Name: Ishani Lahiri
Trinity qualification: Electronic Keyboard Digital grade
Ishani Lahiri is a self-taught musician and music teacher who comes from a family of musicians. She talked to us about her career and a very special student called Mantasha, who she taught online during the pandemic.
“My father was a musician and my aunt. When I was growing up, music was everywhere around me. I started performing traditional Indian music at the age of five.”
Ishani started performing professionally after she finished college, and not long after, at the age of 20, she decided to take on some teaching work to supplement her income.
“I thought let me try teaching. It's not as glamorous as being a rock star or a pop star! But when I did my first kindergarten music class, I was like, I can't do this very well, but I love it!”
“There's nothing like when you see children becoming more confident – in the way they talk, and the way they sit. Especially in Indian music, when you're supposed to sit still and be very attentive.”
After a few years, Ishani set up her own studio and started doing private lessons there. Not long after she decided to start preparing her students for Trinity exams.
“My dad introduced me to Trinity, and he said you really need to do this. It's exciting. The course is fun, and I was like, let's do it.
Ishani did not regret her decision and was pleased with the support she received when setting up her first few exams.
“There was an aspect of the heart involved. I could trust the institute! The Trinity rep for North India is, I think, a very busy lady! Every time I called her, she would never lose her patience. She was always there for us - every examiner that I met too.”
Ishani first met her student Mantasha and her mother when they were visiting the capital when Mantasha was four. When they found out that Ishani taught music, Mantasha’s mother was really keen for her to learn with Ishani, but it wasn’t a possibility at the time.
“She's in the northern most part of India and I'm in the capital, so I told her I just do physical classes not online classes, and I'm afraid you'll have to come back and learn!”
“It was always there at the back of my mind that I had this possible student, and I didn't take her. What a loss -she was such a sweet child!”
Mantasha did come back to Delhi for a visit when she was around six years old, and she had her first brief experience of playing the keyboard with a music teacher.
“When COVID hit, I started doing online lessons with her and it took off like anything!
“I'm so proud of her - It's been nearly three years now and she just appeared for her Grade 2 keyboard exam - always digital because coming to Delhi wouldn't have been possible just for the exam.”
“I think just that ecosystem that she is be a part of now is so important. She can grow up and say that when she was ten years old, she sat an international grade exam - that puts you in a different ball game that opens your mind up!”
Having had such great success with Mantasha, we asked Ishani if she had any tips on teaching music online.
“Use video lessons! Right after the online class, send them a video and let them send you a video. I feel that's the only way you can be successful online because it's not the same as physical, right? I found it a lot of fun.”