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Striking the right chords: Kalimpong kids score

Kalimpong, Nov. 12: The Kalimpong gharana of western classical music: are there any takers?

Well, that could well be a possibility in years to come, going by the scores of local children, especially those from underprivileged families, who have been training in two music schools here.

Of the two schools, Gandhi Ashram at 6th Mile has by now become very well known, churning out fine violinists like the teen sensation Prayash Biswakarma.

My Peace Music Institute (MPMI), a non-profit initiative, too, has been imparting quality music training to 70-odd students — 35 of them free of cost — for three years. The MPMI is located below Flower Patch on Melli Road.

The students of MPMI have fared exceedingly well in the two exams conducted jointly with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), London. During the first exam last year, of the 21 students, 11 secured distinction. In exams conducted last month, 11 of the 30 students got distinction.

“The ABRSM sends its representative to conduct exams here. Of the 30 students, five cleared the fourth grade, while the remaining others passed either first or second grades. The certificates are also awarded by the ABRSM,” said Dawa Tamang, the director of the institute.

The MPMI imparts lessons in four instruments: violin, piano, cello and viola. Set up in 2007 by Chogyal Rimpoche, a Buddhist monk, the school was opened by Hanns Stekel, the director of Johann Sebastian Bach Music School Vienna, Austria.

Gandhi Ashram was established by the late Jesuit priest Father Ed McGuire from Canada. As with Gandhi Ashram, the MPMI aims to introduce young people from weaker section of the society and orphans to local and western classical music and train them to become music teachers or musicians. Both the schools also provide free regular education to underprivileged children.

“The training they receive in our school will enable them to find jobs in institutions linked to the MPMI or elsewhere. In the case of students with outstanding abilities, he or she will get the chance to study further abroad,” said Avinash Chhetri, the secretary of the MPMI

Tamang said experts, including some from the Vienna school, had been impressed by the talents of local boys and girls. “My own experience tells me that our kids are far more talented than the ones I saw in the west. The difference is in the training; while theirs is far more structured and superior, ours is not so. If our children have access to the same kind of training, they would definitely learn faster and become better musicians,” he added.

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