Guest Speaker – Northeastern University

“I can’t remember his name. Isn’t he Norah Jones’s father?” I was flummoxed for a moment by this response to my question asking the students to identify who the musician was. I’d just played a snippet of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s sitar performance to Francesca Inglese’s “Musical Communities of Boston” class at Northeastern University. The question helped me realize the assumptions I’d made about the audience, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Indian classical music. It reminded me that as educators we need to constantly question our own assumptions, biases and preconceived notions.

Each year I take away numerous questions and ideas from this guest speaking opportunity at Northeastern. This year’s questions ranged from the basics of the Carnatic form (“How long is a carnatic song typically?”) to my own journey as a performer (“Do you feel nervous while improvising on stage? Are there times you hit a block while singing raga alapana in a concert?”) to the sociology of Carnatic concerts (“Do concerts in Boston bring communities together? How accessible and inclusive is Indian classical music?”)

Carnatic music has some of the most complex rhythmic patterns. So the highlight of the day for me was when the students performed different talas with me every step of the way (without missing a beat) during the short demonstration I gave of a carnatic concert. The effortless manner they did it even whilst following me as I sang was truly rewarding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close