KARACHI: In the past several years, the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) has provided its students with the opportunity to travel and study music internationally through several exchange programmes and international collaborations.
On Wednesday, the students who had travelled to either the University of Texas in Austin, (UT Austin) or the National Theatre of Korea (NToK) Seoul, came together to share their experiences of what they had learnt so far.
This was an attempt by the management of Napa to generate interest within its present student body and provide them with the necessary information to pursue their passions, both locally and internationally. Representatives of the US consulate and the US state department were also present and distributed certificates to the students.
Ustad Nafees Ahmed spoke about the importance of understanding how music and other forms of art were taught internationally. “We want students who were part of this exchange programme to shed light on the differences between Napa teaching methods and methods used at UT Austin and NToK.”
Arsalan Pervaiz spoke about the system in place at UT Austin of learning and teaching music. Having completed his diploma from Napa in 2012, he stayed on at the academy as a junior faculty member teaching guitar. “What I really love about Napa is that you don’t only learn about one genre of music but are exposed to varied ones — from Indian classical music to jazz.”
When asked to write a report about his experiences at UT Austin and all that he had learnt, Mr Pervaiz decided to adopt a unique approach. He decided to write a song which he named Karachi to Austin in which he incorporated his eastern and western teaching.
“The song talks about a musical journey, my exposure to different cultures and the transition that happened as a result of learning different genres of music.” He then went on to share with the audience his various attempts at writing music, a skill he learnt during his time at UT Austin.
Another development that Pervaiz shared was how, in collaboration with his professor John Turci-Escobar, he designed a curriculum for a short music course for junior high school students titled “The Aesthetics of Music”.
Abeer Shan, learning tabla and percussions at Napa, went to NToK in Seoul to further hone her skills. She shared different images and videos from her journey, where she met musicians from countries such as Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Ghana, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others.
“The first thing all of us faced was the language barrier. So we downloaded language translator apps on our phones so that we could communicate with each other. However, within a week we were able to communicate with each other through music.”
During her visit, Ms Abeer decided to learn how to play a traditional Korean instrument called the changoo, which she brought back to Pakistan and towards the end of her presentation, played for the audience.
Other students who were part of the exchange programme include Ahsan Shabbir, Nadir Abbas, Stephen Chamman, Yousuf Nisar, Jamal Yousuf, Nigel Bobby, Kashan Khan, Waqas Gulab, Intezar Hussain, Hafi Mustafa and Kashif Hussain.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2016