By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | September 19, 2019

Neil Nayyar is just 13-years-old and has already performed on 107 musical instruments. The shy lad from California, US, approached us highlighting his talent. We were happy to be Opening Doorz, engaging with him over long distances for over two weeks to ensure we had it right.

Neil is the only child. His mother is a registered nurse and his Dad is in the IT sector. And what is baffling is that no one in his family is into music or none of them is in the entertainment industry. Not only that, apart from music, Neil is also a Black Belt in Martial Arts (Kung Fu) and also loves to sing and take lessons regularly. “My singing style is Pop/Rock,” he informs before adding, “I have two World records from Assist Foundation of World Records, I am also into acting. Recently, I signed a contract with Acting Agency based in Los Angeles and New York.”

Is there anything this lad does not do or does not want to get his hands into? Let’s find out from the multi-faceted Neil himself.

How and at what age did you get interested in music?

My Dad read in a book if we let a child hear classical music when in the mother’s womb, it will impact the heart and soul of the baby later on. My dad did just that; he let Mozart play his music for me! When I was around three years old, they bought me a very basic Drum Set. When I reached the age of five-and-a-half, they took me to a free Trial Drum Class. When I hit the first beat, I was playing so accurately and perfectly, that all parents and kids applauded. I was playing far better than the other kids who were already taking lessons! The drum set was my first musical instrument and I took classes for two-and-a-half years.

You say you play 107 instruments; do you have in-depth knowledge of all these instruments or do you know just the basics of these instruments?

Yes, I have learnt to play all these instruments from professional teachers and I am still learning—learning never ends. There are always new things to learn in music. My teachers say I am at the Intermediate to Advanced Level.

How many instruments do you perform on a show?

I usually perform on a variety of Instruments. Sometimes, I take 12 instruments if I have enough time to demonstrate. People love to hear music from different instruments. The interesting part is that I not only play a variety of instruments, I have also learnt music from different countries/cultures as well. For example, I play Chinese Music on Chinese instruments and Non-Chinese Instruments. I play Indian music on Indian Instruments and Non-Indian Instruments.

Which is your favourite instrument you have learnt professionally through a music teacher?

So far, I have had 78 teachers from around the world. Currently, I am taking lessons with 25 teachers. I have learnt or am learning all my instruments professionally.

Which is that instrument you spent maximum time practising?

Some instruments need more attention and practice. For example, the Trumpet needs to be played almost every day or every other day. Otherwise, mouth embouchure changes and it becomes hard to get the perfect tone when I need to play or perform. Similarly, a few stringed instruments like the Sitar, Tabla and Chinese Guzheng all require regular practice.

Considering you have to handle 107 instruments, I guess you will be busy most of the day. How do you manage your studies?

That is a good question. I am doing my schooling Online since Grade I. This gives me the flexibility to adjust time with studies and music. Usually, I study in the evening.

Have you performed in any concerts? Which place?

I perform a lot. This year, I performed at California County Fair, California State Fair,  India Day (organized by the Indian Association of Sacramento), Diversity and Inclusion organized by the City of Elk Grove, Multicultural Festival Elk Grove, Sactown Showdown in Sacramento, Bollywood Gharana performed in Natomas (they came from Mumbai on tour to the US), Hot Summer Nights concert series Elk Grove. I also performed at the Ganesh Utsav 2019, in Newark, California. That event attracted 10,000 people from around the Bay area.

Neil Nayyar: Fiddler on the roof
I see myself in Hollywood and Bollywood as a composer, musician, director and actor,” says Neil Nayyar.

How many hours a day do you spend time practising?

On average, I end up spending around 8-9 hours practising the various instruments.

Do you see a future in the music industry? Are you planning a full-time career in music?

Yes, I can see my future in music. I see myself in Hollywood and Bollywood as a composer, musician, director and actor.

Who are your favourite Indian musicians?

My Favourite ones are Mr A R Rehman, Mr Prasanna from New York (he is also a Guitarist with A.R. Rehman), Mr Zakir Hussain, and Legend of Sitar Mr Ravi Shankar.

Who are your favourite international artists?

Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Bruno Mars, Chris Martin, Billy Joel.

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