My Journey with the Violin
I was eight years old when I started playing the violin. I was just naturally drawn to the instrument. My initial trainings were not structured, but I enjoyed playing the violin.
Looking back after seven years I had few moments during the journey where I felt like quitting. When I joined the Academy of Western Music I had no intentions of appearing for any grade exams. I was speechless when my master – Giri Sir told me that he was going to prepare me for the Trinity School exams.
I was happy with how I went about playing the Grade I. But there was always a Grade II. This is when the pressure started as the criticisms grew harder and the expectations were high. My Sir wanted perfection. I remember, until the previous day of my grade II exam there was a particular piece which I could not master. I played the Grade II exam as confidently as I could with the aim of bettering my scores. I passed the exam with distinction with 96 marks. I was very pleased and Sir was happy as well. He wanted me to carry on and not to be over confident.
It came to me as a surprise one summer evening when I was told that I would win a prize from the Trinity School of Music, Chennai Chapter for my outstanding performance in my Grade II exam. During the felicitation function I felt proud of myself for having got the highest marks among all participants in string instrument from Initial grade to Grade IV.
Thus this journey has been a great experience and I thank God, my violin teachers and my family for the support and encouragement given to me.
I would like to conclude by saying that anything is possible with dedication and effort.
Sered George David
Violin Student –Academy of Western Music
The Effect of Music
Many people play an instrument because they like the sound of it. Some people play an instrument because they have seen their family members or another person play it.
Me???? I wanted to play the piano because I liked the way how black and white could create such brilliant and colourful sounds. I am an Eighth Grade student of piano at The Academy of Western Music.
I started playing the piano since the age of 5. I first saw a piano at a music concert that I went to with my father. I being baffled, asked my father “Daddy, how can something which has only black and white produce such beautiful sounds?” Well he said, “Son, that’s the beauty of Music. It can make you happy when you’re sad”. That actually sparked my love for music and especially the piano. So here I am now playing the thing that I love the most and learning it at the best place in Chennai. Above all, my teacher Mr. Srikanth Gnanasekaran has taught me so much even though I joined the Academy only two years ago. The other things that I enjoy at the Academy include performance opportunities for students and the chance to watch and learn from other professionals, when they play at recitals hosted there. This is in addition to the exam preparation that a student gets at the Academy.
There is a quote in the lobby of the Academy by Bob Marley that says, “When music hits you, you will feel no pain”. Well, that is the same effect I have felt over the many years I have played the piano. Whether it was a bad test mark or an emotional attack from the death of a beloved family member, music was always there to help me feel happy again. Even now people still ask me “Why do you still play music and go to class? Isn’t it a burden?” Well, if only they could experience the way I feel every time I sit at the piano and play, then they would never ask me a question like that.
I would like to thank my teacher -Mr. Srikanth, the CEO -Mr. John Sudhakar and my family for giving me this opportunity to play this amazing instrument.
Tharun J Iyer
Advanced Level Piano Student -Academy of Western Music
Music to Experience
It was those days when India had just entered the world of television and internet was never heard of. Radio was the main source of music for listeners and I was no different. After accumulating some money, I purchased a pocket transistor and managed to hook on to All India Radio. The transistor was a true companion all day and night. My studies would be incomplete without the transistor emanating music in the background.
That was when I dreamt of playing a musical instrument one day. However I couldn’t muster courage to tell my parents that I wanted to learn music. The parental and peer pressure ensured I let my dream aborted but I did not allow it to die. I used to envy those who could sing or play music. I would lay my hands on a toy keyboard that had just one octave and would play some tunes. My ears and heart would rejoice even to hear sound bites coming from that toy keyboard.
It took me 20 years to realize the dream and I am glad I did finally manage. It is worth the wait and I always knew it is going to provide me an experience that cannot be matched by any other medium. In a highly demanding environment of corporate life it is like an oasis in a dessert. It is important for me to keep my senses in balance when there is every possibility of it drifting and become insane.
Chennai is mecca of music enthusiast and performing art. If one has time by the side and one likes any kind of music I would strongly recommend acquiring yourself some skill of playing any instrument. Believe me it makes so much difference to your music experience. It is one thing to listen to music but whole different experience to play it yourself and enjoy the frequency. Be aware sometimes it sounds interesting to try your hand at self-learning. As they say ultimately you need a teacher to show you the mirror and provide direction. It is easy to learn wrong way but hard to rectify it later.
To my advantage I could locate a Class within walking distance from my house where Srikanth Sir used to teach Keyboard. There was no excuse and nothing left to decide. I just joined knowing very well that I had to steal some time from my busy job that I do for living to fulfill my passion. It is a decision often gets procrastinated because obviously job comes first. But when you are busy earning livelihood for you and your family sometime you need to live for yourself and your passion. In these matters taking plunge is relatively easy but what is challenging is to sustain it. I have come across people enthusiastically joining classes just to terminate abruptly. The realization comes later when the passion keeps reminding perhaps you made wrong choice. I hope I will not be in that category of people.
The association with Srikanth Sir let me join The Academy of Western Music. It was again a no brainer since I didn’t want any excuse like distance to overpower the desire to learn. The learning environment that The Academy of Western Music provides is second to none with great facility and sophisticated instruments. What I like more here is the opportunity that is provided to students to perform while learning. Some of us have stage phobia and opportunities like SPOT enables in removing the phobia. It also assists in better preparing for the examinations.
I continued learning Keyboard but always fascinated with the elegance and grace of Piano. It is not to suggest in any manner that one is superior to another. In my view every instrument is a god gift to the mankind. In the past the only barrier could have been space and some investment but no more. Fortunately I could afford both. The choice was easy and I shifted to learning Piano.
These days my routine is adjusted to the time that is required for practicing Piano. I make it a point not to miss a class as much as I can. It is advisable to be regular in practice than erratic. The passion that started with listening to music has gone beyond listening. It is no more just music. It is now an experience that is for life.
Vice President, Business Services (globally renowned management consulting company)
Advanced Level Piano Student -Academy of Western Music
Elixir of Music
Ever since I heard my friend strum Für Elise on the guitar decades ago, I have been hooked on to Classical Guitar.
While I dabbled with the Acoustic Guitar briefly, Classical was enchanting.
Work, travel, family were excuses that I gave myself to avoid Music.
I read about the Academy of Western Music in a daily and decided to give it a shot.
I realised later that it gave me the much needed elixir of Music.
The ambience and facilities in AWM are ideal to further interest in Music. The Academy also has a library which few other institutes have. Student performances are conducted regularly to encourage talent.
There are presentations by experts on various aspects of Music.
Importantly. one can learn at one’s own pace. The Academy has qualified teachers to guide aspirants. I’m thankful to my teacher Jonathan, who puts up with all my lack of practice patiently. He made me realise that age is no bar for an interested person and gently nudged me to take the Trinity College of Music examination. I hope to play alongside him without missing a beat, note or pause! I’m enjoying Music and look forward to my weekend classes at AWM rather than seeing it as a chore.
Some youngsters of the AWM, whom I have seen perform, are amazing.
May be I’ll say some day that I learnt Music with them in AWM.
In Mr. John Sudhakar, CEO, AWM has a humane individual who, apart from being so involved and passionate about Music, also has an innate ability to spot and nurture talent.
Classical Guitar Student –Academy of Western Music
Music, One Thing I Truly Enjoy
I am happy that my parents helped me realise that I get energised when I sing and listen to music, especially western music. My parents have always encouraged and believed that I could be a singer. They have been taking me tirelessly to participate in music competitions. The learning is that I need to learn the basics and learn the fundamentals.
Chennaites, we are blessed. We have the right place where we get the right teaching, infrastructure and the coaching for Western Music – Academy of Western Music.
One day at school, I received news that I had been selected for the inter school singing competition at St. Johns Public School. About 48 schools and approximately 400 children participated in the competition. There were three judges, Mr. Yani Desh, Mr. Prasanna and Mr. Kumarasan. They announced that the winner would be awarded a trophy and a certificate. I felt slightly nervous right before getting on the stage.
Later, after all the schools completed their performances, it was time for the results. I was eager, hoping for a place amongst the top three. As the judges were about to dictate the winners name, my heart was beating fast, everyone were anxious to know the results. That’s when they announced, that The Best Singer Award goes to R.Sathviga Sri. I was startled. It was something very unanticipated and unexpected. Flying in excitement, I received my trophy and left the stage. There were mainly two reasons of my success, The Academy of Western Music and my family’s contributions to this competition. I would definitely like to thank my wonderful teacher, Ms. Sangita Santosham. For Patiently correcting my mistakes when I would go wrong, for constantly raising me up when I would sink and for heartening me when I would feel down. I am also thankful for learning everything you have taught me as it has helped me incredibly. I would like to thank my parents for helping me solve every problem I have gone through, pulling me up when I fall down and for believing in me with all their heart. Lastly, I would like to conclude by saying thanks again for all your support.
Sathviga Sri. R (Age: 11 years)
Vocal Student -Academy of Western Music, Chennai.
From Aspiring Composer to Aspiring Learner
I joined the academy of western music exactly two years back; with one steady goal- learn enough music to be able to compose within a few months. Having a strong base in the rhythm and lyrics departments, I figured that the tune was the only ingredient I had left to acquire, in order to make music. Rather than the violin, the guitar or the flute, I decided to play the King of all instruments- the piano (because once you chalked out the plan for a song in the piano, it’s very simple to extrapolate that plan and implement it in an orchestra). Like most ambitious people with a “how hard could it be” attitude, I was deluded by the thought that creativity thrived on ignorance. I felt that learning music gave the mind a fixed direction to think. This meant that learning would make you narrow minded in the way you’d approach new compositions and eventually, you will just end up becoming another artist with a perfectly predictable collection of tunes in a compact disk. On the other hand, if you were ignorant about the technicalities and just had a basic sense of what sounded good, you would sit in front of the piano and hit random notes in different combinations till you eventually discovered what sounded nice. Since you’re not really thinking in terms of playing “this chord for this note“, your mind would essentially look at the possibility of “12 different keys (5 black and 7 white, per scale) for each note” that you try. So this lack of bias would definitely yield something unique. Moreover, every song would have a whole new flavor of that uniqueness. All this sure does seem theoretically possible. But only when you actually sit in front of a keyboard and hit those keys hopelessly do you realize that you don’t seem to be going anywhere. So I realized that I had to equip myself with the fundamentals of the piano to some extent. Thus, despite my reticence, I enrolled for the piano course to get no more than a very basic idea which would prime my fingers and get me in the zone to start composing.
But as I sat in front of that beautiful contraption of strings, hammers and ivory keys, its very majesty drew my fingers to perch on its keys gracefully. Suddenly, even the mistakes I made while playing, sounded like music to me. I was able to connect with every single semitone that the instrument produced and felt an increasing need to delve into it. Since then, every single piano class (which is unfortunately only once a week) has been a source of happiness and escapism from everything else. My parents gifted me a digital piano (no, it’s NOT a keyboard, it’s a whole lot more identical to a piano in terms of the number of octaves and the behavior of the keys) during my second week of class and are still struggling to keep me away from it, even when I have to read for exams in college.
This journey has changed my approach towards music completely. For a very simple and relatable example, most of us have this mindset that any song on the piano can be divided into the main melody that we hum, which is played by one hand and the chords (or the bass or the background in general) which is played by the other. That does seem a bit simple because it makes you feel that once you figure out the tune, you can play the chord that’s centered round the first note (main note) of each bar. But right from my first class, that belief changed completely. First of all, the non melody hand needn’t necessarily play the whole chords. It can even play singular notes which perfectly fit like siblings to the corresponding melody line. Also, the role of each hand can be interchanged in different sections of the song. So, the background notes needn’t necessarily sound deeper (low pitch) with respect to the melody. Most importantly, the chords govern the way the tune proceeds, so if you have been selecting your chords based on the melody you have conjured, you haven’t been doing it right. This also implies that there can be a song with both hands playing only chords throughout, but there can never be a song which only has a melody component. Apart from making my jaw drop, these above facts prompted me to explore this world more to see what else I don’t know. My teacher, Mr. Srikanth Gnanasekaran, told me that it was time I started listening to classical composers, because I could only learn more if I listened more. Naturally I started with Mozart and Beethoven and soon, all those very common reverse tones, elevator songs and Nokia ring tones that we hardly pay attention to, became masterpieces to me when I studied the actual way they had been written. Every single chord transition that changed the mood of the song taught me a lot about progressions and instilled in me a huge sense of respect for the thought processes that those great composers were blessed with.
But what if I told you, that those few pieces were just the beginning of an era of musicians whose songs become more complex and intricate? Bach, Mozart and Beethoven laid the foundation for the composers of the next century to build up on. Soon, there was a surplus of musical geniuses in the post Beethoven period- the Romantic Era of Music. These Romantic Era composers have been the most significant influences in my musical learning.
Essentially, every composer spoke the same language “music”. But the way they conveyed their thoughts and interpretations of their life is what changed the music they made. Every song I listen to is like a movie where the notes speak to me to tell me different stories, show different moods and paint a picture of the way its composer looked at life. Who would have thought that I would reach a level where I can sit through as long as 75 minutes of a single song which is only instrumental? The fact that I would travel so far down that path which no one (including myself) expected me to even consider taking, is STILL pretty hard to digest for most people. My friends are still astonished when they think of the way I moved from “whoa! Eminem just dropped a new album” to “dude!! Have you heard Chopin’s Waltz in B minor, Opus 69- number 2?” The only exams I enjoy reading for are my grade exams. Through these tireless 2 years, as I moved through 4 grades, I don’t recall a single instance that I don’t want to relive. To sum it all up, I’d say that this piano course has made me more patient. It has slowed me down and given me the thirst to learn, rather than an ambitious thirst to achieve. I can never imagine what I’d do without my piano beside me in life. Yes, like I said before, learning music does make the mind move in a particular direction, and all I can say is that I really like the direction in which I am going, thanks to the Academy of Western Music.
Piano Student (Trinity, Grade IV) -Academy of Western Music, Chennai.