The students of Mahabhodi never seize to surprise me with their innate talents. Every week I discover a new child prodigy with some new hidden gift. The kids are extremely active in cultural activities and all of them are very used to dressing up in traditional clothing and performing Ladakhi folk songs for the tourist who come visit our campus, as often as 2 times a week. This very routine keeps them deeply rooted to their traditions and heritage while music, dance and community get togethers’ form the backbone of the campus grounds.
A group of senior class students have a natural ear for music. Most of them discovered their inclination towards music when as young as 6 years old and each one has an interesting passion filled story to tell about their love for music. One of them narrated an anecdote of how he wanted to play the traditional Ladhaki drum, the Dhamal, so much as a child, that he would come back from cultural shows and pretend-play-it on tin cans just like their big bhayyas’ did. The students are also a part of a marching band which is one of the best in the city of Leh. For them music is everything, a stress buster, their identity, their passion and an out let for their feelings.
As a part of a project, the past two weeks, a group of senior students decided to bring about a musical revolution in their school and teach the junior class kids music with the idea of spreading their love for music. They wanted to initiate it with kids at a much younger age than when they learnt it themselves. They started out but soon realized that there were not enough musical instruments to teach a class of 30 and so they looked around and came up with an idea of turning waste materials into musical instruments. They believe that music is all around us all the time and urge people to notice it too. I love listening to these kids for hours and their passion filled stories bring me to tears. I kid you not!
Even at age 14 and 15 the kind of initiative they are demonstrating is tremendous. The head boy and the school council managed to pull off a week long project even with their Board exams starting in 5 days!! (If that was me I would’ve buried my face in books as I used to hate exams as a child.) They also invited the legendary musician, Sir Angchuk Ralam, also known as the flute man of Ladakh, to conduct a workshop on how to make innovative music with everyday items. Most famous for his MTV gig – Sound trippin’ with the song Juh leh, sir Angchuk Ley now works with the prestigious All India Radio Station, Leh; after having founded a local NGO, SECMOL and building it from scratch for 3 years. It was humbling to see a man so famous be so down to earth and he inspired the students with stories about his childhood adventures, his struggles as a musician, his passions, the value of music and his words of wisdom. The kids learnt how to make a flute with PVC pipes, a Jal Tarang with china bowls and the idea of a coconut maracas. The workshop was followed by a free jam session with a melodious combination of traditional music instruments playing Tibetan Folk songs to later popular tunes of Bollywood.
The past week, the school has been enchanted in the musical tunes of Traditional Tibetian and Ladaki Folksongs, Amir khan’s Bum Bum bole, One Direction, Justin Bieber, Bob Marley, Classic Rock hits and Honey Singh. Jamming with buckets, dustbins, glass bottles, cardboard boxes and wooden sticks has been more fun than anything ever! Just being around them makes your soul come alive.
Leaving you with images of the workshop. A video on the whole project to follow soon, stay tuned.
Its not everyday you meet a celebrity so humble and inspiring