Music

A champion for the cause of music

Ebenezer believes character is most important for a musician. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

Ebenezer believes character is most important for a musician. Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K  

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Musician and teacher Ebenezer John says that there is no end to learning when it comes to music

For artiste, musician, singer-songwriter and music teacher Ebenezer John Premkumar, teaching music is a passion by itself.

Leading a campaign of music with a mission at MuzikGarage, the artiste says: “One of the biggest gifts you can give to anyone is sharing the musical knowledge you have. I’ve learnt that the more I teach, the more I learn and as a musician I never stop learning.”

Sharing his thoughts with The Hindu MetroPlus, he says his independent music teaching venture kicked off with the vision to selflessly equip musicians to help themselves and thrive in the music field. “MuzikGarage holds regular workshops to encourage musicians build themselves up and get onto a platform that may otherwise not be possible.”

Born in Tamil Nadu and raised in Gujurat, Ebenezer recalls his younger days when nobody around him understood western music since they were more prone to Indian cinema and Bollywood music. “My mother played the guitar so she inspired me to pick up the stringed instrument and taught me three chords when I was in standard three. From a small age, I had a passion to become a good guitarist and be a blessing to others.”

It was only during a holiday visit to Chennai that Ebenezer’s zeal for music became a reality. “An uncle of mine taught me how to pluck and connect chords. I was fascinated by his way of playing. I went back to Ahmedabad, started listening to songs on the radio and one song that really gripped me was Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’. I was astonished by the variation played on the solo guitar with a chord, a melody, a rhythm and a bass playing on the top – all this from one guitar. That’s where I developed my ear for music and worked out something called chord voicing.”

Explaining the term, Ebenezer says chord voicing is the way he feels about a song. “The usual way of playing a song is just strumming along. The other way is voicing out the song where you enunciate every note. Though I developed the technique by myself, I later learnt from interacting with other musicians that the term used to describe it was chord voicing – an already popular technique. I learnt that it was not about the progression, but rather about the feel, mood and ambience of the song.”

He elaborates that chord voicing is making the guitar sound like a whole range of instruments. Citing an example, he says: “When I play Vande Mataram, I drop the tuning to D to make it sound like a sitar by plucking the 6-5-4 strings and hammer the melody on my left hand while I’m playing the chord. Hence, there is a bass-line, a melody and a chord – all in one. It’s like a one-man band,” he beams.

Looking back, he shares that there was a brief period in his college days when he deviated to genres like rock and metal with the electric guitar. “That’s the teenage fantasy trip all musicians go through when they are young and I was no exception. It was only in my final years of college that I realised something was missing in my music. I realised I was playing depressing and de-motivating songs and had only become an entertainer. I stepped back and decided to take a stand to return to my original calling. That day I knew I was designed for a better purpose and my transformation took place.”

Ebenezer points out that the one thing he teaches his students in his workshops is to be humble. “The middle of pride is ‘I’, the opposite is humility where the ‘U’ comes before the ‘I’. When you humble yourself as a musician and put others before yourself, you put a smile in their lives and change them forever. Humility as a musician takes you to a different level altogether.”

Kicking off his passion to teach right after he finished college in 2007, Ebenezer has been training people to become musicians since then. “My vision is not just to make people musicians, but also to make them better human beings, I focus a lot on character building and encourage my students to be confident. Character plays a major role in a musician’s life. Me and my fellow workshop conductors like Keba Jeremiah make sure we touch on character building during our lessons.”

Also equipping his students on chord techniques and genre differentiation, Ebenezer focuses his lessons on acoustic and electric guitars as well as bass guitars. “There is no shortcut to learning music and nothing beats working hard and practising to become a good musician.”

Appealing to fellow musicians, he sums up: “Be an inspiration. A lot of people are discouraged by senior musicians. Instead, invest time in their lives. Help upcoming musicians. I tell all those who come to me to keep their passion going, no matter what. If you have other dreams go for them. Keep music as your passion while you pursue your career. I’m like that. I love music, I’m a musician. But, I’m also an IT engineer because that’s what I studied. Music and a career can be balanced. No matter what you do, make sure you remain a blessing to others and share what you learn.”

Contact MuzikGarage at 9663028642 or visit the branches in Frazer Town and R.T. Nagar.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2019 10:07:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/musician-and-teacher-ebenezer-john-says-that-there-is-no-end-to-learning-when-it-comes-to-music/article6615171.ece

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