I recently taught my first class here in India. My primary work here is to improve as a Dhrupad singer, but I’m also doing a bit of teaching. I was SUPER nervous about the class. I didn’t know how the Indian students would react to learning about Western classical music, but they loved it. They even clapped at the end of the class! The Indian students are much more reserved than my American students. It’s nice not to be challenged on every single point, though I wouldn’t mind if they shared their thoughts a little more. I’m not sure if that’s a general cultural difference or something specific to this population.
I teach the class about every other week, just for an hour or so. Eventually we’ll look at musicians like Terry Riley, Rudresh Mahanthappa, etc, who are working with one foot in India and one foot in the West (which is also much of my work). But to get there I need to give them an overview of Western music, including some basic theory and notation.
So the first class we looked at chant and early polyphony. Gorgeous stuff. Next week we’ll get into some Renaissance polyphony and start discussing harmony a bit.
It’s a little weird being the teacher when Gurujis are sitting there. I’m in a bit of a limbo here since I’m a professional musician and expert on Western music, but still a beginner/intermediate Dhrupad singer and very much a student. But it’s working out okay. The other students are already asking me about the next class. I’m excited to work with them again. The cultural exchange is really happening now.