Through the high volume of freelance work I have carried out over the years, I have been fortunate and lucky to have met and built so many connections with wonderful and inspiring individuals. As someone who is pretty restless (a typical Aries trait!), I now want the challenge of starting my own project from scratch. Building up the confidence to do this has not been easy. Through the support and blessings of special individuals and beating my own self limiting beliefs, I have managed to get there! Looking back is not an option anymore.
I had a lightening moment last year in November which led me to take inspired action. I sent a group e-mail to some dear musician friends of mine and sounded out the idea of us working together and creating our own music. I have had the great pleasure of working with them individually and know they have a lot of talent so it felt right to now pool it together. Fortunately, they agreed and we met up and just played. I was clear with them that this project must have a goal; otherwise we will be doing a disservice to potential audiences who may like our music. As we had a clear focus on sharing and performing, our creativity held no boundaries. The name ‘Speaking Hands’ popped into my mind because all of us play instruments with our hands, but the music that comes out of them is full of energy and emotion. I also wanted a dance element because there are certain traits in our pieces that can be beautifully expressed through the gestures and provocative movements of dance.
What am I learning in the process?
I take full responsibility for this project because I owe it to the musicians and dancers who believe in this. We have spent time rehearsing and the musicians have travelled to be a part of it. I have spent more time co-ordinating, talking to organisers/venues than playing! This leadership role has come to me naturally and I enjoy the challenges of it as I know there will be a lot more to come!
Making it Happen
Utilising the connections I have made within the sector, I approached artistic directors to support our project. We are now in the process of producing and we will hopefully be showcasing ‘Speaking Hands’ towards the end of the year. I will definitely keep you updated on the developments, because this is only the beginning.
I will be misguiding you if I was to say that politics never occurs in my line of work. The truth is that politics is absolutely everywhere. However it is up to you as the director of your destiny to decide how you manage it. Politics works at many levels. Here are some examples. You have:
a) Groups/organisations/individuals that aggressively look to gain solely for themselves at whatever cost. I call them the ‘bulldozers’.
b) People who decide never to get involved with politics but as they are not in the loop, they continue doing the same thing and not getting the desired results.
c) Finally, the ones who are more subtle and shrewd. They are clear in what they want but will look at win/win situations so that everyone involved in a process is valued.
Where do you fall under?
I used to fall under B) big time. I was sabotaging myself thinking I could do things for myself or even worst, expecting change to happen. Only when I consciously changed my circle, made adjustments to my personal development was I then starting to connect with key players and gatekeepers. I am a lot better now at sifting out the BS! 😉
The angle I am coming from is that politics can be seen as a good thing if everyone involved in a particular process is properly valued as a stakeholder and also benefit from what you are offering. You MUST identify the key people in your area that can ignite your career. If they come to you naturally, that is fantastic but if not, you may require you to schmooze occasionally! However, if it benefits your career and you are not hurting the other person but rather appealing to their interests, go for it! This is where you are becoming example C)
Dale Carnegie’ How to win friends and influence people’.
It was very important for me to transfer the skills I learnt from my various law degrees to the creative sector; research being the main one. I love accumulating knowledge and learning as much as possible about the creative industry I work in. Attending courses has enabled me to be a more effective practitioner and allow me to honestly assess my career pathway. It can sometimes be that one iota of advice that can positively change your personal/career outlook. Here is a list to the types of workshops/ courses I attended over the past year:
- ‘Making New Music CPD’ More Music
- ‘Introduction to Market Research’, WISE(Working in Social Enterprise)
- ‘Professional Development Planning Workshop’, Creative Leicestershire
- ‘Education Conference-Embedding Creativity in the Primary Curriculum’, The Mighty Creative’s
- ‘Unpicking Social Media’ A-N /Creative Leicestershire
- ‘Skills Boost and Leadership Programme’, Performing Arts Leicester
- ‘Business Start Up Workshops’ B-Inspired
Each of these workshops has been pivotal to my development whether as a musician, teacher or entrepreneur. My networks have drastically opened up and options made available to me that I never thought were possible. For example, I have a much wider list of key players to draw upon whether it is for a specific music/teaching project, careers advice or just a coffee catch up! The great part is that most of these courses are FREE. All it costs is your time and drive to change which can sometimes be more expensive than paying for the course itself!
One of my goals has always been to give back and empower the next generation of creative’s. By attending these courses and spending time with the inspirational individuals who ran them, I have been injected with empowering fuel and belief to do this and keep raising the bar in my own art form!
Is it worth it?
Yes! If you ever attend a workshop always go in with an open mind because there will always be something positive to take away. Sometimes you might not get the answer you were looking for, but when you later reflect you will have lots of ‘AHA’ moments! The picture below is with my wonderful colleagues/friends from Performing Arts Leicester.
All the best and always ask yourself, how can I be of better service to the world?
YoTabla! was a concept that came to me in 2011. Being an Indian musician you can spend up to many hours sat on the floor. Playing the tabla requires immense strength and dexterity. This is why I teach yoga exercises to my students so they maintain flexibility and core strength. Also as music students, we process a lot of information so being sharp in our minds is just as important. We practice meditation and breathing techniques so that we feel calm and prepared for the class. There is a huge amount of research to show the correlation between arts participation and its positive impact on wellbeing. I will need to do a separate blog post just on this subject alone!
The rate at which I have seen tabla student’s progress has been wonderful. The positive attitude and love they show towards their learning is really encouraging. The yoga techniques they learn are not only applicable to music but to their everyday lives. Many of the students I teach are young, so it knocks off a few years of my age as well! Some of the students have already had the experience of performing and accompanying instrumentalists which is a testament to their hard work and encouragement by the wonderful parents. I am looking forward to seeing them further develop and most importantly be good role models. We have a spring retreat in April which will be fairly intense, so the current students will get the chance to ‘turbo’ their development. However we will be having lots of fun as well. I’m hoping the weather is great, so that we can do yoga outside and of course play football in the park!
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the supporters of Yo-Tabla! It is going from strength to strength only because of the positive energy that students, parents, music teachers and admirers have shown towards it.
Here is a small video of our Yo-Tabla classes.
I felt the need to start a blog to share my experiences and challenges of being a musician. I want to give audiences an insight into what it is like to be a full time musician, but to also to use this blog as a medium for artists to be inspired and empowered by their art form. Excuse the cliche, but we really do make a difference and the sooner we realise this and make adjustments the world will open up for us. I will share tips with you on how to create opportunities for yourself. The first one is:
1) Identify your circle of influence. Find the people who inspire you and are regularly taking action whether it is in their professional or personal life!
There are some projects, I am working on at the moment. I want to give you an exclusive insight as to my thought processes.
See you soon