Today as I was fondly remembering the time I spent mentoring Hari Sivanesan, a brilliant veena player from London, I thought of writing about my experience.
In 2011 when the BBC approached me for their mentorship program by ‘Radio 3’s World Routes Academy’, I was very excited to be a part of this unique experience. As I thought more about it, I realised even though somewhat similar to teaching, mentoring will also be vastly different so I decided to present an overview of my field of work to this young talented artist – who already had a teacher (Sivasakthi Sivanesan, one of the UK’s foremost Carnatic music exponents) and had been performing in his own right.
Firstly, I explained to him in detail how I prepare for my concerts – to give him a glimpse of my process that I had learned and honed from my experience of performing through the years. I thought that this knowledge would be useful to him when he prepares for his own concerts. Secondly, I shared with him my approach to performance and how I combine that with my music. I told him where I draw my inspiration for each concert and how that helps me build my repertoire for it.
Besides sharing insights, the mentorship also involved a fair amount of teaching. We worked on several pieces and using each piece as a peg, I would tell him how I felt about it and how I would go about presenting it.
I also wanted him to think and slowly choose the direction he would like to take. Hari was working in London in a full-time job and on top of that had to find time to pursue his music. I knew from my personal journey that at one point, he would have to make a choice – whether to continue working on both or to give up one for the other. I felt that I could give him a better sense of identity and grounding as a musician that would help him view himself in a different light and after that, he could make an informed decision on which path he would like to take in life and pin-point the areas he would have to grow in order to progress in his chosen path.
We had a wonderful time discussing music, we even travelled to Tanjavor to experience the heart of Carnatic music.
We performed together at a BBC Prom concert at Royal Albert Hall and it was the fist Prom solely devoted to Carnatic music.
You can watch a video on this below.
In Hari Sivanesan’s own words- “It’s time for Carnatic music – India’s music of the South – to shine in the West, and I’m looking forward to diving into the roots of our music further.”