National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai has come up with its 7th edition of Music Scholarships, and is open for applications. This time on, they have collaborated with Citi Bank Jointly and the scholarship is called ‘Citi-NCPA Music Scholarship’.  The 2015 edition features scholarships for advance training in Hindustani Music: Vocal -Dhrupad and Khayal, Instrumental -Tabla and Pakhawaj. Since a long time, NCPA has been committed to preserve and propagate the rich and cultural heritage of Indian and International music, dance, film, literature and photography.

Coming to promote music, so far NCPA has helped 11 scholars in deepening their art, skill and mastering over their talent. This year again, nine outstanding scholars would be awarded with this scholarship after facing a tough competition. In a telephonic conversation with Guardian 20, Dr Suvarnalata Rao, Head Programming – Indian Music, NCPA, talked about the details of this scholarship.

Q. Since how long has the NCPA been offering Scholarships for Hindustani Music?

A. For last seven years NCPA has been offering Scholarship to the underprivileged students. Our strength has increased each year. We also visit schools to make them understand about the value of music as not many schools offer music classes.

Q. How many applications do you receive in a year?

A. We receive applications from 25-30 for concerts. This year we have targeted the major cities for scholarships and music festivals as it helps in creating awareness about the programme meant for those who want to seriously indulge in music.

Q. Is the programme meant primarily for young people, or can older musicians also apply? 

A. The aim of the programme is to identify nine scholars in the age group of 18 to 28 years and support them throughout a year (2015-2016). The age group is such that after a certain age a person cannot do much in his music. People need to start it early as it should be taken as a part of a body. The early it is, the better it is. Music should be in the soul of the musician. It takes serious practice and devotion to excel in it.

Q. How does this scholarship help in making the younger generations more aware of our musical heritage?

A. Scholarship helps in supporting the candidate financially. It is a kind of stipend given to the music for learning music. We help the students as teachers also charge for teaching and training student therefore, we try to make them self-sufficient for a year.

Q. Do you think Hindustani classical music’s popularity has declined in the last few years?

A. No, I do not think so. It needs to be supported. Despite the present canon of musicians, young people who are trained in it do not like to perform. It does not come like this. It needs practice, dedication and devotion to inculcate the art of music in oneself. It should be promoted and propagated.

Q.  What exactly is ‘Citi-NCPA Guru Shishya Program’? How does it work?

A. Scholarship is one aspect of it. The scholarship consists of four joint programmes curated by Citi Bank and NCPA. First, we support the Gurus. Secondly, we support the disciples. Thirdly, we are reaching out schools for some engagement with music and underprivileged ones who want to pursue music. Fourthly, we invite big artists and several gurus from different cities to perform on stage. The NCPA has launched this ‘Guru-Shisya’ programme in which Gurus are financially supported to train or discipline the students and similarly worthy disciples are given scholarships to support their training. And after six months, the disciple is assessed on his/her training.

Q. What is ‘Citi-NCPA Aadi Anant’ Program? How does it help students of music?

A. The ‘Citi-NCPA Aadi Anant’ is the travelling music festival as I said it earlier that where we offer people at large an opportunity to experience Indian classical music maestros as well as upcoming musicians on a single stage. We also welcome several disciples to perform if they are outstanding.

Q.  What is ‘The ‘Citi-NCPA Music for Kids’? Do you think there is a need to generate interest among the kids for Indian classical music?

A. The ‘Citi-NCPA Music for Kids’ a program aimed at cultivating an interest in music amongst young children. It is meant for creating personality. Every child cannot be performer but has the right to engage with music. There is hardly any school which teaches music. Therefore, it is an effort to generate awareness among the young folk who need to be nurtured for learning music whether it is Indian or International music.

Q. Do you think a scholarship of Rs.7,500/- per month is enough for the each student’s training?

A. Nothing is enough. But we try to help those who cannot afford this. This helps to some extent and encourages students to be a part of this scholarship.

Q. What exactly do you aim to achieve with the NCPA scholarship in the years to come?

A. I want all scholars to become performers. The scholarship aims to open up their personality and give them a strong base in music. I want all of them to take up music seriously. Gurus are the repository of music and have valuable compositions which young musicians need to learn. This cycle of imparting and sharing music needs to continue. We need to make this happen.

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