Mad about music

Answering the call of music: Leon James, a musician and a theatre professional.  

“I was like Batman,” says Leon James, a musician and a theatre professional about his life as an IT professional. He worked all night and slept during the day. He was successful. He impressed his bosses. And, he drew a fat salary too. But, Leon hated it. “I could not interact with the world outside. I had no social life.” And, worst of all he could not play music as before. He missed his guitars.

Leon's brothers are musicians and his mother is a pianist “You will never find an Anglo-Indian house without a guitar. Whenever there is a cousins’ reunion, we jam. Music is in our blood. ” And with his passion for instruments, Leon taught himself to play around 10 instruments including the Ukulele, didgeridoo and African jembe.

But, so many hours spent in front of the computer, left him with no time for music. “I would be so drained after I came home from work that I would not get the energy to pick up the guitar.”

But, he got to meet other music buffs at office. “We soon formed a band and started performing on office tours and parties.” Jude Reeves, his relative, colleague as well as a musician, joined him. “The journey to office in Saravanampatti was always a fun one. We would jam inside the van,” recalls Jude.

The white collared professionals with guitar in their hands would be head banging in the vehicles while a few others tried hard to get some sleep. However, Jude realised he just could not balance both music and his hectic career. Using earphones during work affected his ear drums. He had to miss a gig because of an ear infection, and that decided it for him. He joined as a music teacher at Stanes and started performing at restaurants and rock shows. “I have no regrets. I am earning more than I ever did. Teaching helps me work on voice modulation and intonation.”

Short film music composer SreRam Anand also led a dual life. Though he loved his job as a head of HR & operations, he enjoyed singing in the evenings. “Ï worked like it was a part of my karma. I was excelling in the HR job and enjoying it too. But music overruled my passion for anything else.” He quit his job, this August.

SreRam has composed for around 14 short films, eight of which have won awards in the international circle. He has also set music for two short films that were selected for the Naalaya Iyakunar, a short film competition, aired on Kalaignar TV. Even though he is not classically trained, those who heard him sing since he was a child found him gifted. But, he says, “Being born into a typical South Indian family, I too fell into the rut of engineering,” he says. “Even if your folks are okay, the relatives and neighbours fret about your future.”

Aananth Abhirami, a software professional from Bangalore, chucked his lucrative software job for his love for veena. He started working at the age of 19. But, he read extensively on Carnatic music, listened to concerts and took part in online music discussion groups. “An Orkut community of music lovers introduced me to Lalgudi Rajalakshmi, sister of Lalgudi Jayaram, who urged me to go for higher studies in music.”

The Orkut group also introduced Aananth to Dr. R.S. Jayalakshmi, his guru.

Unlike Leon and Jude, Aananth was not lucky to find like minded music lovers in office. “Even if people were passionate about music, the work took precedence. Who had the time to talk about music?”

Aananth took a break to pursue a long distance course in Madras University with veena as his core subject. Then, he joined the Coimbatore Music College as a guest faculty in the department of Musicology. But, taking the decision was never easy, he says. “You had to think of finance. My family was not a well-settled one.”

SreRam too had family to think of. “I did not want my parents to feel bad. I had to convince them that one day I will make it big.”

He might not be earning as much as he did earlier, but he is definitely happier.

“I know I have to be patient. I have a handful of projects. But, I am 27 already and at times, wish I had started earlier.”

But, he would not trade this life for anything else, says SreRam. “These three months have been phenomenal. I have been learning a lot music composing. I am free of pressure and have so much time.”

“And what is the use of money if you are not happy?” asks Aananth.

“The job was playing havoc with my health causing sleep disorders. Music has healed me both mentally and physically. Now, I am doing what I am keen about. Every day is a new one for me.”

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 8:00:38 PM |

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