Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur define my musical influences and inspiration, Vox Coach which is my entrepreneurial venture for professional vocal techniques defines my go-getter personality that strongly bonds with its inner voice, and my family, close friends’ circle and well wishers fuel my motivation and character. There was a set of verses that I once wrote titled “I AM” which spoke about how all the people I’ve come across became pieces of me and made me the person that I AM. This is my strongest belief as a human being and musician that, we are made of experiences and bits of personalities that had an impact on us.
I love spending a good chunk of time by myself during any given day and my attempts are at making this happen as regularly as possible. To an outsider, it might seem like a good amount of precious time going to waste but to me, this process itself is precious which in turn makes the time precious. Time on its own is nothing without the value we add to it. Now, the only thing that might differ is what is of value to you as compared to another person. Somewhere in this societal rigmarole, for lack of “time”, we blindly follow rules which became rules because everybody decided on following something that was set by some people who had the “time” to do so. They did it for reasons meaningful to them, but we blindly follow. My personal observation is that many of us do not bother analyzing or do not have the capacity to tap into this analytical potential of our brains. Alone time helps nurture this process in a most organic manner that nothing else can. It is as important as meeting different kinds of people and taking something from those networks and connections. Being a coach myself (vocal coach), I won’t hesitate to say coaches but save time. That is their job; they hasten the process of learning which is anyway a possibility on its own if one makes the time. In this day and age, we are all competing at 10 times the rate as compared to 10 – 15 years ago. Our strength to analyze and tell right (for oneself) from wrong (for oneself) is all the more important now, you see? This is true not only for the musical fraternity but any other profession.
As is obvious from my writing, I’m a very spiritual person and well connected with myself, and a deep thinker and analyst. Now that this introduction has been made with great clarity (or inspiring confusion? something to ponder over), I must share with you my brave journey from lecturing at Mount Carmel College to founding Vox Coach. Being a person used to knowledge based learning where facts were fed to us and all we had to do was spit them out at exam time, it was a turning point to be on the other side of the classroom, not having any idea as to how to teach in an effective manner. But thankfully, my communication skills came to my rescue and while I kept students enamoured with them, I learnt from some very knowledgeable people, research tactics and learner-centric teaching. My focus started shifting to students and how they must receive information and whether it will be applicable in future. It was like a 6.5 year long fest as Chemistry faculty at MCC. However, in my heart of hearts I knew that wasn’t my calling. I lived a stone’s throw from college, had a timely pay package coming in and was one of the coolest & youngest lecturers on campus then, if I may say so myself. Yet I felt a tad empty. Fortunately, one day my inner voice screamed asking me to voice my thoughts, and I finally communicated my feelings of wanting to leave my second home, to some of the best teachers, my colleagues and my lovely students. They were shocked but, supportive. My parents looked at me as though I’d gone crazy but they too supported me. I guess your energies send across strong messages to other people, that cannot be missed, and my energies were right-positive! Thus, this decision was received well. I did a lot of education centred, excellent work thereafter and dabbled in content writing too. But now, the hiding alter ego of my inner voice (you won’t believe) started to scream even louder asking me to acknowledge it. This was the real version of “me” which ALWAYS LOVED MUSIC! I was trained as any other Brahmin kid, in carnatic music but fate had it that we had to break up in order for me to pass with flying colours in my teacher-centric, knowledge based education. I didn’t fly too high on that front but enough for people to keep their noses out of my business. Quickly switching back to after MCC-I finally wanted to tell the whole world (in direct speech) “I WANT TO SINGGGGGG”. Of course my family heard me and were perfectly fine with it as they saw no future in it for me professionally. How sweet. But let me clarify, that doesn’t translate to their lack of faith in my capabilities. They knew I’d do something! This particular occurrence is a classic case with anybody with supportive parents; they will support you as long as you have something else to fall back on; a very good approach indeed. I knew the basics- scales, rhythm, tempo, pitching, etc. but my voice felt like a frog was stuck in it and like that frog was croaking every time I tried to sing. The interim between attempting flying colours in my education and surprising everybody who thought they knew me very well, made me lose my vocal flexibility. I searched high and low and went from pillar to post to find that “something” that will release my physical tension. This was year 2014, just after I’d dropped the bomb on my department people about moving out of college and exploring moving mountains. Hah! That’s a likely plan my inner voice said, without any hint of sarcasm whatsoever. I briefly went to Bangalore School of Music to train in ABRSM certification course in western vocal, with the late Victor Abraham. I love the man and miss him dearly. I didn’t learn vocal techniques there; heck! I didn’t even know what they were called back then, but I formed a great musical connection with him and kept bothering him to assess my renditions even long after. I started google searching solutions to my voice problems with different queries, and like god descending upon earth, Eric Arceneaux, a well known vocal coach from the USA, popped up in my query list. He made these techniques seem so simple and effective, which they were. For 1 year I blindly practised for at least 2 hours everyday locked up in my room because I experienced magical results. I still didn’t know what I would do with my life but I wasn’t scared at all. I was doing the right thing! An ex-chemistry student contacted me one day asking me to train her in vocal techniques so she could sing better. She was following my Facebook posts like many others had started to. I tossed my hair back and thought why not! I knew how to design courses and make frameworks. She was my first student who inspired me to “research” voice science, and within 2 months I had 4 students. Now, almost nearing 2 years from then, I’ve covered almost 100 plus students and have two wonderful ex-students as my vocal coaches and co-facilitators for Vox Coach. If you think my cap’s colourful enough, we’re definitely missing a feather if I don’t mention my association with Shankar Mahadevan Academy as a project head for their education based audit, in year 2016. Shankar Mahadevan himself heartily congratulated me on the success of its execution and now, the founder and CEO, Mr. Sridhar Ranganathan is my informal advisor, confidante and mentor.
I am Indian but while I like Indian music and songs and also sing them as part of training my students and feeding my curiosity about how these singing techniques differ from those of the western world, I will say that it is alright to sing the kind of songs that strike a chord with you. For me, those genres would be R&B and hip hop. I always wonder whether I was black in my previous life; jest-worthy but pretty serious a thought, for introspection. The vocal coach who inspired me is now in touch with me, follows my work and has mentioned that I inspire him! Many big names who needn’t have supported me, have recognized my potential and given me platforms and contacts that will be conducive to my growth. I often imagined myself on a stage with a huge audience cheering at me like in Michael Jackson’s concerts. Would you believe me if I told you that this visual actually converted although maybe on a smaller scale? Well, it did! Dreams can come true but only if you know yourself well enough, give yourself time, meet people and take from them what gives you positive energies, and lastly allow yourself to give in to your inner voice. Remember that little voice in your head asking you not to jump off a moving bus? When you listened to it then, why wouldn’t you otherwise? It’s looking out for you. It’s the energies of the universe talking to you. This world is magical. We have ample energy in our surroundings and the universe to tap into. If you’re scared to act on your inner voice’s suggestions, take examples of people like me who did so and therefore know with more clarity as to where to head to, next. It’s very important to take this route sensibly bearing in mind financial crises and other stakes. But it’s not impossible. I believe that I will go to the USA and work with my favourite music producers and vocal coaches, in the near future. I’m working hard and prepping myself with a smile. Why wait for another indicator to digest that probably you should’ve paid heed to this voice the previous time? After all, you don’t want to waste time isn’t it? We can work with this voice too-the inner voice.