Published: 03rd June 2019
Forced into playing the violin at 8, this Chennai-based MMA Symphony Orchestra musician is now teaching music himself
Keerthan Sergius Robert thinks it is as important to learn contemporary songs as it is to have your classical base right
Being a music lover that I am and having met and done a ton of stories on musicians — I was super excited to finally be able to talk to a violinist. Not just any violinist but a violinist who is passionate about imparting the knowledge that he gained from when he was eight, to children. He goes by the name Keerthan Sergius Robert. Sounds familiar? If you take pride in being a classical music lover and are an ardent audience to the Madras Musical Association Symphony Orchestra then let me tell you that Keerthan was and is a part of the MMA and is part of three to four concerts every year.
I discovered my love for teaching when I took up a part time job as violin teacher with the Velammal Knowledge Park
Keerthan Sergius Robert, Music Teacher/Violinist
But music was not only constrained to stages and performances for Keerthan. "In the year 2016, I discovered that I had a love for teaching when I took up a part-time job as a violin teacher with the Velammal Knowledge Park (while simultaneously pursuing a post-graduate degree in Human Resource Management from Madras Christian College). I don't stick to teaching sheet music I try to mix things up a little bit. I begin my classes with a new song that my students can learn. It is important to learn from contemporary music just as much as you learn from classical music. It’s been an immensely rewarding journey, teaching and watching my students grow exponentially," he says smiling.
While most of us would voluntarily roll ourselves into learning an instrument and would pester our parents about it — Keerthan says he was forced into learning an instrument. Does he regret it? "My roots in music go way back to when I was eight. I joined a church choir. My father forced me to learn an instrument. I casually chose to learn the violin because I was so sure that there wasn't going to be a teacher. But to my luck, my teacher just moved into town that year. Looking back now I am so glad that I was forced into it. I now hold a Grade 8 certificate in violin from Trinity College London."
Pure classic: Keerthan joined the Madras Musical Association Symphony Orchestra in the year 2014
Music in India never seems like a viable career option. For one — not a lot of people support western music in this country and there aren't many opportunities. Keerthan knew what he wanted, he knew for a fact where his heart was. He confidently decided to stand out and pick a very unconventional career, "From a batch of 150 students in school, I was the only one who did not take up the traditional engineering or medical sciences even though I scored a good 91 per cent in my HSC board exams? I later graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Loyola college. In college, I was part of several western music and light music bands. That’s where I discovered my passion for music and how I wanted to make a career out of it," says Keerthan who's name means songs of worship — coincidence much.
Fab eight: Keerthan can play a range of instruments from the Violin, Viola, Cello, Guitar, Bass guitar, Keyboard, to the Harmonica and recorder
Unless you are a passionate musician sitting through classes for years learning music is a real test of patience. Keerthan, being someone who was initially forced into learning music, endured through the training and came out a passionate violinist. "I got through eight grades of western classical by Trinity College of Music. Classical music, as we all know speaks, volumes about discipline. I joined the Madras Musical Association Symphony Orchestra in 2014. The experience with MMA was phenomenal for me. I was taught creativity and discipline. The whole experience of being part of an orchestra is like a dream come true for every classical musician."