Arnab Chakrabarty (January 2021)
I have been teaching music in some form or another since 1999, in both formal institutional settings and privately, in a one-to-one format. I was also one of the first Indian classical musicians to start teaching online – in 2007. Since 2008, I have taught online quite regularly, while also continuing to provide in-person guidance to many students wherever I have lived. My younger sarod players, some of them professionals now, have also benefited from consultations with me.
Some of my longer-term students have also traveled halfway across the world and camped in my house for weeks, in to experience the rigours of supervised practice. Of course, this last privilege can only be extended to committed students who belong in my circle of trust. This takes time to achieve.
Given this background, I am sure you understand that I get dozens of emails every month, asking for sarod and instrumental music lessons. As I have progressed in age and experience, I find it necessary to write these paragraphs so that people do not take this music, and those who spend lifetimes learning and mastering it, casually. Consequently, one hopes that they will not take their own learning casually either.
My teaching abilities derive from the fact that I was given neither musical material nor technique on a platter. I had good teachers, yes, but I had to struggle to find them and to gain their confidence. In India, that process can be slow and arduous for someone who doesn’t come from a family of professional musicians, isn’t born wealthy, and had few connections in the insular world of Hindustani music to begin with. However, the precious gift that I have received from my teachers are my critical filters, which enable me to listen critically to myself, and constantly evaluate where and how my own playing needs to improve. This, in turn, makes me a critical listener and as someone once said, “a relentlessly self-improving musician”.
While these unique circumstances of my evolution as a Hindustani musician enable me to guide beginners, hobbyists as well as aspiring professional musicians with a variety of insights that I have gained over the decades of immersion in this art form, I choose to do so on my terms. First, I have no tolerance for flippancy. You may approach me for lessons only if you are 100% sure of your love of Hindustani instrumental music and are willing to commit two hours of your day to practice. If you are a member of any community, sect or cult that ascribes a liturgical character to Hindustani music and seeks to subsume it into its identity politics, please do not bother contacting me. HCM is a contemporary, secular ever-evolving art form that derives from a deep tradition, and seeking tutelage from one of its leading practitioners demands commitment.
So, if you are certain of your love of Hindustani music and committed to taking your playing to a respectable level, do get in touch by all means. If I agree to take you on as a student, I assure you of unrestricted access to my knowledge, insights and working methods.