Shehnai Guy Is Primarily Meant to Inspire the Next Generation - Ankit Patel ( Shehnai Guy )

I also love classical music but it was something that was truly entertaining and also at a high level. He’s composing a lot of complex melodies and nice chords. That’s why I've always loved A.R. Rahman, and I still do. 

1. Tell us more about your background and journey 

I was born in England where I used to live until I was about 12 years old. This is when I moved to the United States, to Atlanta in Georgia. 

I have always been interested in playing music and I started off as a keyboard player. 

Later on, I decided to pick up Shehnai, as I have a Guruji in Mumbai, and I have been learning to play Shehnai for the past 7 years. But since 2015 I’ve been really focusing a lot on this and I’ve been also performing for the past 2 years. 

2. When did you first decide you wanted to pursue music and how did you start? 

When I was a child, around 7 or 8 years old, my parents bought me a small keyboard. I picked it up quickly and I was learning to play simple songs like “Happy Birthday” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. 

I realized that I enjoyed it so much, and I just kept playing the keyboard at that time. I never took any formal lessons. I only took some guidance from those friends and relatives who knew how to play it at least at a decent level. 

And it wasn’t until I was in America when I had the opportunity to play at our local Hindu gatherings. But it was when I was about 12 years old when and how I first started because I had an outlet to play and perform. 

Later, I was getting better and better, and I was getting more involved. I was becoming more interested and I wanted to learn more. That's when I fully started to devote myself to music, primarily keyboard. About 10 or 15 years later, I finally began to play music professionally. 

3. Who is your favorite artist and why? 

I grew up listening to music in the 90s, so my favorite artist is A.R. Rahman. He was composing and coming up with new songs that were so unique yet so catchy, and didn't really have that boring classical side or negative connotation so to speak. 

Don't get me wrong, I also love classical music but it was something that was truly entertaining and also at a high level. He’s composing a lot of complex melodies and nice chords. That’s why I've always loved A.R. Rahman, and I still do. 

4. Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a singer? 

Obviously, I'm not a singer but a musician, and I primarily play Shehnai now. There's actually a lot of opportunities here in the United States. I believe I'm one of the few, if not the only Shehnai player in America, and as you know, the Shehnai is used a lot in Indian weddings. 

I have a band called Jashn where we do Indian weddings and parties. People always appreciate and want a live Shehnai player for a wedding. So, I am actually lucky to get to travel all of the United States for weddings to perform and play the Shehnai, and it's been amazing. 

5. Is formal training required or can one train themselves purely on the basis of talent? 

When it comes to Shehnai, I believe that formal training is required. In my opinion, as with any other classical instrument, you need a teacher, a Guruji. But when you have instruments like the keyboard, guitar, or drums, I think it's possible to get away without formal training. 

It just takes a lot of practice, dedication, and an open mind. You’re constantly learning, observing, watching a lot of YouTube videos, and asking a lot of questions. 

6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists? 

This is a good question. My channel, Shehnai Guy, is primarily meant to inspire the next generation in pursuing their hobbies, their talents, and their passion as well as educating the world that this instrument still exists. It's not a boring but creative and fun instrument, it's got a lot of emotion, and is extremely versatile. 

I would say that for anyone who wants to get into music, whether it be a hobby or as a career, never ever lose the passion. It always has to be about passion. You should want to practice, you should want to play, to record, and to perform. 

If a beginner musician comes to your house and he wants to jam out for a while, you should want to do that because you love music. And that would be my advice to all aspiring artists - just love what you do and your passion will show. 

7. Which is your favorite book and why? 

My favorite book is the Harry Potter series. I still love it to this day and I watch a lot of YouTube videos on Harry Potter theories. I'm just so immersed in that universe. It started when I was in high school. 

When JK Rowling came out with a book it was another year or more until the next book, so you had a whole year to discuss what's gonna happen with your friends. And every year the anticipation grew and grew, so it became a part of you and got absorbed into you. 

I'm really big into fantasy. Also, the Lord of the Rings is one of my other favorites. I'm a big fan of the movies primarily, not necessarily the books. 

I think that with Harry Potter, you become so immersed in that fantasy, you just go deep into it mentally. And it's nice to have that. It’s like going to Disney World where you enter that fantasy world for a short period of time. So that's why I really enjoy Harry Potter. 

Instagram ID - @shehnaiguy

Ankit Patel ( Shehnai Guy )


Interviewed By - Sandeep Virothu