‘Music gave me a reason to live and now I share that joy with others’
Kamini Mishra, a 62-year-old music teacher, earned her Masters in music when she was 53, and is today a sought after music teacher in Lucknow where she trains women and children to sing.
Divendra Singh 8 Feb 2023 12:23 PM GMT
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
On a lazy winter afternoon, when people chased the sunlight on their terraces and verandas, strains of music emerged from the home of Kamini Mishra, a 62-year-old music teacher living in Viram Khand, Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh.
Her small home of no more than two rooms is reverberating with the voices of children and women practising their vocal chords. At night, she takes a long distance online music class with a student in America.
There are many music teachers, but Kamini Mishra is a little different. It was only when she turned 51 that she enrolled herself into a music college and graduated with a masters degree in it at the age of 53.
“I was in my twelfth class when my mother passed away. Once my older brother and sister got married, the responsibility of looking after my younger siblings fell on me and I was forced to grow up at the age of 17 or 18,” Mishra recalled.
She said music was dear to her mother’s family and that is where she got her love for it. “My father disapproved of girls singing. It was not considered a ‘proper’ thing to do in my house,” she said.
But, that did not stop her from performing on stage at school. But with her mother’s demise, everything came to a halt. And, in 1985, she got married.
“The family I married into was a joint family and it had absolutely no interest or love for music. I spent all my time looking after the household."
In 2007, Kamini’s husband passed away. “I was 48 years old. My father came to my in-laws and took me back home with him,” she told Gaon Connection.
Back in her parents’ home, Kamini Misra’s tryst with music began. “I met Guru Ma (Saroj Pandey), who said I sang well. She also told me no one forgot how to sing and I should take it up again,” she added.
Kamini toyed with the idea of taking up some job, when a young friend, Shikha suggested they get admission into Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow. “She helped me prepare for the entrance exam and I got the admission! Sadly, Shikha lost her life in an accident and I felt so alone, once again,” she said.
Young at heart
“My classmates were no more than 18-20 years old and it was difficult to match their enthusiasm and energy, but I managed,” she laughed.
After she passed out from Bhatkande, Kamini auditioned for the radio and gave several performances there, besides other music platforms. But her first love was teaching music to others.
Her Guru Ma encouraged her in this. She began with a child in the neighbourhood and has not looked back since. “A lot of ladies who are in my age group and who have no responsibilities with their children married off, also learn from me. They like to learn bhajans, lokgeet [folk music] and ghazals from me,” Kamini said. At the moment she is teaching music to six young girls and seven women.
Thanks to Kamini’s efforts nearly 30 of her students have enrolled into studying for a music degree in college.
“I love how friendly Ma’am is and her way of teaching is so nice,” Manaswi, a class five student who learns from her, told Gaon Connection. There are many others like her who learn music from her every day.
“But for music I would have been nothing but a broken soul. It is because of music that I have come so far,” Kamini concluded.