“Indians And Japanese Must Preserve Their Culture”
Santoor artiste Takahiro Arai writes about his guru, lessons and practice.
My journey in Indian classical music began with ragas Sohini and Des. At 24, I heard Pandit Ravi Shankar’s sitar on a record, and at 25, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma’s santoor. I was mesmerised. However, I could not fully understand what was happening in their music. Coming across a new language of music opened doors to a realisation. I was playing drums for 10 years and still could not even count the music. I was shocked. I thought I should learn this music. I found Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma’s disciple in Japan. His name is Setsuo Miyashita. He became my first guru. Miyashita’s lessons, my practice, and a growing urge to learn Indian classical music led me to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. I became his disciple. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has not only taught me music, but also given me lessons on life.
I am really lucky to have got such a great and humble guru. I have been traveling with Guruji in India and abroad since 2009. Learning, during his presence on the dais, is a precious experience. I get lessons on improvisation, on the contact and connect with the tabla artiste and audience, on preparations for concerts, and sound check. Guruji and Hariji’s (Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia) jugalbandi is a perfect combination and duet. They understand each other personally and it reflects in their music. Their music has left a huge impact on me. It is very important to play jugalbandi. During practice, I try to feel that I am not playing the santoor, someone else is. Guruji (Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma) has told me that it is an easy way to understand where we are going wrong. For me, it is difficult to reproduce music on santoor even now. Guruji allowed recording of all lessons, so I can listen and repeat, and repeat.
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