M A I N   N E W S

Army band to get lessons in Indian classical music
A first: A 14-member Kumaon Regiment band enrols with a sangeet academy in Lucknow
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 28
It is a first of its kind effort by an army band to get formal training in Indian classical music.

Fourteen members of the Kumaon Regiment band have registered as casual students at the prestigious Bhatkhande Sangeet Sansthan in the city to acquaint themselves with the nuances of Indian classical music.

Bhatkhande musician Kamlesh Dubey, in charge of the training of the band, said when an officer from the Army contacted them with a proposal to train the Kumaon regiment band named String, he and Bhatkhande Vice-Chancellor, the famous vocalist Shruti Shirodkar Katkar, decided to take up the challenge.

“We visited the band in the cantonment and heard a concert. With most of the members belonging to the hill state of Uttarakhand, they have a natural flair for music though they are not formally trained. We saw enough potential in them to take up their training in classical music,” said Dubey.

Officially, the army bands till now have been formally trained in western style of music at the Army Music College situated in the picturesque Panchmarhi. This establishment has been tasked to train band masters and instructors in band instruments for the Army in particular, and for the armed forces of the country in general.

During the British regime, the training of Indians in the army band was neglected as most of the band masters and instructors were British, who had their own training establishments back home.

A few Indian band masters who were there at that time gained appointments on the basis of experience and natural talent in the discipline without having undergone any formal training in their profession. The establishment of Military Music Wing as a part of AEC Training College and Centre, Pachmarhi, was set up in October 1950 under the patronage of the then Commander-in-Chief General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa.

The college hit international headlines when on December 16, 1997, in New Delhi, 4,449 musicians from the Indian Armed Forces under the guidance of the AEC band specialists played “Amazing Grace”, forming the largest band under one conductor, and thus entered the “Guinness Book of World Records”.

However, now the 14-member team undergoing classical music training is learning Indian ragas like Bilawal and Yaman.

A tailor-made course has been conceptualised for them. Of them, two are learning the tabla, others in batches of two are mastering the sarod, sitar, flute and violin, while the remaining two are working on the dilruba and harmonium, respectively.

With training in Indian classical music, one expects a more varied Kumaon regiment band, with its natural flair of hill folk music and orientation in western music at Panchmarhi, says Dubey.





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