence and dedication.

Somehow, things work out. We find ways. The music has commenced to make small waves in my little girl’s life. She hums when she draws. She identifies notes and tunes. She wants to watch musical shows. She shuts her ears when I sing πŸ™‚ All these are good signs. Signs that mean she now knows the right note from the wrong one. The high note from the low one. The good from the bad.

My family and friends encourage her to sing in small gatherings or poojas. She does unabashedly. It’s not always melodious but I haven’t met one single person who comes and criticizes a child who strives. The exam result out a couple of days back has tempted me to write this article. She scored a first-class and in her group of 8 she did ‘surprisingly’ well to have stood 3rd.

When the teacher was all praise for Milee and asked me if I was feeling ‘proud’, I turned mute.  Pride is the last thing on my mind… all that effort, all that hard work, all that guilt, all those weekends….. PRIDE definitely had no place on the list. I was not proud in that sense but happy that I finally brought music in to my kid’s life.

It was pure perseverance. And for me, when all my words fail, Music speaks.

Life's Rhapsody

Life’s Rhapsody

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4 thoughts on “The High Notes

  1. Loved it…. And I hear ya… Business family… North Indian baniya… ;))…lol
    I did the same with my 9year old,…. Tortured her through 1&1/2 years of piano lessons…arguments about finishing the homework…meeting the practice time target….phew.. Was i tired? Boy… Weekly torture for her and me… But I stuck and can see the improvement.
    Have believed that music brings magic to the life!
    You write very well… Actually excellent flair of words :). I hope you blog your writing pieces in a separate blog too… Check mine at NRI-scopic @ WordPress πŸ™‚
    Sonal

    • Thank you Sonal. I will surely read your write ups too. A separate blog for the write ups just seems a little bit tedious for something that I do once in a while. I’m lazy πŸ™‚ But, I will surely give it a thought. I have made a separate page “random thoughts” for all my dreamy journals.
      Thanks again.

  2. Simply Brilliant.
    As i’ve often told you, just enjoy reading your thoughts and experiences, and also, by reading your posts, its for me, a walk back in time, when i see certain shades of myself in the words u write.
    Truly admire the honest manner in which u analyse and bare your aspirations and the effort taken by you, in order to seek it out.
    Music is truly magical and mesmerizing….it transports you to another realm…..just needs to be felt and experienced.
    All the Best, to Milee and You, she sure has a long way to go.

    • Alkaji, I see a lot of me in you too.
      I’ve been very honest about what I write. I received more flak than necessary where my singing sojourns with Milee was concerned. This write up was an ode to those who criticized my parenting and doubted my intentions. Even If Milee didn’t score well in the exams, I would have still written this piece because she has learnt to pursue and love all that she endeavors. That is all what I wanted in the first place. Not an Indian Idol tag.
      Thank you for your encouragement as always.

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