World Music Day 2024: These Music Teachers Share What Inspires Their Passion

World Music Day 2024: These Music Teachers Share What Inspires Their Passion

A talented music teacher, like Richard Dreyfuss in Mr Holland's Opus, can strike a chord with his students that taps into their potential

Dinesh RahejaUpdated: Saturday, June 15, 2024, 11:23 PM IST
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Debojyoti Gupta |

A talented music teacher, like Richard Dreyfuss in Mr Holland's Opus, can strike a chord with his students that taps into their potential. That begs the question — what motivates Indian musicians to teach and what are the rewards they aspire for?

For Mumbai-based Baasab R Bhattacharya who has been teaching vocals for the last 25 years, desire to teach stems from opportunity to musically enrich the lives of his students. “Sharing what I know of this vast subject, music, is very gratifying for me.”

Debojyoti Gupta views his teaching efforts as a continuation of the guru-shishya parampara. The sitar maestro from Kolkatta points out, “Indian music has an oral tradition for imparting knowledge. Saamne bithake sikhaya jaata hai. I like teaching a committed student of the sitar. You have to teach to prepare the next generation.”

Music composer Tridib Roy Chowdhury finds it satisfying to teach music because of his love for art and his desire to pass on his store of musical information. He demurs, “While I am teaching, I am also brushing up my own musical grammar.”

Tridib Roy Chowdhury

Tridib Roy Chowdhury |

Chowdhury was interested in music right from childhood. “But as it often happens in middle-class families, I was guided towards academics,” he says. After I was given a prize by Hrishikesh Mukherji at the All India Singing Contest, I came to Mumbai to become a playback singer. I sang for a few TV serials but, initially, there were a lot of problems financially, as I was living on rent. So I started teaching music.”

But Chowdhury points out that it was never the lure of currency notes which pushed him to ensure that his students hit the right notes. He narrates, “My guru Dr Muneshwar Dayal said that he would give me his aashirwad only if I promised that I would share what he had taught me equally with a poor student as with someone paying me high fees. Till this day, I follow this principle.”

Debojyoti Gupta’s musical journey is somewhat different. “It's not possible to run your household from the income derived from teaching music so I am primarily a performer,” he asserts. “My profession is to give sitar performances and I teach only those people who are dedicated to improving their musical knowledge.”

Baasab R Bhattacharya

Baasab R Bhattacharya |

“Nowadays, some people become teachers without having adequate musical knowledge themselves,” believes Gupta so he stresses the importance of a musical bedrock. He narrates, “My father was a program executive in All India Radio in Assam and my mother was a singer, so our house was full of visiting exponents and suffused with music. I wanted to become a singer but after a tonsillitis operation went wrong, I veered towards the sitar. I have studied engineering, but was more interested in classical music. After my father passed away, we moved to Kolkatta and I studied from three gurus. My mother’s lung problem resulted in us shifting to Mumbai for her treatment. Money was acutely required so I started performing and teaching.”

Baasab R Bhattacharya  teaches 15-20 students across the globe. The vocalist would rather teach than perform. He relates, “Recently I had a program at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Centre and I had to adjust so many classes because of the numerous rehearsals. My wife and daughter insisted I do the show but I wish there were fewer rehearsals required.” To reach this position of privilege, Bhattacharya has put in a long struggle. “I started learning music when I was only four years old. I wanted to become a playback singer initially and I sang for a few films in the 1990s, but slowly my concentration shifted to teaching. I liked the respect I got as a music teacher.” One of the best rewards, according to Bhattacharya, is when a student scales new heights. Chaudhury agrees. “When a student excels and thanks me, it's a reward I cherish.”

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