Saturday, November 30, 2013
A Music Lesson
15 weeks in the US.
Mouth-watering butter. Cheese in every kind of food.
Even Caesar salad which was mostly grass and leaf came with shredded cheese.
And then there was Cheese Cake factory. Also Taco Bell and its cheesy potatoes.
It made no difference that I was vegetarian.
It made no difference that I went to the gym almost every day.
I put on weight. Though it was not perceptible to others.
When I returned, I took to my fruit juices and salads and one meal a day.
After almost 3 months of this discipline, I became slimmer, though I have way to go before I get back to the ‘before US trip’ shape.
The only fault in my discipline seemed to be waking up very late in the morning and going to office by 12 and heading to lunch before turning on the computer. Work began only post lunch and went on till late in the evening.
But there was another fault and I was to learn it from the most unexpected quarter.
A month or so ago, I resumed my music classes which had come to a pause once I began touring Manhattan.
My new music teacher is so different from the old one.
While the old one enjoyed withholding until you begged, my new guru insists on giving even after your cup has overflowed.
I was in raptures when I found her. I had not finished singing my first line when she exclaimed, what a lovely voice I had.
That’s when I realized that my old teacher had not, in the 2 years of her tutelage, said one word in praise of my singing. Not one.
She too was happy to have me as her student. So she said.
The lessons came pouring. One Varna in just 3 classes. One devotional song in every class. She was set to offer her all.
Only, my cup had shrunk.
I would sing just four lines and already feel tired. I had to begin clearing my throat within minutes of starting the lessons.
She would make me tea at the beginning of every class to soothe my throat. But it didn’t help.
Practising at home was the same experience.
The result was that she taught me lesson after lesson and I could not master even one and reproduce it to her satisfaction in the subsequent classes.
My pending lessons started piling up.
I had never faced this problem ever. I couldn’t figure out why it was happening. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make much progress.
What saddened me most was the shadow of disappointment on my teacher’s face.
I thought of one means after another is search of a solution.
I went hunting for a suitable bottle for the bottle warmer I had bought from the US. I would heat water, dip into it one of my Tazo tea bags, add some honey and have the concoction before singing. Some warm liquid was what my throat needed. Moreover, honey improved voice quality, they said.
My father said, give up citrus. Citrus was part of my everyday diet. A glass of Mosambi juice was something I had every evening. Hmmm...
I called up my playback singer friend and told him my worry.
He said he had faced exactly the same problem – having to clear throat very often; and he had consulted Dr. Rudrappa, a renowned ENT specialist. The doctor had solved his problem with his prescription. Sometimes, you could have throat infections or allergies you were not even aware of. But Dr. Rudrappa would know for sure.
As for tiring soon, he would teach me some exercises when we met next.
That weekend, I attended two music concerts that were part of an annual music festival. The second day, I ran up to the artist and asked her a few questions, almost in desperation. Did she keep away from citrus? No, she had citrus, but avoided oily food, though not completely. What about clearing one’s throat? That was very harmful and must never be done; continue singing, wait for ‘it’ to go away on its own; drink warm water and do salt water gargling.
I came home somewhat consoled but not wholly at rest.
And then, in a flash it occurred to me.
For almost three months, I had not had breakfast.
Skipping breakfast is bad, very bad for the heart. And when you don’t have a strong heart, you cannot sing continuously, for more than a few minutes.
But that was just my speculation. I wasn't sure I had found the right cause. I hoped it was the right cause because the solution was a simple one.
The very next day on, soon after brushing, I walked to the near by Adigas for breakfast.
It has been two weeks now.
Only two weeks, but I can say, my speculation was right.
I no longer feel tired as I sing, though I know it will be a few more weeks before I can sing effortlessly.
Looking back, I think, Oh God! What had I done.
For three months I had gone without breakfast, knowing that it wasn’t good for the heart, but believing that it would take years for it to have any real effect upon the heart, that a few months wouldn’t make a difference.
This was something I had never done before. Waking up late in the morning was an excuse but I had seen the brighter side of it and felt happy it would help me in shedding that extra fat.
And what a telling effect it had had. It had made my heart so weak that I could sing no more than 4 lines without feeling tired, without feeling an ache in the chest region. Every line after the first four was an effort.
And if it hadn’t been for my singing, I would never have perceived the effect and would have gone for months and years without breakfast and to think now of what it would have done to my heart!
Hence I thought it very apt to call this lesson, ‘a music lesson’.