Volume 2 Issue 57 | May 9, 2009 |


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Guru Griho

From Gaibandha

Swapan Sarkar's Music Sessions

Selina Sheuly

Most people sing. At least they hum to themselves. Some aren't afraid to sing out loud. There are many children, particularly in rural Bangladesh who have extraordinary singing voices. They don't know the first thing about scale or pitch. But even they have the potential to become accomplished singers in the future. There is a lot of unrealised talent in the villages. Gaibandha's Swapan Sarkar is finding these kids and giving them training in singing for free. His full name is Swapan Kumar Sarkar. A lot of his students have gone on to excel in singing. His artistes have earned money by singing at various events. That money is being spent for the good of the poor and downtrodden.

It started in 2005. It was a Sunday. It was raining that day so there was no school. One really poor boy was singing in one of the unused classrooms. He was really impressed with the kid's voice. He felt that this kid could be really big some day. But obviously he didn't have the means for formal training. There's plenty of talent like this all over the rural areas waiting to be found. It was at that moment that he started actively hunting for talent. He started going around many schools around the area.

He picked out the potentials. He started teaching them for free. There's no particular location for the classes. He is considerate of the fact that sometimes it is hard for them to travel to class. He planned that he would teach in three different locations. On holidays classes happen in the morning, on school days they take place in the evening. First he rented a room for taka 400 in his own union Laxmipur. Later he started teaching in Lengabazar Modern Kindergarten and Dariapur Governmnet Primary School. Classes are being held six days a week. Swapan took care of all the costs right out of his own pocket. He bought the harmoniums and tables. He borrows other musical instruments and uses them in his lessons too.

Out of his efforts grew the Laxmipur and Dariapur Rajanigandha Bhawaiya Academies. He took on duties of director at both. There are two separate committees to oversee the functions of the academies. Currently a total of 60 poor students learn music at these locations. They mostly sing North Bengal's Bhawaiya music. Kindergarten teacher Lal Miya and Principal Ashraful Alam said that they just had to support the musical education of underprivileged kids at the grassroots level.

Rupali Khatun is a student of class six. She is one of four brothers and sisters. Her father died of cancer last year. Her mother supports this family of five. Rupali is learning to sing. She says she doesn't have enough to eat on most days. Then there are educational expenses. But amidst all these problems she still likes learning music. She dreams of being a star some day.

Laxmipur UP Chairman Aynal Haque said for most rural kids the idea of learning music is unthinkable. Most of them get up in the morning and have to start struggling with poverty right away. For them, having access to equipment like harmoniums and tablas and learning to sing is a dream come true. Swapan deserves all the credit for making this happen.

Swapan said the lives of rural children are so burdened by poverty, usually it doesn't matter how talented they are- nobody will find them. That's why he took the initiative that he did. Right now due to the lack of their own space there are some hindrances to holding proper classes. He says if he gets financial support he will build a bigger school in the future. His wife complained that Swapan didn't have much time for his family after all this teaching stuff. But still she encouraged him in his pursuit.

Swapan Sarkar is about forty years old. His home village is Dhonkuthi. His father was a farmer, his mother was a homemaker. His is one of six children. In 1992 he joined Laxmipur High School and College as an assistant teacher. He has one son and one daughter. His wife Jayanti Rani Sarkar is a schoolteacher. His children go to school.

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