City kids using music to champion causes

Rishi Shet

Gone are the days when music was just considered as an immaterial pastime or a way to keep the kids out of your hair during the vacations. Children are combining their musical inclinations with noble causes to make people sit up and take notice. 

Rishi Shet, a 14-year-old Bengaluru-born and US-based violinist, is working to raise funds for a city NGO, Snehagram, working for orphaned and vulnerable children infected with HIV. 

“My mother is a pediatrician specialising in infectious diseases and she used to volunteer at Snehagram when she was a professor at St John’s Hospital. Along with her, I made many visits to Snehagram when I was here. I couldn’t even begin to understand what those children were going through,” says Rishi.

Years later, Rishi came up with the idea of a benefit concert to increase awareness about the plight of Snehagram inmates and raise funds for them.

He was supported and encouraged by teachers and family members. The youngster, who has an impressive musical lineage, is hoping to raise around Rs 5 lakhs.

Tenth-grade Vidyaniketan student Sangeetha Ramanuj has utilised her creative abilities to turn a school project into a social initiative. She has roped in children at her music school to create instruments out of plastic bottles.

“We painted plastic bottles and filled them with pebbles to turn them into shakers which give a basic sense of rhythm. I wanted to give them to government school kids so that they can get an exposure to music,” says the young musician who learns Carnatic violin and the piano.

She has also written songs about varied themes, from the solar system to poverty in the country. 

“I composed the song ‘Fly by’ by myself, a sad and melancholic number which talked about poverty and its effects. More recently, my friend and I wrote a poem about the solar system. We added tunes and recorded it in the studio after that. I figured it will help little children take an interest in their lessons,” she says.

Six-year-old Megan has got into the spirit of helping early on. While she is a regular at an annual concert organised by an NGO run by the Japanese community which helps underprivileged children, she highlights pressing issues on social media too.

In Facebook lives and videos posted by her parents, Megan talks about concerns like burning of garbage near her home and how her young classmates are not wearing helmets. These are accompanied by a melodious song.

She also donated her 12-inch-long hair for the cause of ‘Hair for Hope’. “We made it clear to her that she was growing her hair so she could eventually donate it. Small acts likes these teach children selflessness and the joy of doing things for others; a rare thought in a world completely focussed on itself,” says her father Rakesh.

She sometimes sings for gigs at which her father’s band ‘Out Of Office’ performs (“only lunchtime or early afternoon gigs though,” says Rakesh) and ‘Heal The World’ is one of her favourite numbers for such an act.

String Theory Concert 

Rishi Shet will be giving a recital alongside other students of The Bangalore School of Music on June 30, 6.30 pm onwards at Aruna Sunderlal Auditorium, The Bangalore School of Music.

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City kids using music to champion causes

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