Growing up in the rural outskirts of New Delhi, I always wanted to learn music. Unfortunately, the financial circumstances of my family and lack of opportunities did not allow this, so I put the notion aside. When I moved to Halifax as an Assistant Professor at MSVU in 2011, I found this desire to learn music came flooding back. It was my good fortune to find Mr. Vijay Vyas who offered music lessons at the Hindu temple. He very kindly accepted me as a student, despite the fact that I had no prior training. His spontaneous style of teaching and composing inspired me greatly. I learnt the basics of music from him, and I followed this up with more focused harmonium training by my uncle Mr. M. C. Gotan. My uncle has an incredible passion for music, and he is an excellent harmonium and violin player. He is also an amazing composer. During my short visits to India, he taught me harmonium techniques and expressed his delight over my passion for music learning, as it matched his own. We also bonded over our love of composing music.
In fact, my love for composition has been a tremendous teacher to me. Given the sporadic nature of the musical instruction that I have received, I do not believe I would have been able to learn music as deeply as I have, had I not found myself with a knack for composition. Over the years, I have composed hundreds of songs and tunes, and learning and mastering these compositions has deeply contributed to my musical understanding. I wish to continue my musical journey and deepen my musical learning by sharing what I know with others.
For me, music is a form of meditative inquiry; it is a way to deepen my connection with the creative flow of existence. I see music as a living being that is ever-present, that we can become part of and flow with when we are in a meditative state of mind. I feel that music is vast and expansive like the ocean. It is an eternal source of rhythm, melody, and beauty. Music is not just a matter of technical mastery resulting from mechanical practice and blind, uncreative repetition. Technique, practice, and traditions have their due place in teaching and learning music, but an overemphasis on them without consideration for creative play, freedom, originality, and intrinsic intelligence can prove very limiting. Music is a sacred, spiritual, and meditative experience. We must allow ourselves to experience all aspects of it to tap into its vastness, its beauty, and its eternal and creative flow.
Recently, I have founded the Atlantic Raag Sangeet Community to promote and celebrate the music and culture of India in the Maritimes, particularly Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia). I offer no-fees music lessons to children aged 5-10. Through my adventures in learning and sharing music, I have been supported by my wife, Dr. Nayha Acharya (professor of law at Dalhousie University). Nayha is also a musician who accompanies me on violin and supports my teaching in the children’s class.