Anusri Mittal

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At age five Anusri attended her brother’s tabla lesson but was powerfully drawn to the melodies of sitars being played nearby. Four years later, in 2010, she found the SPK Academy and began to learn sitar in the Etawah tradition. She was nine years old. However, there was a major obstacle to overcome, as her family moved to China that summer. Thus she became the Academy’s first Skype student, waking up at 6 in the morning to accommodate the time difference. When Anusri finally got the opportunity to study with Ustadji in person at shibirs and workshops, she had yet another obstacle to overcome - her innate shyness. Once again love for the music prevailed as she traveled from her new home in Detroit to learn in Phoenix. Anusri’s progess on the instrument attests to her level of dedication. She presently lives in California.

When you started the sitar, did the influence of your parents affect your decision to learn?

It was my choice to start, but sometimes they would force me to practice. Now I’ve realized that if I want to progress, I need to practice.

Do you enjoy playing sitar?

I do enjoy it. Even if I’m doing something else, I’ll find myself playing taans in my head.

What is your favorite raag?

Yaman.

Have you been to any shibirs?

I attended a shibir many years ago and then one in Phoenix last January. It’s a very creative environment; there’s always people practicing, you can hear sitar everywhere. It’s a perfect time to just focus on sitar.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m graduating from Valencia High School next May, and plan to attend a four-year college, to major in either marketing or international relations. I also want to continue learning Chinese.

Do you have a specific musical goal?

Yes, I want to be able to play all of the pieces where I pull, and do it comfortably.

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share about the Academy?

SPK Academy has been a great experience, and I’m very happy to have been a part of it for the last eight years. Everyone is very encouraging. And it’s such an honor to learn with Ustadji, I’m very thankful for that.

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Ustadji says Anusri has all the qualities necessary to become a fine sitarist. She has shown both commitment and talent and he encourages her to follow her musical dream.  











The SPK Academy Learning Experience

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Many music academies exist, but few that rigorously uphold the tradition of the guru-student relationship, or guru-shishya parampara; here at SPK Academy, this is the foremost pillar of our foundation. Though Ustadji uses a variety of more modern techniques, such as Skype, to impart his musical knowledge, the tradition itself remains intact. However, no amount of online lessons can replace the experience of in-person lessons, for it is not only material being taught, by observing the guru, how he lives apart from music, his philosophies, personality, only then can his music be more deeply understood, and ultimately, played.

It is at a shibir, a three-day music camp, where the magic happens, where for those three days, no matter how long it has been, we are instantly at home in the company of our fellow students and Ustadji.

One student writes, “...Shibirs. Weekends away from everything, when I can truly focus on my passion - music. These amazing events give me a chance to spend first hand time with those I consider family, and at the heart of it all is my guru, my Ustad.”

~Avichal Jha

To the newcomer, the first shibir can be very intimidating, but by the third or fourth, one knows what to expect, and what is expected of him or her, but even within the usual shibir schedule, it is really Ustadji’s mood that dictates the flow of the shibir. It is not an easy art, but like all difficult things, every minute of hard work and practice is rewarded in the end. Whether you are simply curious or wish to pursue music seriously, a shibir is the place to experience Ustadji’s music in all its brilliance; it is the place to discover and or deepen musical love.

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Workshops provide a shibir-like environment that is accommodating to those who cannot attend shibirs, due to busy work schedules, as well as a supplement to keep students on track as shibirs are usually spaced several months apart. At workshops, students can receive undivided attention from Ustadji.

Skype lessons with Ustadji offer musical training to students who are travelling or unable to attend workshops or shibirs, and are an invaluable tool we can use to stay connected to music.

Senior students Gagandeep and Jay shared their thoughts on Skype lessons.

“I would describe Skype lessons with Ustad ji as a great medium of instruction. It's as real as it can get to replicate a one on one in-person experience of learning from Ustadji. What I like most about Skype classes is that the content of class is tailor-made to suit your individual learning needs. It's Ustadji speciality to come down to the level of the learner, irrespective of his/her proficiency level or command of the instrument.”

~Gagandeep Singh

 

“It provides priceless one on one time with Ustadji, something that can be very difficult to obtain during a large shibir or group workshop. When the Shagirds get together, we always ask each other, "Have you had any Skype lessons? What are you working on?”

~Jay Matrona

Each mode of learning offers something unique, but the combination of shibirs, workshops, and Skype lessons fulfills all of a student’s musical needs, making for a complete learning experience.

Featured Student- Anna Morgan

Our new segment for the blog this year is SPK Academy’s Featured Student. We will be choosing 4 – 6 students each year to feature as part of this segment.

These students will have shown exceptional dedication to their music and incredible improvement in their technical ability with the sitar during their time with us. They will also exemplify the qualities that our academy stands for and wish to foster as we continue to build our musical community.

Winter 2015 Shibir

SPK Academy hopes you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday and are set for a New Year filled with music! To make the most of what the Academy’s offerings be sure and check our Learning Sessions page often as we plan to update it regularly throughout the coming year. The Academy’s New Year got off to a great start over MLK day weekend, hosting the first shibir of 2015 in Phoenix. As always, students traveled from every corner of the United States and Canada to attend.

Interview: Chai with Manju

When Sitar Maestro Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan and tabla Maestro Pandit Anindo Chatterjee performed together at the historic Paine Hall at Harvard University in September, their recital was mesmerizing, leaving the audience raptured in a total wow. What made the show inimitable was the on-stage chemistry of the two artists. The following day, Ustad Parvez Khan sat down with Chai With Manju for an exclusive interview during which he talked about his life, music and memories.