Asian Music and Dance

A Balancing Game

Resham Lall looks at the dilemma of trying to follow your passion and achieving academic success.

A person who embarks on the extensive road of learning a classical art needs time. Time — for those who have it — can craft amazing things. However, as education has become one of the focal routes to providing today’s youth a stable future, most young people may find it difficult to dedicate even one hour of practice to their art. This inevitable shift towards education may be preventing capable students from flourishing and may be one of the reasons why British students struggle to prosper to the proficiency of artists from India. 

A musician’s life for me

Sarangi maestro Murad Ali quit school to focus on his music career at the age of seven. Murad, born and based in New Dehli, said an education is important, but not essential for dedicated musicians. For that reason, he encourages his students to be good musicians by learning “properly and practising hard so that they can live their life more beautifully and enjoy their music.” However, Murad said that artists must take into account that it may be easier to abandon your education and focus on one’s art in India than it is in the UK because, “so many other artists have done it… in England, that route has yet to be found.”

“When the ball of riaz (practice) gets rolling, its easy but to get the ball moving is hard. Playing an instrument is just a ball game, it’s all about practise.”  

Shabaz Hussain, tabla wizard from Rochdale, Manchester.

Artist vs. Professional

Daljinder Bansal is a school-teacher in the West Midlands who took Khayal singing lessons for 10 years before giving up on her art. Despite her devotion and love for singing, Daljinder decided to abandon the lessons three years ago to focus on her university studies. “After a day of university you are mentally exhausted. [Giving] your art the dedication it needs is difficult. It is something I couldn’t do.”

Parental support

Would you allow your child to navigate the waters of the music industry? As head of production for Sense World Music record label based in Leicester, Derek Roberts is a man whose knowledge of the Indian classical music industry is extensive.

“It’s not how long you practice for, it’s how. Ten minutes practise can be just as effective as an hour.” 

Jaswant Kaur

Balance is key

Sukhdeep Dhanjal is one of the UK’s most successful and valued tabla artists who has been through the rough times of practising and studying. “Always put your education first but, if you want to take an art seriously, it should be the next priority.” He adds that any free time should be spent wholly on one’s chosen art. “Any Indian classical art demands this type of discipline.”

Fuel the flame

Tarun Jasani, a young talented sarod player and one of the country’s leading sarod teachers says “dedication is needed! Dedication must come naturally; it can’t be demanded.” As a teacher, Tarun said it is his job to fuel a student’s interest for Indian classical music “until it becomes a flame and then fuel that flame until it becomes a roaring blaze.”

“Balancing an education and riyaz is very difficult. Sacrifices have to be made, that is the only route.” 

Daljinder Bansal

From the artist himself

Tabla player, student and Young Pulse writer Resham Lall says: “Students, remember that you are not in contest with others; you are in a match with yourself. Sthriving to be a famous, money-making artist was not the way this art was designed to be. Don’t let your education fail you as an artist. There is always a way to get past the difficult times and never give up on yourself — never!” 



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