This story by Disha Prabhu truly makes one believe in the healing power of music. It’s about the journey of two young two young men who set out on a journey to make the world believe that music and dance are ‘means of expression’ and not something you indulge in at shows and weddings, before heading back to the ‘real world’. It wasn’t easy, but they kept going because they believed they could make a difference – but so can you. Read on, play on….
A 9-year-old boy with big, unfashionable glasses, a perforated eardrum and a stain on his face was constantly bullied at school. But the one thing that kept him going was singing in the choir and playing his piano/guitar. But fate had something else planned for him. Following his parent’s wishes, he underwent Laser Surgery to remove that stain. However, due to medical negligence, he was left with a stutter.
Not being able to speak fluently, let alone sing, should have been enough to discourage the young lad. But his love for music didn’t let him stop. He practiced every day for 14 years, until the day he walked amidst a crowd cheering him on as he collected his first Grammy for his sensational hit, ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
The boy was called Ed Sheeran; the maestro who has changed the shape of you, me and the world, with his music!
This story truly makes one believe in the healing power of music. Every day, we watch singers and musicians inspire the world with their story, but ironically, this theory applies only to those who have made it big, not the ones who live right around us. While being constantly in the pursuit of producing doctors, engineers and architects, we often look down on artistic talents and refer to them as something to ‘do in your free time’. If you’ve been one of those people, this next story is for you.
Three years ago, two young men set out on a journey to make the world believe that music and dance are ‘means of expression’ and not something you indulge in at weddings, before heading back to the ‘real world’. It wasn’t easy, but they kept going despite obstacles, closed doors and rejections, until one day their persistence gave birth to “Music for Change”.
Music for Change is a trust that helps children, especially physically disabled, specially-able and economically backward children, through the art of music and dance. From free instruments to classes in piano/guitar/drums/vocal training as well as various forms of dance, it inspires young kids to express themselves better, work as a team and simply cherish the joys of music and dance.
The two young men, fellow Mangaloreans, were raised in your neighbourhood, went to the same schools as your kids and have the same values as every kudla lad. The only thing they did differently was use their talents to make the world better.
The birth of Music for Change:
Inseparable childhood buds Ashish Jason Palanna, a musician/singer and Arjun John Dsouza, a marketing executive/music enthusiast, happened to visit a Blind School when the principal spoke about their students wanting to learn music, but not being able to do so because of the lack of equipments and finance for teachers. This visit made both of them evaluate the lives they had been leading up until then.
They realized that between concerts and reality shows, music had become more a hobby for the ‘privileged’, than a mode of expression and learning. So, with the aim of creating a platform for these talented but underprivileged children they decided to start ‘Music for Change’.
With no money, instruments or teachers, they knocked on doors for funding, old instruments and support. They also decided to use their talents to raise funds with a concert featuring Ashish’s band ROL, India’s Got Talent semi-finalists and Frictions Dance Crew. The event was a huge success with tremendous response and funding to start classes.
They started with classes at Roman and Catherine School for the Blind and Chethana Child Development Centre. The school administration which was skeptical at first, started recording students’ progress and saw that they showed immense improvement in their academic skills as well. Within a year, several other schools reached out to them, while the determined young men with the help and insight of their administrator and friend, Leona Aranha, reached out to the rest.
It started out with 12 students between two schools and after just a year, it reached a total of over 50 physically challenged, specially-able and economically backward children over 4 schools including Mannagudda Government School and Swaroopa Adhyayana Kendra. Today, visually impaired students play the drums, keyboards and guitar, students of our Special Schools dance their heart out and children with no means have an opportunity to express themselves along with an alternative career path.
Dear Reader, stop for minute. Look up from your ledgers or text books and look at this beautiful family. Instead of tracking your school mates on Facebook and being envious of their travels & victories, head to the ‘Music for Change’ page and have a glimpse of incredible children smiling, performing, transforming. Leave those online shopping portals aside and log on to the Music for Change website to support the attempts of one of your own. Tell the world of their journey. And if you wish, donate your old instruments or a small amount to keep them going.
And one day, when you’re flipping through channels and you see a visually impaired child, a child with Down Syndrome or someone with no ‘Godfather’ in the industry win a Grammy, cherish that feeling. Because right there, you made a difference.
And one last thing, if your kids tell you that they wish to be a musician or dancer, give them a chance. Don’t let society decide the future of your children.
Because, like Ed Sheeran sings,
“We could change this whole world with a piano,
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go.”