Dubai: An Indian expat singer in Dubai is striking a unique chord with students as he spreads the love of music among them.
Kushwanth Singh, a singer at the Gurunanak Darbar – the Sikh community centre in Jebel Ali - has brought together over 100 students - 121 at last count - who attend his free music classes every Saturday and Sunday.
Singh, a credited musician who has been training in vocal singing and instruments since the age of eight years in Gurdaspur, Punjab – India, said his passionate students inspire him every week to scale a higher note.
“Our service and camaraderie as a close-knit community at the Gurudwara is a major force for these children to come week after week to learn traditional kirtans or devotional songs,” explained Singh.
Bubbles Khandari, Vice Chairperson at Gurunanak Darbar, said: “There are many who sing well. But few are great teachers as well. Kushwanth is one of them. His endearing personality and great connection with children has been one of the reasons why so many children come to learn from him every week. He has been teaching here for the last five years.”
Singh said when a teacher gets down to the level of the student and connects with the individual, it is a magical reunion. “I have students coming from Malaysia, US, Canada who could not speak Punjabi or Hindi. The lyrics of our Kirtans were hard for them to memorise. But with constant encouragement and practice they have been able to overcome challenges. Talent never realised before is coming to the forefront.”
The classes at the Darbar are scheduled from 2pm until 5pm. “Students start to arrive an hour before and stay on till 6pm. It is their day out learning and having a good time. The classes are completely free for the students as is part of the great service rendered by the Gurunanak Darbar,” said Singh.
“The five hours pass like five minutes. We bond, we communicate, we don’t judge. We celebrate our passion for music. All in all it is a fulfilling time spent.”
Singh said one of the biggest successes of his journey as a teacher has been his ability to connect and bond with his students. “Key to imparting knowledge is understanding the student and working around their strengths. I have students who have come to me without a background in music. Today they perform Kirtans really well.”
Homemaker Navdeep Kaur said she has been sending her children Prabhjeet Singh, 14 and Rehat Kaur, 9, for the past four years to Singh. “My son plays the tabla - an Indian musical instrument consisting of a pair of drums. My daughter on the other hand has been learning harmonium, also called the Reed organ.”
Kaur said she and her husband have taken a conscious decision to give their children an exposure to their culture. “Learning our traditional music and instruments is one of them. They also learn Punjabi language. We feel blessed to have such an environment where our children can be connected with their roots.”
Gurudwara volunteer and finance professional Maninder Kaur said children love to learn from Singh because he makes the class so interesting. ”My children Ramandeep and Ashprit have been going to learn music from him for five years. The children have a great time with him and that is why he has over 100 students learning from him.”
“For me it is important that our children connect with our culture. This is why they have been also been learning vocal music, table and harmonium.”