This former Mrs. India is making waves in Canada. See how.
Lavanya Rajesh moved to Canada in April 2007. In 2006, Lavanya won the title of Mrs India (FRu) and had over 15 years of experience in the Indian entertainment industry as a model/ actor/ singer /performer. So when she moved to Canada she wanted to share her culture and experience with people here, which led to her setting up SUR school of music. “Teaching music was always something that was close to my heart. I set up Sur to use music to inspire young minds and help them build confidence with an intention to not just develop good singers but excellent performing artists”, She says.
At Sur she has tried to combine traditional techniques of teaching music along with modern applications like recordings to improve an individual’s vocal throw and listening abilities because she believes that to be a good singer, one has to be an excellent listener.
For her, being a singer and a teacher is like being a FOREVER STUDENT – it’s a constant learning experience. All excited, she says, “It is the most fulfilling and heartwarming feeling to see my students blossom. Since I teach contemporary music, I have to always stay ahead and keep learning and push each student to explore his/her style and versatility.”
She is a Tamilian who is drawn to Hindustani music as she was born and brought up in Delhi and Allahabad, and her musical training began in Sangeet Samiti ( a 100 year old Institution of music). She then continued under the tutelage of Sri Sivaram Kathak ji. She learnt Indian light and semi classical music – covering sufi, ghazals, bhajans, thumris etc. She is not trained in Carnatic though she loves exploring the classical connects between Hindustani and Carnatic styles in various popular compositions.
When asked about students in Canada, she feels that students here look upon Indian music as a means to connect and stay grounded, and parents look up to the teachers to invest in their child’s overall growth and development. She feels that there is a greater responsibility on a teacher, because one is not just teaching music, but is developing personalities. Her students range from ages 7 years to 60 years and each student’s motivation is different. For many of the younger students, it’s a great way to improve their vocal throw and connect to their roots and culture through music. For the older students, music is recreational and therapeutic and a lovely outlet.
For her every good singer /song/composer is an inspiration. Every soul stirring event is an inspiration. Amongst composers she is completely in awe of R D Burman and A R Rehman.
Her musical day starts with – Hot water honey and lemon mornings, and 10 minutes of Kharaj Riyaaz ( practice of low notes). Most afternoons and evenings during weekdays, private class sessions are on. She tries to give herself a 15-20 min break between classes to rest her vocal chords so that she can give her 100% to each class. Late evenings she always goes for an hour of Yoga. In between all these schedules, she makes room to work on her compositions, recordings and practice for her upcoming performances if any.
On asked about differences with India, she says, “Today the internet has actually shrunk the world and I feel geography does not post challenges especially in my profession of being a music composer/singer/lyricist. But in terms of performance opportunities, they are fewer here as compared to India.”
And as for people in Canada, She has always found people in Canada extremely supportive. There are various private and Govt. institutions and councils help promote various art forms. Genuine talent is always backed by genuine support from individuals and the community but all it takes is time and perseverance. So she advises immigrant artists to fearlessly follow their dreams and remember that while the destination may be important, for an artist, the journey is always more fulfilling.
Her vision for Sur is to see develop some wonderful young composers with unique distinctive styles. She would also love to feature her students in some of her future compositions.
Overall, her journey so far has been very fulfilling as she has had some wonderful support from media personalities based in India, USA and in Canada, in spreading the word about Sur and her music Video –Rishton ne. She adds, “I have had the unwavering support of Edmonton based artists – 18 in all – to execute the Bollywood style music video project RISHTON NE which we released in March this year. My audience has always rooted for me and appreciation from them pushes me to work harder and do better, always. I have had tremendous unequivocal support from my students and their families and it’s almost always due to them that the Sur family has grown and continues to grow.”
Here is Rishton Ne:
Her next release is a romantic song with fusion English/ Hindi lyrics.