In the sixteenth century, musicians in the royal courts of India delighted their patrons with sounds of the Sitar. Hundreds of years later, a descendant of that legendary musical lineage makes his home and founded his music academy in Mississauga, Ontario Canada and Mumbai India, and its branch in Rochester (upstate New York). Irshad Khan is a member of the eighth generation of the Imdad Khani Gharana (school) of Sitar playing, propagating not only his ancestral heritage, but Indian classical music in general.
Indian Classical Music has become increasingly popular in North America over the past few decades. Yet few institutions exist to firmly entrench its presence. People wanting to learn India’s traditions have had to travel to the country of origin to pursue their interest. To fill this need, Irshad Khan has founded the Universal Academy for Musicians, an organization to provide not only a sound teaching base, but also world-class performances in Indian music and world music in general.
As a cultural ambassador, Irshad strives to preserve the Guru-shishya Parampara, the Indian oral tradition of one-on-one instruction. With the support of music lovers, Irshad hopes to implement his vision of expanding his increasing student base and enlist local and international talent to offer classes in Sitar, vocal, tabla, harmonium, guitar and music theory.
The Universal Academy for Musicians has also hosted performances by eminent artists in both instrumental and vocal music and has invited musicians from around the world to conduct teaching seminars and workshops. Since many of Irshad’s current students come from different musical backgrounds – jazz, flamenco, African and Western classical, to name a few –part of the Academy’s vision is to promote cross-cultural collaborations and exchanges between different musical cultures. Ultimately, however, the Universal Academy for Musicians’ mandate is to preserve and propagate the particular strengths of Indian music. Says Irshad, “You are never too old to learn music, but you do need the time to practice. If you didn’t get the chance to take music lessons when you were a kid, be assured that it’s never too late. Indian classical music is one of the best tools for energizing or soothing your soul and boasts of perhaps the most sophisticated systems of rhythmic structures and patterns, as well as its emphasis on improvisation.”
Today the students of Irshad Khan from many different genres of music and cultural backgrounds are already performing independently .
Separate musical sessions are taught to help suit in managing your mind, body and mood. To enhance relaxation and for increasing concentration certain specialized types of voice techniques and chants are given.
Online music lessons are also offered through Skype and Facetime.