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somashreedastidar

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My Practice Methodology

I’ve always been questioned about how I manage so many things. Apparently, I make it look easy. Trust me, it’s a struggle! I do have a lot on my plate, and no I don’t regret anything. I just make time for everything.

So, apart from working, being a good daughter, wife and mommy, I chose to pursue Music. I’m not perfect, but I do my best. I practice, to try and be perfect.

I practice during the weekends since I have time on my hands, and I practice for quite a few hours at a stretch. In my house, we have converted the basement into the ‘Music Area’ and that’s where I go for my practice sessions. I always make my Mum sit with me, I absolutely can’t practice without her.

I do go for training/classes, because I believe that learning never stops! I have three teachers and I attend classes on Saturdays. I am currently training in Classical Music, Semi Classical Bengali Music (Nazrul Geeti, Shyama Sangeet, etc.) as well as Thumri and Dadra. I learn so much more every week, and it makes me feel good knowing that I can be much better at what I’m doing by acquiring more knowledge about it. I also do a lot of riyaaz of Alankars and Taans.

I am a vocalist, and practising for hours on end can actually cause harm to my throat. I balance it out by taking lots of short breaks to give my voice a rest. I also drink a lot of hot ginger tea while I practice. It gives me relief and the ability to practice longer!

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How I prepare myself before going on stage

I love performing. The opportunity to share my passion with others is truly a blessing. At the same time, having an audience in front of me, kind of raises the bar a bit. I now have expectations to meet and that scares me a little!

I’m not going to tell you how confident I am before every performance because I get the pre-show jitters. I get super nervous, my hands get all cold and my heart beats like a drum, loud and fast. This isn’t a one-time thing; it happens before every single performance. However, with time, I’ve learnt that even though I get edgy right before I have to go up on stage, once I’m in the spotlight and I start singing, it all gets better.

I do have a small routine that I carry out before every show. I stay away from anything cold at least 3 days before a scheduled show. No cold water, no ice cream and absolutely no cold drinks. On the day of the show, I make sure to have plenty of warm water.

As a singer, my voice is my biggest asset, and I make sure to take good care of it. One good tip I should share with you, is to try a cup of warm water with some honey. It really works wonders!

Making time for Music

As a working mom, sometimes it feels like work never ends. I’m always busy with something or the other be it at my job or at home. Making time to practice my music isn’t always easy. I need more hours in a day to accomplish the tasks according to my plan!

Music is not just my passion; It’s also my profession. I have to practice for a few hours every week in order to perfect myself. Some days, I’m so tired that I skip practice. But then reality hits me, I know that to be better, practice is the key and so I squeeze some time out in my ever so busy week for music.

Multi-tasking is a talent, and it’s a real blessing if you know how to handle many things at once. I know that along with everything else in my life, my music is equally important. It’s a part of me, and I must give it the effort it requires.

I create a sort of schedule, since it gives me an agenda to follow. I’m not too strict with myself, because when something is too stringent, I tend not to follow it. Instead, I make it more flexible. Since I juggle quite a few things, I know that if I practice during the weekdays, I won’t be able to give it my all, considering how exhausted I am most days. So alternatively, I practice during the weekends.

I give myself a good 6 to 7 hours of music practice every weekend. I make sure to relax, kick back, go out with my family as well. I like my weekends to be so refreshing that I’m happy to get back to my routine, just to get to the weekend again!

It may be difficult, but don’t procrastinate, make time for practicing whatever is your passion. It’ll only benefit you.

Dealing with the Aftermath of an onstage blunder!

Now you may think that this sounds a little too dramatic, but unless you have been on stage with the spotlight on you and a hundred or so eyes watching and listening to you while you make a noticeable mistake, you can’t relate to the feeling.

It’s absolutely horrifying. The experience literally never leaves you. It’s so difficult to get back up again, your confidence level stoops low and you keep replaying that moment in your head. You end up worrying about whether you will end up making the same mistake again. You become uneasy because you’re not sure whether you will ever get over this.

Well, guess what? You definitely will. It’s just one of those things that performers should go through. It helps you get back down to earth and YES, you do learn from your mistakes. Of course you’re all shaken up for a while but that’s a part and parcel of the stage life! You can’t let one mistake ruin what you’ve worked so hard to get.

There isn’t a 5 step rule in order to get over onstage mistakes, but this is what I do. I haven’t made just one, but quite a few mistakes on stage. Immediately after the performance, I give myself 2 hours to worry and fret about it. After that I stop. I go home, drink a nice hot cup of chai and put on some of my favourite songs.

I sleep. I spend time with my son, I concentrate on my work and once it’s time to practice my music, I start with the song I messed up. When I’m on stage again singing that song, I remember not to make the same mistake again!

Try not to let it upset you too much. These things happen to everyone. Put on a brave face, practice harder and shine on!

~Somashree Ghosh Dastidar

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