Delhi has certainly lived up to its reputation as an exciting and busy city, and we have found plenty of opportunities to become involved with music through our teaching and through the friends we have made at the school - the Performers Collective in Gurgaon.
The students I am teaching are all enthusiastic and hardworking, although they are often very busy with school work which, unfortunately, takes priority over practice. I am teaching a range of abilities from beginners to post-grade 8, and have quickly discovered the advantages of planning lessons well in advance! New admissions are steadily being added to our timetable, and we plan to hold a performance workshop towards the end of our stay in order to showcase the work we have done with the students.
I have two students preparing for exams in November, a Grade 5 ABRSM candidate and a Grade 2 TrinityGuildhall candidate. Both have worked with me to improve their sightreading (which is a common theme running throughout all of my students) as their teachers tend to focus on the preparation of pieces and scales, leaving the sightreading and ear tests to the pupil to take care of. Technique and finger strength is also something which I have begun to address, particularly with those students who have moved onto learning the piano from the keyboard. The keyboard is a very popular instrument to learn in India, and is more readily available (and cheaper I suppose) for students to obtain, but the current syllabus doesn't teach left-hand stamina at all, and general posture is something which has to be re-learnt when shifting to the piano. Fortunately, everyone is very quick on the uptake here, and the improvements in one-lesson can be very inspiring. Often, the students just need an idea to help them interpret the music so that it isn't merely a blur of black dots on a white page, but instead becomes a melody with interesting harmony that can be interpreted in several different ways.
I have been working with the main piano teacher in the school to develop her own repertoire and to introduce her to different ideas with regard to teaching a sense of musicality alongside technique. She has been very eager to take on several suggestions, but is currently run off her feet with teaching six days a week. A second piano teacher is due to arrive in September which should relieve her workload. The 40-minute time slots per lesson pass very quickly, and when students are late it can be difficult to cover much with them - especially when they haven't managed any practice that week due to academic pressures.
Aside from our teaching, Jenny and I have begun to work with an NGO based in Delhi called Music Basti, for whom we have perfomed a workshop at a girls' orphanage in Kashmere Gate. We hope to work in a boys' home near Qutab Minar, and will most likely begin our work there in the coming week. We have also had the opportunity to see several Indian bands perform locally, my favourite so far was Hari and Sukhmani with their fusion of traditional Punjab folk song with English lyrics and RnB beats. You can hear some of their stuff here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6cH8cJwXwA&feature=related
And finally, Jenny and I have also featured in the Delhi Times under the caption 'Music Mad'... how fitting!