Can’t Stop the Music- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

A music video, recently released on Instagram, shows a sweet chorus of students in uniform, singing and swaying to a catchy tune with a rather moving message.

“Khudse Karu Mein Pyaar” is a song about self-love, about forgiving and being there for oneself. It is written and sung by students of Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Lajpat Nagar, albeit with a little help from Manzil Mystics.

A Delhi-based music band and non-profit, the Mystics believe they can change the world, one song at a time. With a group of eight performers and a team of over 20 Fellows and collaborators, the band-cum-organisation has been working in the field of music and education for over five years.

“Music is a bigger part of life than most people would think. It can impact your life in major ways”, says Anurag Hoon, sitting in his little office room in Kotla Mubarakpur. Hoon is one of the band’s founding members and a vocalist. The son of parents who migrated to Delhi from a village in Uttar Pradesh in the hope of making a life here, he admits to being a poor student during his school days but with dreams of being a singer. His father, an electrician, could never afford him a music education. “I always wanted to learn music as a child but circumstances did not let me”, he says. “I believe music education helps you develop a good personality. You don’t necessarily have to become a musician, but you will always have music with you”, he adds.

Manzil Mystics got into a partnership with the Directorate of Education in Delhi recently, launching several programmes with a vision of creating “happy, safe and inclusive spaces” for children from low-income backgrounds and government schools through music education. “Government schools usually lack even basic music infrastructure. It is very hard to find schools with functioning musical instruments or a designated music teacher”, says Hoon, who, along with members of the Music Fellowship, a two year fellowship at Manzil Mystics, goes to over 25 government schools in Delhi and conducts music classes an hour a week as part of their Learn Through Music initiative. The student-made song is a result of this initiative.  

A Musical Ride

The Mystics have found a way around the problem of music infrastructure in schools, by taking their Music Bus there. The bus stands out on any road. First of its kind in the country, the vehicle is a mobile classroom, recording studio and stage, all rolled into one. Launched in 2021, it has been on the move ever since.

Raghav Mishra, a Fellow with Manzil Mystics and also a singer, gives a tour of the bus. It houses a classroom space where the walls are white boards strewn with notations, a completely soundproof and state-of-the-art recording room and a platform that opens on the outside, as a stage. There is also a wide screen facing outside, on which live classes and videos are screened for the students. 

Career Training

The bus was launched in collaboration with SBI Card and is currently sponsored by the music industry giant, boAt. Mishra takes care of sound recording and audio production on the bus. “We try to teach students the entire process of making music, from performing to production and post-production”, he explains. The organisation aims to prepare children for a career in the music industry, skilling them for opportunities that may come their way. They have an after-school music training programme as well, titled ‘Kala-Car’, a nod to the automobile that makes it all possible.

Like the Beatles’ song, the Mystics do get by with help, little and big, from their friends. A well-wisher once gifted them 50 violins that are taken home for practice by students learning music with the Mystics. And it is not just school students who attend the music classes. “We’ve had people from the age of 9 to 64 take part in our sessions, wanting to learn music”, says Hoon.

The organisation has opened up opportunities for its fellows and students. “We had a kid who learned guitar with us and got admitted into the Shankar Mahadevan Academy. He went on to perform live with  Mahadevan too”, says Anuradha Thakur, the HR manager of Manzil Mystics who is also a musician. Five of the Fellows, including Mishra, performed at the All About Music concert in Mumbai, two weeks ago. “It was a surreal experience to perform at an event where Lucky Ali and Salim Merchant were performing”, reminisces Mishra.    

Four more songs by students from four different schools are to be recorded and released by the end of next month on over a hundred platforms including Spotify and Apple Music. The band is on a roll. 

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