Think of some Nepali musicians like Robin Tamang, Raju Gurung, Anil Shahi, and Roshan Sharma. All of them are incredibly successful musicians from a range of different styles, and what they have in common is this country: Nepal. They come from Nepal, they have Nepali families, they make records and concerts in Nepal, and they are loved in Nepal.
But now let’s take a closer look—where did these musicians learn to play, write, sing? Where does their music really come from? Nepal? No. Not a single one. Robin Tamang lived and played in Canada for years before launching his successful career in Kathmandu; Raju Gurung earned a degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA; Anil Shahi learned classical Eastern and Western guitar in India and the UK; and Roshan Sharma learned chaturangi in India. Ask any one of them about music education in Nepal and you’ll likely hear a sad story. Here’s part of that sad story, gathered from 6 months of interviews, observations, and classes in schools around Kathmandu:
The government doesn’t support music education to any practical extent, and music generally isn’t offered at government schools. Not surprisingly—the government is pre-occupied with things like constitutions, federal states, and Army staff at the moment, so it could be a while before they consider music with any seriousness. Some of the larger private higher secondary schools offer music teaching, depending on if the director or principal wants to or not, but the focus of this teaching seems to be with making adequate ‘Parents’ Day’ shows—drilling the students by rote for weeks for a ten-minute long performance of songs they already know. Principals and parents walk away satisfied, but what do the students actually learn? To sing songs that they already knew. Music? Hardly.
These are part of the many issues in our country that we are working to solve since we founded our school in 2007. There are many talented children in these streets and classrooms who have not discovered their talent yet. Music has the power to change and even though our culture has the roots of music woven deep into its fabric, we have not yet implemented it into action in modern day Nepal.
We have been awarding scholarships to more than 500 students since our inception. We believe in women empowerment and have been working actively on encouraging female artists. We are now training a group from an orphanage we have been working with, House of Hope, to be the first all girl brass section in Nepal. They are learning to play instruments like the trumpet and trombone at our school. Apart from this we have been working with many disadvantaged-individuals, schools and orphanages to provide quality music education to the students on scholarship.
Adapted from article by Robert Moore – Fulbright