She is born to Late Mridangam Vidwan Sri V M Ganesan and Senior most Veena Vidhushi, Smt Kalyani Ganesan (‘A’ Top graded artist of AIR, Chennai). The legacy she carries doesn’t stop here. Her grandfather is Mridanga Vidwan Karaikudi Sri Muthu Iyer. With all this background and more Dr. Shubha Ganesan is a trained Carnatic musician(singer), a music guru, a disciplinarian mom, a loving wife and a great daughter. She has been recently honored with the Kalaimamani Award by TamilNadu Govt this year,. Juggling between so many roles must be a task. We spoke to Dr. Shubha about her career journey and the musical sojourn, her challenges as multitasking, and above all we asked her advice for new mothers who feel lost when they can’t pursue their passion in the budding motherly years.
Here it is straight from the heart. We thank her for her time for answering us. Thanks Shubha! Your journey is very motivating and inspiring.
1)Shubha ,please let us about yourself and what do you do? About your career, kids, family life and “the school life”! What is your educational background? Your career journey!
I am a professional Carnatic musician , performing on the stage for the past 30 years. I also run a music institution by name Hamsanadam which functions at Mandaveli with more than 100 students. I am the founder director of the Music school and we also conduct classes via skype for passionate music learners across the globe. I have done my MA and Mphil in India Music from Madras university. Happy to share that my institution is entering its 25th year in music teaching. I have a son who is studying BE Computer science in B.I.T.S Pilani and my husband MR Ganesan works for a multinational insurance company.
The Doctoral Journey:
I did my MA and M.Phil when I was 23.In the year 1994, I couldn’t pursue my Ph.D. because my Guide was strict about attendance. As I was traveling frequently for outstation concerts I couldn’t continue my research. I felt disappointed. But as they say, Seek and your prayers shall be answered”! Around 2006 or 07, Queen Marry college called for women candidates to register for Ph.D. course under Music department.The best part about this course was that they have made changes to the strict attendance policy.We were exempted from strict attendance. I found it convenient as I was travelling for performances and had to take care of my own institution. In this way I started my research work in the year 2007 and completed it in 2010. This is a milestone in my career and life.
2)It is known that you have a legacy of musical scholars in your family! What were your dreams in childhood? Are they realized now? At what age did things change for you? As you are from the family of great music scholars, was the journey easy?
The musical family background & me:
I didn’t have any dreams at my young age, of course the atmosphere at home was conducive for my musical learning and created a passion and taste for Carnatic music. The family background of course helped me to learn the art with seriousness , my parents never allowed me to take the art for granted and they constantly strived to instil the importance and value of music learning . Being from a music lineage is a blessing and boon but that itself will not guarantee the success for a person. Of course it is an advantage, but the art of music is a challenging art and anyone taking it either as a profession or passion should involve completely in the divine art which is a veritable ocean . Practise should be akin to upasana or thapas .
3) What is your passion and what is your goal/vision further? What is that you are still working at this age? Are you satisfied with your journey? How did you balance your work life? What were the challenges?
Vision and goal : praying the Almighty to give me the same enthusiasm and zeal to continue my good work of teaching the students till the end of my life. The next generation should be benefitted by my teaching and I also feel this is a very good fruitful way to preserve our art culture and Bhakti(devotion).
4) And what made you move your cheese? How did you overcome the obstacles,if there were any! I am sure, there would have been many! What is the key to your success? What is that which keeps you at it, doing your bit consistently!
When I meet with challenges:
Any person will have ups and downs in their lives, when it comes to professional life they have great challenges of balancing their public and private lives. I owe my success to my parents and husband who have immensely supported and contributed in my musical journey. I look up to many lady artists in different kinds of profession , many have inspired me and continue to motivate me in so many respects.When I feel slightly down will think of these role models and ask myself , “These people have achieved so much amidst several hardships , why can’t you ?” This sentence always reverberates in my mind and gives me huge strength and enthusiasm to move on.
5) What would you advise new mothers who find it very difficult to give up on their dreams immediately after the birth of a child? What is that parenting advice and the career advice you would give to the budding mothers?
Advice to new mothers and old:
For any lady , pursuing the dreams and career immediately after childbirth is a colossal task, as motherhood overpowers the personal interests .My advice is “Don’t give up and feel down , allot time for your passion and keep doing it.Consistency is the key factor to success, initially you might not be able to devote more time for your profession as much u were doing before childbirth but still balance your activities in such a way that your profession or passion doesn’t take a back seat or its not completely lost.
6) Music connects one to the divine. What are your experiences with this regard? I am sure you would have many but just one to narrate! How do you hold an equation with money and your divine call? How are finances when it comes to be a self-employed person?
Music as a worship to God:
Music is a form of worship , it gives you a balanced state of mind and mental peace. All scriptures say,” Music as a divine art to reach Moksha”. It is indeed a real path to moksha. We can visualise God through the compositions of great composers and their self surrender to God is supreme . Every time when the songs are rendered or listened to from great musicians of past generations the poignant feeling which strikes your mind cannot be expressed through words.
Music & Finances:
Full fledged dedication and devotion is very important for any success. Music,especially Carnatic music will not guarantee financial security. One has to strive, work hard and at one point of time eventually our passion and hobby will definitely become our profession and fetch reasonable income for us. But it will take some years for which the person has to wait patiently with confidence .
7.How is it to be self-employed? How were the initial days of starting the Music school program? What advantage did you have over the working mothers(others) and the disadvantage of being self-employed?
Advantage over the working mothers is that we can take care of the household as well as our own profession .I had the pleasure of opening the door when my son came back from his school. I never had to depend on anyone to take care of my home or son. Self-employed are free from the tension of going to the workplace on time or reaching home at late hours. Working women face many hurdles when they step out of their home, being self-employed is advantageous in many ways.
Disadvantage part is that your income will not be consistent.You have to be prepared for this. People around you will take you for granted. For example if a working woman says she can’t take leave from office on a particular day it will be considered important by the family. But when a self-employed says that “My work is important and I have to do it on time”,it will be taken as granted by the people. Since they don’t have strict office hours and their workplace is their own home , most of the time juggling between household chores and professional commitments at the same time, will be big multitasking job.
8.Now that your nest is empty, how do you spend your time? Do you feel alone without your only son?
I always spend time with my music practice, teaching students online and training local students. I don’t feel alone as my music is always with me.In this age of technological advancement, we have the advantage of WhatsApp video calling.My son speaks with me over the phone and through whatsapp video 2 to 3 times a day, so I do not get the feeling of missing him that much.
9) Your favourite pass-time/hobby apart from music?
Cooking various dishes and watching channels(comedy).
10)Your favorite food?
Pakka South Indian dishes.
9) Your favourite movie?
Old tamil movie “Tillana Mohanambal” . I don’t know how many times I would have watched this film.
10) Your favorite Indian cricket player?
I am not a sports person!
I hope the take away is huge. Get inspired young ladies and get moving!
Dr. Shubha can be reached at www.shubhaganesanonline.com