Mr. Shailendra Mishra- a well known Tabla player with high regards in the music field has a Master’s Degree in Music (percussion) and is an ‘A’ grade artist of ‘All India Radio’ (AIR) and Doordarshan (T.V.). His association with the stalwarts of music and teaching experience of more than 17 years has given him a unique place in the music world Gurus. He has been awarded with the Hirendra Kumar Ganguli Award, from State Music Academy of West Bengal.
A teacher is not just the one who teaches regular academic subjects in school or colleges. A teacher is anyone who teaches us in some way or the other. A mother is a child’s first teacher. Similarly, there are so many courses and activities through which the personality of a student is influenced in a positive way. One such activity is learning music. Any student of music needs an able guru to take him/ her through the musical journey. A music teacher is the one who instructs individuals or groups in vocal or instrumental music and fosters music appreciation.
We have taken an email interview with one of the eminent personalities in the field of Music, Mr. Shailendra Mishram. He has contributed a lot in this field for which he had been awarded with many recognitions in India and abroad. Mr. Mishra has a Master’s Degree in Music (percussion) and is an ‘A’ Grade artist of ‘All India Radio’ (AIR) and Doordarshan. He is a well-known Tabla player with high regard in the music field. His association with the stalwarts of music and teaching experience of more than 17 years has given him a unique place in the world of music. He represents both Banaras and Farrukkhabad Gharanas. He has been awarded the Hirendra Kumar Ganguli Award from State Music Academy of West Bengal.
In this email interview, he addresses some of the concerns about education system and some issues specific to teaching music in a setup focused on academic subjects.
BT: Could you please tell us something about yourself?
Mr. Mishra: I was born in a middle class Hindu family. Since my childhood, I have led a cultural and disciplined life in my family. I have one brother and one sister. I was always inclined towards music other than the academics. My father was the one who spotted the musician in me and so he sincerely bought a Tabla for me and arranged a guru for me to guide me in the world of Indian music.
I did not realize when I was deeply involved with Tabla playing and music. Although I was performing from the age of 8years, but professionally I started playing Tabla and teaching this unique art, when I was 18 years of age.
As I was from a middle class family, I required a job in order to survive in today’s expensive world. I refused a few government jobs which I refused because I wanted to pursue this musical art. There were a lot of questions running into my parents mind, regarding the financial security of the family (to earn a livelihood because music is still considered not the authentic source of employment in our society), social security (in our society music is still considered as a hobby not as the medium to survive) etc. but, I knew that I will overcome all the challenges.
Now, I am very happy that I have a job which is related to music. I am performing in India and abroad. I am teaching to Indians as well as students from abroad and enjoying my life. I have written few articles like “importance of repetition in music”, ‘importance of silence in music” etc. I have got all that I wanted and ever wished for.
BT: When did you start your career?
Mr. Mishra: I started my career as a teacher and instructor when I was around 18 years old.
BT: Could you please tell us some of your achievements in the field of Teaching and Education?
Mr. Mishra: I started teaching the rhythm in music in general and the art of Tabla playing in particular to students in India and abroad. I have innumerable number of students all over India and abroad. I conduct workshops and interactive sessions all over the world. I had the privilege of being sent by the Indian government to Malaysia to promote the Indian music and culture amongst the people of Malaysia for 4 years where I taught students about all forms of music and the art of Tabla playing and rhythmic patterns. I collaborated with the musicians and conducted workshops and attended seminars on music.
BT: Do you think teaching is a difficult profession?
Mr. Mishra: No. Teaching is not a difficult profession but the infrastructure in India is not very encouraging for the teachers of any field. Teachers are the ones who imbibe character in students (students spend half of the day with the teachers in the school). Teachers are made responsible for everything students do but there is very less reward which they get. Salary wise also teachers generally are not paid their dues.
If we talk about the music teachers it is the worst. They are sometimes exploited too (financially). Still teachers do their duties sincerely hoping that someday it will be better place for teachers in India.
BT: What do you think are the flaws in our education system?
Mr. Mishra: Since I am into music I will only talk about the music teachers. Music has been made compulsory in the schools but still it has not been included in curriculum as a subject in most of the schools. The result is that in schools, this subject does not get the proper attention and importance. Students also take it lightly without knowing that music affects one personality in a positive way.
Only one or two music teachers are employed irrespective of the requirements in the school. Those limited teachers teach almost all the instruments and styles. There should be different instruments and special teachers to teach them. Also, there is always lack of good auditorium and sound system in the schools.
There are no such strict norms by the education department to the schools about such issues. The result is that the fate of music teachers and the students are left to the hands of the school management who always think that it is wise to cut cost and save the expenditure of the school by not meeting all the above mentioned arrangements.
BT: What are your hobbies?
Mr. Mishra: I love watching cricket and being into the natural world like wild safaris, national park, etc.
BT: Do you want to continue being in the profession of teaching forever?
Mr. Mishra: As long as I am alive I will remain into music. Music is my life, I will keep on teaching.
BT: What do you think are your valuable contributions to your students?
Mr. Mishra: I always encourage young students who are willing to learn and who understand Indian music and rhythm. I guide them to become professionals in this field and make them understand the importance of music in their lives and tell them that music is the way to become a good human being. Music brings peace and harmony within the self, in the society and the whole world.
BT: Any message for your fans, students and our teachers’ community?
Mr. Mishra: To my fans, I would like to say that support me and please stand together with me in promoting the art of Tabla playing. Please help me to bring up the status of Tabla from accompanying instrument to a solo instrument.
To the students, I would like to say that please try to learn any form of music along with your studies. May it be vocal, sitar, Tabla, violin, piano anything because music not only soothes your soul, but it also helps in concentrating more on the studies. It brings more sensitivity and aesthetic sense. It creates a pleasing personality with full of positive approaches in your life. It saves you from your activities which are mere wastage of time.
For teachers, I would like to say that being a teacher is not enough. I request them to understand the basic values of a teacher rather than just being a teacher as their profession. There is a lot more responsibility than teaching a subject. Teachers should make their music interesting and try to involve the students in a creative was rather than just teaching few songs or rhythmic patterns. Here I would like to mention that unless the school management is not wide open to the demands of the teachers it will be useless to just give advise to the teachers. They should have the proper infrastructure then only we can expect them to be a guru than a teacher.
BT: Thank you, Sir, for your valuable time. We are obliged and honored to share your experiences and thoughts with the Beyond Teaching community.
To know more about Mr. Shailendra Mishra, visit his official website: www.shailendramishra.com