Thursday, March 09, 2017

Day 9 - The day I thought on my feet (Keyboard chronicles continued)

Continued from here.

Back in school, I participated in every competition in school. Be it music, art, writing, debate, sport, I was there, entering my name. The only competition I didn't sign up was classical instrumental music, because I didn't know how to play any instrument.

One day, when I was in the ninth standard, the instrumental music competition was on at school, and we were allowed to go to the auditorium and watch. We sat there watching the eighth standard students play their violins and flutes and veenas. And then, the next participant came on to stage with a keyboard. I froze. Keyboards? Seriously, do keyboards count? I had never thought of it. I could have participated! I was so angry and frustrated that I could scream.

Just then, the boy finished playing and stepped down from the stage. Before I knew what I was doing, I got up and went out, and caught hold of him.

"Hey," I said. "My name is Shruthi. What's yours?"

"D," he said.

"Hey, D, can I borrow your keyboard today for the competition?"

"Sure," said D.

So I took the keyboard from him (it was a mini-keyboard) and went to the teachers and asked them to enter my name (the event for our class was to follow.)

But what would I play? I hadn't ever consciously played any classical composition on the keyboard. Yes, I knew quite a few compositions, having learnt to sing them. Yes, I was familiar with the keys on the keyboard, but I had no practice. What do I do? 

But I think, at the back of my mind, I already knew what I would do, even before I went up to D and asked him for the keyboard. Because I knew a little secret. The black keys on the keyboard constitute the notes of the raaga Mohana (called Bhupali in Hindustani). So if I played a composition in Raaga Mohana, using only the black keys, then there would not be a very great chance of my playing the wrong keys.

I took the keyboard a little away from the auditorium, and at a low volume, tried it out. I played a Mohana Varna. It worked. I made next to no mistakes. I was ready.

When they called my name out, I went on to stage and played. And guess what, I got the second prize.

For someone who is not very street smart, and doesn't think too quickly on her feet, this incident stands out, and I'm ridiculously proud of it.


Nagraj Rao said...


Jayashree said...

Bravo !!!!

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