The legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, who has the Guinness world record of recording over 50 thousand songs in her career spanning over 75 years, once, told about her biggest regret while being interviewed on her 89th birthday on 28th September 2018. Do you know what her biggest regret is?
In the legend’s own words – “Not being able to do enough practice of Hindustani classical vocal. I missed doing that riyaaz (practise). I learnt classical Hindustani singing from my father, but he justify too early. I was too small to understand the value of what he was teaching me. I would be running away from him to play while he would be trying to get me to sit and learn music.” She adds that if she could go back in time and change one thing in her life, it would be her father’s untimely demise and to keep learning and practicing music under him.
Such is the importance of classical music. We generally take it is as a big deal to become a famous singer in Bollywood and constantly keep doling out chartbuster songs. And why not? It glitters out, loud. It is all flashy and exciting. But as we have seen in the words of one of our living legends, Lata Mangeshkar, this fame is temporary. The satisfaction and elegance that you can achieve through classical music is something which stays in your heart forever and some say, even transcends the boundaries of mortal life.
Indian Classical Music, as history has it, has been born out of the temples or religious gatherings of India. Clearly understood that this music has never been for entertainment. It has been there for salvation, for self-realisation, to get you close to the Divine. In the course of time, the princely states and Kingdoms in the country became the patron and sponsors of this sacred art and thus, to some extent it went on to entertain the Kings and the royal families.
As far as teaching and learning of this ancient Art is concerned, it is much easier now than ever. This used to be a heavily guarded knowledge being imparted to the priests and their descendants in the temples and later to the Royal families and the close family members of the musicians. With the institutionalization of Classical music in the early 20th century it became easier for common man to get access to this art. The recording and concert platforms also helped a larger audience come in close contact with this fine art. As a result, Gurukuls, Music Academies, Conservatories, etc. came into being where the propagation and preservation of Hindustani Classical music has had been done.
Musicians and artists are travelling all around the world and are happily accepting talented and interested students from all around. This has made this knowledge truly international and so many students from every part of the world are getting an opportunity to dive deep into the nuances of Hindustani Classical Vocal.
One such educative and refreshing platform for learning Hindustani Music is MusicPlus Retreats under the able guidance of Sudhanshu Sharma – an internationally respected musician, performer and Teacher. His effort is in trying to revive the Gurukul system of education. At least give a glimpse of what traditional learning is through his intensive trainings whilst the students and teacher stay together in a peaceful location, away from the jangles and disquiet of life. These retreats are a unique combination of Yoga and vocal music where the students take deep care of their vocal instrument and get to study intensively and deeply with the master – Sudhanshu Sharma. As a way forward, his retreats are increasingly becoming popular all around the world and students from all over the continents are converging to learn the sacred art of Hindustani Classical Vocal and bask in the glory of sacred sound.