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Updated on: 22 October,2016 12:23 PM IST &nbsp|&nbsp
Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya |
Young teacher-student musicians, who help each other out when in need, talk about mentorship in music

Soumya Maradona Ghosh (left) with Kavya Vijay Prakash during a class at Crossroads School of Music
Soumya Maradona Ghosh (left) with Kavya Vijay Prakash during a class at Crossroads School of Music
“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching,” said Greek philosopher Aristotle. The strength doubles in geometric progression when the lessons are about crotchets and quavers. Despite Indian Classical training, aspiring musicians prefer a course in Western music to strike a balance between versatility and expertise. The route is smooth when music teachers act as enablers and strum the right chords. Soumya Maradona Ghosh and Kavya Vijay Prakash are penning one such story.
Vernon Noronha during a gig at Hard Rock Cafe. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Vernon Noronha during a gig at Hard Rock Cafe. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Ghosh started his career as a guitar player with Rock bands in Kolkata. He moved to Mumbai three years ago and went on to become the music teacher at Oberoi International School, where, Kavya (learning Western vocals from Ghosh) studies in the 10th standard.
Rockstar to teacher
“I started performing back in my school days. By the time I was 17, I was teaching a couple of kids; not because I wanted to but the guys saw me at a gig and insisted that I teach them the fancy stuff I did with my guitar. Like most college students, they wanted to impress girls. Back then, I would charge a modest Rs 50 per lesson. At 22, I was teaching at an international school in Kolkata and by 25, I was the head of the department,” says the 30-year-old who was named after football legend Diego Maradona because he was born in 1986, the year Argentina won the Worldâu00c2u0080u00c2u0088Cup.
Primarily a guitar player, Ghosh earned high level music certifications under Rockschool and Trinity College (London). Now, he is also a connoisseur of piano and vocals. He is one of those mentors who can be approached with personal problems. “My relationship with students is that of an elder brother.
I have helped my students through issues like bullying and personal losses, besides providing professional advice. Such a relation helps the learning process and alleviates stress. The objective of a teacher should not be to teach but to help the student succeed in learning and implement understanding,” he adds.
Ghosh also runs his own music school called Crossroads School of Music in Goregaon with his wife. “We currently have eight teachers, some visiting faculty members and over 120 students. We offer lessons in piano, keyboard, guitar, drums and Western vocals and internationally certified courses under Trinity College, London,” he adds. When not teaching, he plays his instrument with Bollywood legend Bappi Lahiri.
Kavya, the daughter of prominent playback singer Vijay Prakash (of Jai Ho fame), is an avid learner of Jazz. “Sir believes my voice suits Jazz. Since I am soft, he is helping me get raw and louder. I am trying to better my range through his exercises, as I can’t go deep or too high yet,” says the kid, who is also eyeing the film industry.
She learnt Hindustani Classical and Carnatic music from her father and is currently planning to get some hands-on training by performing at concerts and sessions with Ghosh. “Now that I have started performing in schools, thanks to Sir’s initiatives, I wish to continue this in future. We are going to perform at Hard Rock Café soon,” shares Kavya, who is completing her fifth grade in the Rock and Pop module from Trinity College.
“Both sir and my father advice me on how to carry on with my singing even if I catch a cold,” she adds.
If guitar legend Joe Satriani could include one of his notable students, Steve Vai, in his concerts, why can’t the present generation? Well, they may not have reached the pinnacle of glory yet, but Vernon Noronha and Ronit Sarkar aren’t far behind. The singer-songwriters are each other’s backbones.
“Nobody told me about being a teacher, but I do advise youngsters who are starting. I am aware of the mistakes I made when I started out. I have learnt a lot in the last few years and I don’t want anyone else to commit the same blunders,” says Noronha, who hired a venue to host gigs for other songwriters.
“We had all our gigs at The White Owl but we are shifting the venue to an intimate space where the full attention will be on artistes,” he adds. Why only singer-songwriters and not bands? Noronha says, “We want to focus on the breed because they get really shy to come out of their closet and perform.”
House gigs
Sarkar, who goes by the moniker Awkward Bong, took a leaf out of Noronha’s books and started The Living Room Tour. “Vernon’s idea was awesome because there was no pressure of an entry fee and no targets as such to sell drinks.
It was just music. When I was helping my friend Ramya Pothuri launch her EP, we thought of taking the concept further by organising house gigs,” says Sarkar, who hosted three gigs with his friend, that had artistes from different genres. Noronha was a part of it. Sarkar feels the community will bond better if people help each other. “Everyone played for free in The Living Room Tour; it says a lot about the mutual love and respect,” adds Sarkar.
Noronha underlined the importance one believing in his own music and recording a good quality demo. “That will help one pitch for better venues. If one is frustrated not having enough gigs, he should use that time to practise and improve,” he says.
One clearly needs to be patient and supportive to stick to a career in music.

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