For years, singer-composer Shekhar Ravjiani of the Vishal-Shekhar duo has mentored contestants on popular reality shows. Extending his passion for nurturing young talent, Shekhar has now launched the GIIS-Shekhar Ravjiani School of Music.
A collaboration with the Global Indian International School, the venture will provide personalised musical training to students from across GIIS’s 21 global campuses. Shekhar has already started working with hand-picked mentees from India, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and UAE. The sessions will be conducted virtually and free of cost.
“I’ve mentored over 300 contestants across 15 music reality shows,” Shekhar shares. “Many of them went on to become successful singers. My teacher, Ustad Niaz Ahmed Khan, used to say that you increase your knowledge by sharing. I now want to give back on a global platform.” Shekhar was invited for a masterclass at GIIS’s Singapore campus.
Interacting with the students, he was impressed by their cultural diversity and passion for music. The idea he cracked was to create a ‘need-based, curated and personalised learning module’. Eschewing large batches, he will be identifying individual aptitudes and designing curricula based on them.
Shekhar says he isn’t a fan of regimented musical learning. More important, he submits, is that a child enjoys the process of music. “Growing up, I had a piano instructor, Mr Xavier Fenandez, coming to my home. He would teach me theory for 45 minutes and the rest would be for songs. He taught me Lionel Richie’s Hello. He taught me pieces I could display to my friends and family. That would bring me a lot of joy.”
The same approach will now apply to Shekhar’s students. “Instead of boring them with theory, I will be teaching them the methods of perfecting their skills and then returning to the academics.” Both Shekhar and Atul Temurnikar (co-founder and chairman of GIIS) are focused on a mix of organic and virtual learning. “There are students who are training with real instruments.
They have no interest in modern gadgets and software,” Shekhar shares. “At the same time, there are kids who want to get into music production. I compose, produce and sing my own music, so we are encouraging that too.” With the lockdown underway and international passenger flights suspended, online classes have come in handy.
“I conducted two-three classes with the students of GIIS and they were happy learning and demonstrating their skills. That’s what music does. In any situation, it puts a smile on your face.” Shekhar started as a contestant on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 1997.
Along with Vishal Dadlani, he has composed music for over 70 Bollywood films. On television, he has judged shows like The Voice India Kids, Indian Idol Junior, Jo Jeeta Wohi Super Star, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, and others. The composer and mentor agrees that music is a ‘gift’ — and cannot be predicted beyond a point.“Tomorrow, a child could be singing a film song for me or performing at an international arena,” he says. “The best I can do is guide them on the right path. The rest will be their hard-work and journey.”