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Piano stars

Friday, October 26, 2018

Shivani and Vivek Patel believe in nurturing young talent

Imagine being all of five or six and getting to play on a Steinway concert grand! That was roughly the age that Shivani (28) and Vivek Patel (26) founders of '88 - The Piano Academy' began to formally learn the piano. No, they didn't play on a Steinway when they started but the sister-brother duo gave  this unique experience  to their students, mostly little ones, kids and a few adults at their annual recital at Bhavan's College Hall  last week. About 70 performed in the presence of family and friends. What did they play on the Steinway, carted to Chowpatty with tender loving care by Furtados, the  exclusive Steinway  dealer in India for the last 20 years? They played children's ditties. Jazz. Pop. Classical. The Bhavan's program was titled Dolce. Presto is the name of next Sunday's recital at the at the G5A Mahalakshmi when another batch of 70 will play from 2pm onwards.

Anthony Gomes, Director of the family-owned Furtados group of companies, is also the Regional Coordinator for Western India for Trinity College London, the international music, drama and language examinations board.

Trinity's presence in India dates back over 125 years. Every year over 100,000 candidates appear for Trinity exams from over 100 centres spread across India. Shivani and Vivek completed their Trinity College course by age  13. They were first taught by their mother Harsha; though most of their learning (and subsequent) performing the piano was in Dubai which provided them the unique experience of  learning from some of the best teacher/s, notably Dr Norma Tajanlangit. (Closer home, they have studied with  Hyderabad’s Timothy Marthand.)  There is also the fantastic  support they get from their “non-playing, music loving” dad, Chetan, who has taken them on tours to Europe "with a view to experience the concerts, learn about the composers across various periods, different styles of music and its relevance to art and architecture. “We then felt obliged to share this privilege and wealth of musical knowledge to others and this led to establishing '88 - The Piano Academy' in 2012," says Shivani. She adds: “We take a fun approach to learning. We know the importance of introducing an instrument during formative childhood years and believe in starting early.The multiple benefits of piano playing such as building cognitive skills,concentration and mental health seamlessly integrates with the musical pedagogy and learing we provide for children as well as adults.”

Currently, the academy hosts over 120 students across all ages (starting from as little as three years), genders and nationalities. Harsha, Shivani and Vivek teach the piano at their Napean Sea Road home or their pupils’ homes. Since 2012, they have been hosting a program called 'Joie De Vivre' every year where all the students perform. Shivani says last year's edition of Joie De Vivre 2017 saw an audience of close to 500 people. The chief guest Luke Kenny (of Rock On fame) was impressed with the talent of all the performers. Sixteen of their students have cleared their Trinity Theory Examinations in May 2018 and some even scored a distinction. 

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