I’m delighted that over the last few days I’ve actually managed to unpack my books and, more importantly, my Tabla and Sitar. After six months in the UK and failing to purchase or borrow either (despite many attempts to procure some), I have forgotten quite a bit and lost the ability in my right hand to play the Tabla and in my left first finger to play the Sitar. Still, after a few days of practise it was all starting to come back.
Imagine my horror though, when – after just one lesson since we’ve returned to Bangladesh – my Tabla teacher tells me he is pleased with my progress and is sure my skill on the Sitar is just as good and how about I perform on the Sitar with himself accompanying on the Tabla at the Bangla New Year celebrations (in March, I think). “Absolutely not” I said most certainly, “I am nowhere near good enough”. He then pointed out that no one plays the Sitar in this area and, indeed, not many play it at all in the country. No one will know if I play a raga a little incorrectly or don’t follow a strict structure as ragas should be played – no one is likely to really know that. Besides, he points out, it would be good to introduce it to people here. If a Bideshi (foreigner) can enjoy playing the Sitar, how much more the people whose country to whom it belongs?
There is great merit to this thought and part of me finds it attractive. My whole teaching life has been spent trying to encourage (young) minds to love learning and try out new things. Most of that time it has been with music even though these days it is maths and science – so this would be an opportunity to encourage nationals to engage with music that is already theirs but, sadly, dying out.
That would be fine if I wasn’t so terrified at the idea of playing the thing in front of a large audience. Everyone comes out for Pohela Boishakh and it is a big deal here at LAMB. I can’t think of many things I would find scarier. I don’t like playing solo at the best of times! We’ll have to see what happens. Maybe the idea will pass and my teacher won’t mention it again. Maybe I will be able to get out of it. Maybe I will say “heck, let’s give it a go!”
I’d better get practising though – just in case…