An initiative that draws out the latent singer from hopeful aspirants

Ever envisioned the melodies you hum while taking a leisurely shower being repeated in a studio setup? Or better yet, in front of a live audience? That is what Sunil Koshy did, and the idea prompted him to start ‘From Mug to Mike’, a series of workshops that give bathroom singers a taste of the professional world and help them overcome inhibitions and perform without fear.

Sunil, who hails from Pathanamthitta but was raised in Abu Dhabi, has since spent most of his college and professional life in Bangalore. The daily grind got him through college and landed him his dream job at Intel, but his passion for music and the desire to sing got the better of him. “I had always wanted to learn to sing professionally but with work taking up a chunk of time it was hard to do so. Since I was fascinated with how musicians in the old days lived and practised in gurukuls, I quit my job, went to Chennai, and did just that,” says Sunil, who was in the city to conduct a preliminary session of the workshop.

It was upon returning to Bangalore and starting up work again that he realised that there were many people like him who were interested in singing but not pursuing their interest because of the effort involved. “In India there is this misconception that a good singer needs years of training in classical music. A lot of people who think this actually want to sing film songs, and this confusion is what holds them back. Since I started learning music I have worked with some great musicians and performers and what I try to do with ‘From Mug to Mike’ is to give participants some of that experience,” he says, adding that the simple and undemanding nature of the workshop has led people from all age groups to join the workshop.

Sunil conducts the workshops in different stages, initially having a five hour session where he goes through his own experiences and gives participants the opportunity to record in a studio. He later conducts advanced workshops for those willing to continue, where they have interactive sessions and eventually prepare for a live show. “The thing about ‘From Mug to Mike’ is that it does not require a long standing commitment. Participation in each session of the workshop is voluntary, depending on the level to which the participants are interested. It is a great experience to see people from all ages encourage each other, form a support group and stay in touch online. The emotional moments when someone hears their recorded voice for the first time are uplifting,” he reminisces.

Sunil has conducted close to 25 workshops since the inception around six months ago, and is now looking to expand beyond Karnataka because of the feedback he is receiving from other states and abroad.

Future plans

“It is good for me and for the people who attend. I feel like there is something to be gained in music, so I have quit my full time job again and am concentrating on this for the near future. Some people ask if any of the people who attended my workshops have become popular. Popularity is relative. For some, performing on stage is popularity, or getting asked for an autograph is popularity. The aim is not to create more playback singers, but to encourage more people to sing and improve their singing,” he says with the air of a man satisfied with his place in life.

The next sessions of the workshop are slated to happen in the city in mid-November. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/FromMugToMike.