From Accounting to Adult Piano Lessons to Guiding Light

Indusekhar Menon’s Career Change and Foray into Composing

Indusekhar Menon plays Guiding Light, his composition which he dedicated to his teacher, Roxana Anklesaria-Doctor.
Indusekhar Menon described, in yesterday’s article, how his beloved teacher, Roxana Anklesaria-Doctor, one of India’s most respected pedagogues, initially refused to speak to him in her studio.

In this second of a two-part, exclusive interview with GRAND PIANO PASSION™, Indu relates how his adult piano lessons sparked a significant career change and a foray into composing.

Tell us about your decision to leave the corporate sector to pursue the piano. Was it difficult?

I am a Chartered Accountant, and for close to nine years, I worked in the corporate sector. In spite of the financial security, somewhere deep within, the urge to be a musician simmered. The tipping point was when I helped my teacher, Roxana Anklesaria-Doctor, organize the MusiQuest Festival in 2011, which is India’s only piano festival. I saw some of these participants play amazing repertoire. Interacting with people who led a life dedicated to the piano changed my perspective, and spending two hours a day at the piano was no longer enough for me.

My whole day had to be filled with music making. Within three months of the festival I quit the corporate world. It was an easy and difficult decision to make. It was easy because I knew that making music would bring me happiness.

That’s a kind of happiness so many of us can relate to. In what ways was the decision difficult?

It seems the proficiency that an adult learner seeks comes only for those who start young. I am constantly aware that this decision entails a huge risk, not progressing beyond a certain level despite the best of efforts. But I draw confidence from my teacher’s belief in my musical abilities. She displays that belief by not making promises of drastic improvement or speculating about how far I will get. She shows it through the enthusiasm with which she works on those pieces that my hands and brain are capable of handling now. She gives me tips to make small improvements, which will hopefully add up and go on to make up something substantial.

I hope so too, and I’m very impressed by your dedication. And there’s even more to your story. In your second year of piano lessons, you composed a Grade 6 piano solo, Guiding Light, per the Trinity Guildhall Syllabus, and it won first prize in the Adults’ Original Composition category in the MusiQuest Festival. The video is below, but first tell us how you began to compose.

As a child when it became clear to me that I would not be able to learn a musical instrument due to my circumstances, I decided to focus on the next best alternative to making music, listening. I would listen for hours to different genres of music and try and figure out the chord progressions.

Of course I did not know what a chord was, but I knew that if you take a melody away from a song there is still some action going on; there is a series of chord progressions happening. I would listen to these progressions in my head and try and add different melodies throughout the day, while traveling or while relaxing. I believe this helped me salvage whatever musical ability I had.

Many years later, when I started piano, I did the same exercise, but this time with the real instrument in front of me, and I felt gratified when I found I was able to create simple tunes. While I was still working in the corporate sector, I composed a song for voice and piano called “Ballad of TRAV,” which I performed at a company event. It was a huge hit, and my colleagues said they were deeply moved by the music. I felt very encouraged by this, and in a moment of gratitude to my teacher, I started composing my next piece, “Guiding Light,” which I completed a few months later and dedicated to her. I am at present composing a Nocturne in memory of my beloved mother and a Serenade in G Major, which I hope to complete by January 2013.

Copyright © 2018 Nancy M. Williams. All Rights Reserved.

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