Sur Sanskaar Academy of Music: Opening Doorz to Hemangi Paknikar, a seasoned Indian Classical Vocalist, Musician, and Music Composer.
By Mansi Kashikar | Opening Doorz Editorial | August 11, 2022
Hemangi Paknikar is a seasoned musician/performer, an Indian Classical Vocalist, and Music Composer. She is also a highly qualified professional with an MA in Music (Gold Medal from SNDT University) and a reputed Music Guru to more than 800 Students. A multi-genre singer who has been a student of Indian Classical Music for nearly 35 years, Paknikar is the winner of several awards, the most recent one being the ‘Asian Education Award 2022’ for ‘Excellence in Classical Music Education’.
She is also the Founder of Sur Sanskaar Academy of Music, which has created an interest in Indian Classical Music among many children in the western suburbs of Mumbai. Every year, she gives a platform to her students to perform to an audience. This year, on completion of 12 years of ‘Sur Sanskaar’, her Classical Music Academy, she has planned Megh Shaam—An Evening With The Rain. This event will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2022, at Kalaghar Auditorium, Nandadeep Vidyalaya, Goregaon East.
Opening Doorz met up with the Guru whose Shishya swear by their learning at Sur Sanskaar Academy of Music.
What inspired you to start Sur Sanskaar?
Since childhood, I have grown up with music. My mother, Ashalata Gandhe, used to teach Indian Classical Music to children in Amalner, my hometown, in the North of Maharashtra. Along with the children who used to come home to learn, I also learned from my mother. She is my first ‘Guru’. With her guidance, I completed Sangeet Visharad. Later, I did my Masters in Music (MA) from SNDT University. My interest in Indian Classical Music along with inspirational stories of great masters like Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar got me thinking about what I can do to spread awareness amongst the current generation.
After I settled in Mumbai, I started teaching children at home to see the response. Seeing the response and my passion to teach, my husband, the Academy Co-Founder, suggested that we set up a formal academic institution that would work towards popularising Classical Music amongst children and youth.
How has been the journey so far?
This was an initiative of Seven Twenty Ten Network, our parent Media Company. Today, after 12 successful years, Sur Sanskaar is an independent entity and it gives me great satisfaction that we have managed to create an interest in Indian Classical Music amongst many children in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
What kind of challenges did you face while setting up?
When we set up the Academy, we were faced with the challenge of creating awareness about our vision and the courses offered. Being first-generation business owners, the challenge was to use our limited funds to optimum use. We advertised in the local publications but the response was poor. I had to motivate myself to believe that the first few students would be able to help spread awareness about my teaching. And so we got the first student, then a few more from the local areas joined. Sure enough, the word of mouth spread and that has been the foundation of our growth story. That my first few students liked my teaching gave me a deep sense of satisfaction and by the Grace of God, we have now had over 800 students who have learned with us.
How is Sur Sankaar different from other Academies?
Our courses have been designed to inculcate a sense of appreciating different facets of Indian Classical Music. The diverse curriculum takes into account an application-oriented approach while catering to children from ages 7 upwards. We also have courses for working professionals, housewives, and senior citizens. Our youngest student began at age 5 and our oldest student is 78 years old. Apart from Classical Music, we cover the different genres of Indian Music. Our students have a wider pool to choose from
“That my first few students liked my teaching gave me a deep sense of satisfaction and by the Grace of God, we have now had over 800 students who have learned with us.”
We also have our own Course Books, written, designed, and published for our students only. We have an affiliation with ABGMVM (Akhil Bharatiya Gandhava Mahavidyalaya Mandal) that enables our students to get additional marks in Std X along with Certified Courses as per their recognized curriculum. However, the most important part is probably our Teacher-Student ratio of 1:4 which ensures personal attention is given to each student, according to the potential of every student.
The teaching culture in Sur Sanskaar is primarily aimed to create a love for music, so learning is fun. As the Founder, I am proud that we focus more on sharing knowledge through our traditional ‘Guru-Shishya’ parampara over commercializing education.
Who do you credit for your successful journey?
Firstly, all my Gurus are the reason I am where I am today. My mother introduced me to the wonderful world of ‘Sur’. I learned Gwalior Gayaki from her. After that, I have been blessed by Pt. Babanrao Haldankar, Pt. Sharad Sathaye and Dr. Shaila Datar. Today, my Classical Music Education continues with Smt. Ashatai Khadilkar. She has been a Guru who has given me so much that words cannot describe. I have been lucky to have learned from Gurus like Ashok Patki Sir, Yashwant Deo Sir, and Smt. Shubhada Dadarkar. This has added to my knowledge of different genres of music.
I would not have made it without the total support of my family, my Co-Founder & husband Sheetal Paknikar, team Sur Sanskaar and team Seven Twenty Ten Network who have enabled us to be a trusted brand with fantastic audio-video initiatives.
What are your projections for the next 12 Years?
Sur Sanskaar will continue to work toward spreading Indian Classical Music and Culture. I aim to scale up this successful academic model to other Indian cities and internationally as well. My dream is to work with interested schools to partner with us and incorporate innovative ways to teach music to very young children so that they can benefit from our Indian Sanskaars, maybe making them better human beings. I also wish that my students who are now Sangeet Visharad will work enthusiastically with us to spread awareness of our music and culture to the upcoming generations.
My ultimate outlook is to encourage all to share knowledge and create a better society.