Arnab Chakrabarty (January 2021)
I have been teaching music since 1999, both in formal institutional setting and privately in a one-to-one format. I was one of the first Indian classical musicians to pioneer online tutelage and have successfully trained musicians over Skype and other media since 2007. I have taught online quite regularly, while also offering in-person instruction to many students wherever I have been situated. Many younger sarod players, some of them established professionals now, have also benefited from my advice and counsel.
Some of my long-term students have also travelled across continents and camped in my house for weeks at a stretch in order to experience the rigours and benefits of closely supervised taleem. Of course, this opportunity can only be extended to the most serious students with prolonged engagement that, with time, leads to the fostering of a trust and friendship that is possibly only between a guru and a disciple.
Given my commitment to teaching, I get dozens of emails every month asking for sarod and instrumental music lessons. I am happy to take on new students who realise, feel and respect the gravitas of this formidable tradition of music, of the extreme devotion and hard work that is involved in mastering these beautiful and difficult instruments. As such, my uncompromising expectation from my students is that they will not take their own learning casually.
A word about my own learning: My mettle as a teacher accrues from my own experiences of learning. I did not receive either musical material or techniques on a platter. I had some good teachers, yes, but I had to struggle to find them and gain their confidence. In India, that process can be slower and more arduous for someone who doesn’t come from a clan of professional musicians, or isn’t born in wealth, or into a family with connections into the rather insular world of Hindustani music. The most precious lessons I acquired from my gurus are very sharp ears and an analytical faculty, which allow and enable me to listen very minutely, and constantly evaluate my own music and technique. In the words of a friend, this has allowed me to become a “a relentlessly self-improving musician”. This precise listening and judgement is what I bring to the table as a teacher, instantly understanding what minute adjustments of posture, or picking or strokes will make my student a constantly improving musician.
These unique personal circumstances of my evolution enable me to guide absolute beginners, hobbyists as well as aspiring professional musicians with a variety of insights and techniques that I have gained over decades of absolute immersion in my music. However, I do follow a set of principles from which I do not deviate. I do not admit flippancy into my classes. I expect my students to be absolutely certain of their love for Hindustani music. So, do earnestly ask yourselves if you will be able to commit at least one hour of daily practice in the beginning and two, as you progress. My music, and my musical outlook are fully committed to inclusivity, irrespective of race, class, caste, gender, sexuality and religion. However, I do not ascribe nor approve of ascribing a liturgical character to Hindustani music that seeks to subsume it within parochial identity politics. I imagine and practice Indian classical music as a contemporary, secular, ever-evolving art form that stems from a deep sense of a tradition that is alive, and not ossified. Seeking tutelage from any serious and leading practitioner of such a tradition also demands commitment at the student’s level. At the same time, the pleasure and joy that listening, learning and playing raga music bring, have few parallels!
So, if you are certain of your love of Hindustani music and committed to taking your playing seriously, get in touch immediately. If we can agree to learning with each other, I can assure you, as each of my present students shall attest, of unrestricted access to my knowledge, insight and art.
So, come on board!