They say strength lies in numbers and this couldn’t be more true for Shri. Aman Bathla also known as “The World’s Fastest” Piano Player. With over 43 record titles, having played 1208 notes in a minute, 33 notes in 1 second, Bharat Gaurav, Haryana Ratna, Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award and numerous other awards, records and citations that look more like an ever increasing catalog he is running out of space at his house to keep them (and its true), Localturnon is proud to feature this amazing musician aka “Piano King” as its Artist of the Week.
Below are the extracts of the rendezvous with a thorough “music-hearted” gentleman. Read on!
#localturnon: What is the history to your taking up Music – how did it come into being, your journey?
Aman Bathla : I did not come from any gharana or family where there was a tradition for music and its learning. What you see today as Aman Bathla had a regular upbringing in a business family and was expected to take over the reins upon coming of age. I did do that for a while but I suppose you could say that my true calling lay in Music. Flute and Drums were the first of many instruments that I got acquainted during my school days. I guess I was always musically inclined and it came naturally to me. I loved playing music because I enjoyed composing my own tunes and was in awe of the power it had to change a person’s mood. He confesses “One of the many reasons I started playing the drums was to give vent to aggressive energy that one feels during their teenage years. It not only calmed me down but also gave me a sense of control.” This was when I realized that music will always be a part of my life.
And today I am fortunate that I can decently play many instruments like the flute, guitar, synthesizer, Congo, drums etc but my passion and heart has always been the piano.
Yes, the journey has been through some trying times for me and from leaving up the lucrative family business to pursuing my degree in music from Trinity College of Music, being initially under the mentorship of Shri. Naval Singh (piano), to giving tuition in Greater Noida, to now looking forward to contributing to the society through my music, I feel I am indeed blessed to have been a musician. (smiling)
#Localturnon: So who are your favourites/icons/role models in the field of music?
Aman Bathla: Music knows no boundaries for its like Air and Water. One comes across various Artists and their creations and its a delight to be in their midst. If I were to pick one single artist, who has had a tremendous influence on my life and music style, I would say it will be Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma Ji (Santoor)
#Localturnon: How do you rejuvenate your creative insights / get the adrenalin going?
Aman Bathla: Music for me is meditation. If I were to explain its like there is a trance or a hold over you when you are playing. And what better way to rejuvenate than to play music.So I me and my piano is what is my connect and outlet. Its my way to feel rejuvenated. It helps me connect with my inner self and also lets me shed my burdens my concerns. Also I feel that when I am playing I experience a unique bliss that I dont find in any other source. Yes, being closer to nature is what I would say comes close. Rivers, river camps, natural surroundings in the open are the best and I thrive in these. There is so much natural energy and positivity that you have to be there to experience it.
#Localturnon: Does your Music carry a message / a theme or a story ..if so can you share more on it.
Aman Bathla : As I have said Music to me is like Air and Water. You need your regular dose to survive. I feel music helps in many ways. It helps change moods, it brings positivity and spreads cheer. In ways it heals. And that’s my preamble for everything related to music. It should make the listener go back with a sense of relaxation ..hmm.. a sense of happiness. Our ragas and the westerns notes are the same if you look closely. So even if its a piano and you playing a so called western instrument the constituents of the tunes will remain same. And thus the effect it leaves on the listeners will be the same. Music that heals is my story. Infact, just to share, we are planning to conduct regular music healing camps set in natural settings that takes the mind off mundane things and helps connect the individual with their inner self.
#Localturnon:Of all the performances you’ve given, which is your favourite one and why?
Aman Bathla: It is difficult to choose one. I feel every performance has its own salient features. The location, the audience and of course the occasion. To be honest, I have an affinity for performing in non-stage kind, natural settings or connecting with newer audiences who are not expecting to hear anything magical. Some of these have been in Mall Atrium like Ambience Mall in Gurgaon. It is fantastic to see how people will stop and stand to watch when the piano keys start their magic. And if you have been to the Ambience Mall its a huge mall with multiple levels and seeing people on different levels peep down it kind of gives a stadium feel. We were thrilled to receive the comments from our first time patrons. Also what made that event special was the enthusiastic response we got from children. The sparkle in their eyes when they watched us was a reward in itself.
#Localturnon:Do you have any interesting fan stories to tell?
Aman Bathla: (smiling) There are many stories but a few of them stand out for the simple reason that they really touched the listeners and when they tell you about their experience it gives us artists a sense of satisfaction. On top of the mind is this experience that one of our lady listeners got when she attended our session. She told us that she had recently been bereaved of her dear one and when she listened to the piano tunes she was spiritually able to connect with her dear one through the music and it helped calm her during her period of mourning. It was such a surreal experience for me as a musician that my music could help someone connect with their dear one. But it also somehow reinforces this belief that music heals.
#Localturnon:Can you share about some funny incident that happened on-stage / during performance / with you or the other artists / stage members?
Aman Bathla: I won’t say it was a funny incident but then these things are usually not supposed to happen in concerts. (smiling). In one of the recent ones, that I was to give in NCR region, I was on stage when the power back up malfunctioned. You can imagine the moment when you in the midst of a performance and the lights, the mike everything goes off. The crowd is looking at you and the organizers running around. I think the best I could come up with during that brief intermission was narrative around music that held the audience attention. Call it a spontaneous reaction or just experience of having done this with students during my tuition, whatever, but it worked. The audience was never made to feel the disappointment of something having gone awry. In fact some folks even came up to me after the performance to congratulate on the side narrative with my performance. I think it is every Artist’s responsibility to ensure that the performance be continued uninterrupted. As it is said “the show must go on” and it did (smiling).
#Localturnon:How has the musical journey been so far for you and what are you looking forward?
Aman Bathla : (Smiling) Some people tell me that I have come a long way and to them I revert “We have only begun”. A lifetime is not enough to touch all the basics of music, that is out there to learn, let alone master it. Whatever little I have been able to achieve I feel I am blessed and lucky. World records, concerts and performances aside, I feel I need to do more to give back to society through music. The journey can only be called fulfilling if it helps the undertaker meet his objective and for me that objective being music can deliver so much to the society. Healing through music is very close to my heart and I want to contribute in whatever little way I can. We are working on that for the immediate future and are seeking partners to collaborate with. My being associated with UN and select International Musician Chain (I being from India) with this objective is thus relevant. Yes, there is also collaboration with International Artists on agenda as exchange of thoughts and ideas often leads to discovery of something new.
#Localturnon:Do you have any words of advice for youngsters who are thinking of getting into this line ?
Aman Bathla: If I were to look back at my starting days and my journey so far and then be able to extract an iota of learning that could be worth sharing with upcoming musicians it would be that one needs to be true to yourself. If you feel you and music are made for each other then you must do justice to this feeling. There will be challenges but one has to stand up and make your self count. Also there needs to be a purpose to your music. Yes, having some robust support system in place works. In my case I was lucky to have my wife Shilpi Bathla accompany me and support my decisions. As I say “Best diet for my soul is my Music” and if its the same for you , you will know what to do.
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