Music Classes in Delhi since 1982 - A musical journey of a maestro, a Guru and a Performer

So when I asked Shikha Ganguly at what age did you start taking music classes, the answer shook me a bit. “I must be 17...I think!” She recalled very casually. I wanted to know more about her journey, her music and her overall experience of conducting music classes in Delhi since the year 1982.

Music Classes in Surmandir, Delhi

Music Classes in Surmandir, Delhi

It all started in the year 1971-72, when Shikha Ganguly had just completed her masters and was asked to take music classes by the Bengal Association in Delhi. For the next 10 years, she’d been teaching music at different centres. She was a music lecturer in Sujangarh (Rajasthan) and then Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) for 8 years after which Shikha got married in 1979 and became a mother in 1981. From 1981 to 1985 she was shuffling classes between Sangeet Bharti and Aurobindo Ashram in New Delhi. With every passing day, she came closer to music.

Then one fine day, Pandit Vinay Chandra Mudgal the founder of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya (Delhi), asked Shikha to open a private music school of her own. He also told her to get her students to take exams from Gandharva. That was the inception of “Surmandir” in 1985. Ever since Shikha Ganguly started taking music classes in Delhi at her “Surmandir”, students from all over the city have come, learnt, excelled and experienced the magic of Indian Classical Music.

Workshop for students from various US universities

Workshop for students from various US universities

Shikha has been teaching vocals, Tabla and Sitar to hundreds of students ranging from the age of 4 to 80. Other than music classes in Delhi, she also conducts Music workshops couple of times a week where students from around the world come to explore the world of Indian Classical Music.

So why learn Classical music at all? What does she tell her students to motivate? To this Shikha tells us,

Just like you cannot write poems and novels unless you learn the A, B, C; similarly, you will not be able to go beyond a certain extent, if you don’t learn Classical. Classical music is the foundation of every other form of music. It’s the base. You have to make your base strong to go far!

And has she noticed any development in her students once they start training in Classical? “Not just me. The students themselves tell me how their voices have improved and how much easier it becomes to sing non-classical songs once they’ve started training”.

When I asked her if it is difficult to motivate students and parents for taking classical music classes in Delhi, she said,

Learning music is not a hobby. It cannot be. One needs to be completely drenched in it to enjoy the “Ras”. And a lot of patience is required from a teacher’s and a parent’s end to develop the interest in the kid. I try to make them listen to classical music, talk about music. Yes, you have to be patient and try to motivate the child, but it’s not something you can force feed.

So in all these years of learning, performing and finally teaching Indian classical music classes in Delhi, how has music impacted Shikha Ganguly philosophically or spiritually?

It’s a gift. When there is music in your soul, you are never alone. I travel the world all by myself, make friends, see different places, but I never feel lonely. I only see the positive things in the world and soak them all in. Negativity doesn’t affect me. I have a shield around me and that’s the power of Music.

Writer: Alakananda Bhattacharya

A filmmaker, actor and writer, Alakananda has also conducted short-term courses in filmmaking and is a regular column writer for several travel magazines and online blogs including Vistara and Biman (in-flight magazine of Bangladesh Airlines). She is a professional cartographer and a trained Hindustani classical singer.

Arijit GangulyComment